At my last checkup with my neurologist, he ran through the standard office visit litany of tests. I touched my nose, I puffed my cheeks, I walked to the end of the hall and turned and walked back.
When he turned his wrists and said, “Show me how you change a light bulb,” I smiled. My arms at my sides, I replied, “I ask my husband to do that.”
Though he didn’t laugh out loud (I did notice, however, perhaps a slight effort to remain his serious self), I still like him. I believe it’s important to have a good relationship with my doctors, where I can trust that they are not only listening, but truly hearing what I’m saying. No joke.
So during the appointment, when I mentioned that sleep (or lack thereof) ranked highest on my list of disruptive symptoms, he nodded. He asked a few questions. He took notes. After several more minutes of thought, he suggested I change from the three-a-day doses of Mirapex to the newly available once-daily, extended-release version. He gave me a coupon with the prescription to try it for thirty days.
I was pleasantly surprised and highly irritated.
The pleasant surprise: The extended release version leaves me with a more even sense of its effects, keeping rigidity at bay, reducing the side effects (particularly the stand-up-too-fast lightheaded sensation), and easing the long night’s journey into day. It gives me more ability to turn in bed, which allows for an occasional unfamiliar comfortable spell.
The irritation: My insurance company does not cover this medication. From what I can tell, their policy dictates that if the active ingredient(s) is the same in a new drug as in a less expensive (i.e., generic) brand, then they’ll cover only the latter.
Chemistry never ranked up there as a favorite subject of mine, but apparently the active ingredient in this once-daily pill is the same. The inclusion of the extended release aspect holds the key to making my day (and night) less challenging, the ingredient that keeps me more active.
My doctor did the right thing. He prescribed a treatment he felt would be of benefit to his patient. Now it’s time for the insurance company to change the old, burnt-out light bulb of their policy and step up their benefits.