Onto a New Medicine

Well, I have now had six months of injections in my eye to help rid me of aging macular degeneration (AMG) The good news I have to say it has helped somewhat. The better news is that I have an ophthalmologist who won’t quit! If something doesn’t work, he simply moves on to something else.

For each of the six months I have received this monthly injection directly into my eye, the doctor has noticed some improvement. Darn terrific, considering at the onslaught, we both knew it was so serious he did not have any hope of making any improvement; he was simply making every effort to preventing it from becoming any worse. The AREDS-2 he advised me to start taking…again, so sorry no eye doctors or GP's had ever recommended it to me in the past…..was not to help the eye that was too badly damaged. Rather, it is to stop the other eye, which also has AMD but the ‘dry’ variety…from getting worse. That, together with a far better diet heavy on green leafy vegetables, lots of fruit and olive oil and nuts, seems to be working. But back to the serious AMD. Over the past six months, while the doctor has seen improvement each month, ever so slightly, but nonetheless, improvement, it has not been that noticeable to me. The largest change, one I so welcome, is that I no longer see everything crooked. My criteria for the last half year has been the candles on the altar at church. At first there were 12 when there are really six, all of them decidedly taking a sharp lean to the left. Then I consistently started seeing only six candles, still askew. Then only occasionally were those candles leaning in. And now, I only ever see six candles and they are always standing straight up.

This month, the doctor informed me there had been no change, a sign to him the medication he was injecting had done all it could do. However, he added, if I’m game, he was interested in trying yet another medication, one he admittedly doesn’t use as much, one, which he said, could have harmful side effects, but one that offered promise. Would I try it? When I hesitated a bit over the “could have harmful effects” portion of what he said, he assured me whatever the detrimental effects, he felt confident he could correct them.

I’ve let this ophthalmologist inject a little needle in my eye, with me wide awake, alert and with my other eye open, every month for half a year. Of course I can trust him.

And while I have my trust in this doctor, my insurance company is another question. This particular medication, the doctor continued, isn’t covered by all insurance companies. Some won’t cover it at all, some will only over it as a last resort. Some will cover a portion of it. However, he said solemnly, it could cost $2,000 an injection. And injections could go on for several months. Think about that. In an age when we are giving money to people rather than offer them jobs close to home, when we are offering health care, even drivers licenses and voting rights to people who are not Americans, we still have pharmaceutical companies who are making drugs that cost $2,000 a dose. Does that sound American? Something we can be proud of?

For me, it has been wonderful. Besides a great doctor, I have a great insurance policy, thanks to my husband’s 40 years of hard work on the railroad. That company picks up what Medicare does not, and for me, that company and my policy are picking up the entire tab for this new magical drug.

I realize I’m fortunate; I’m grateful for so many people and things, not the least of which is living in an area where I can find outstanding doctors and having a hardworking husband who ensured I would be taken care of if he predeceased me, which he has. So I received this new injection, for the first time. The doctor and I will give it a second try next month. After that, who knows? But for now, things are looking much clearer, much brighter. And I’m grateful.


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