24 February 2011 - by ~ 0 Comments

Medication Saga

So, I’ve been sparring with this tracheal infection since the end of last July. It is one of those nagging things that just would not go away! Two different physicians – my internist and ENT specialist – took turns at knocking out this staph, a bug common to those of us with tracheostomy tubes in our necks. They kept hitting it with courses of various oral antibiotics, but to no avail. The infection would only get doused for a few weeks before coming back. Well, I finally had enough and put in a call to my infectious disease specialist, Dr. Licitra. I knew that he would most likely be able to fix me. He decided that the oral medications needed to be replaced by something stronger. It was time to put away the derringers and bring on the cannons! However, Licitra preferred not to follow the intravenous route because my veins are collapsed and I am an extremely tough stick. Whenever I go for a blood test, the lab technician pretty much plunges the needle into my arm somewhere and prays that red fluid shoots out. It’s the proverbial stab in the dark. Heck, a vampire would have trouble extracting blood from me! And starting an IV is even more difficult! I once endured thirteen consecutive failed sticks and several blown veins before a port could finally be established. Talk about your human pincushion!

Anyhow, Licitra opted for an aerosol antibiotic that would be administered right through my ventilator tubing, down my trach tube and directly to the infected area. This made total sense! This was the answer! This medication was just the cannon I’d need! But there was one major snag: the medication he ordered loomed on national backorder. Not a single pharmacy had the stuff. And I needed treatment immediately! So, Licitra prescribed an alternative cannon. Another snag: the damned drug cost three thousand dollars for a 21-day supply, and was not covered under my Medicare prescription drug plan. About $143.00 per single dose – you must be joking! I swear my pacemaker went into overdrive! You should be able to cure a small village for three thousand bucks! Yeah, like I am going to blow all that cash – which I don’t have – on something that offers zero guarantees? Ain’t happening! Sure, if I went into the hospital for this exact same treatment, I wouldn’t be responsible for a single dime. However, I try to avoid hospitals for one specific reason: there are too many sick people there! I already have enough wrong with my body as it is; I can’t have totally new germs wreaking additional havoc upon me. I’d be even more screwed! You would think, though, that Medicare would much rather shell out the lousy three grand than pay a significantly larger bill for a hospital stay. And what if my infection worsened to the point where I would require more intensive care? The cost – staggering! I just can’t understand this rationale. It’s no wonder why Medicare is in trouble.

Well, the insurance simply would not budge – even with physician intervention – so Licitra had no choice but to try yet another oral antibiotic. It has been two weeks since I finished the course, and my signs of infection have disappeared. But if they return, the next step might very well be an exorcism!