Miss Migraine Gets Angry Part 2

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. A version of this post appeared first on my blog of the same name on December 19, 2012.

If you read Miss Migraine Gets Angry, you know that my insurance company tried to limit my access to triptans, and that I planned to follow through with them and correct their egregious money-grubbing behavior. (Oops, did I type that out loud?)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t entirely successful, partly because I’m currently unable to take triptans at all (more on that in another post). But my neurologist did send the insurance company an authorization for them to a.) cover Maxalt and b). give me the full 12 pills my prescription calls for.

A tower of pills

Insurance companies’ policies determine our level of access to health care.

While I was waiting for the authorization to go through, I called the FDA, and they directed me to information online proving that no, the FDA does not regulate insurance companies and that, yes, the recommended Maxalt dosing comes out to 12 10-mg. pills per month [Note: The page I had linked here doesn’t seem to exist anymore, and my lazy Googling did not come up with a ready replacement]. I emailed this to the insurance company with a polite, but firm, note. I never received a response, and they refused to let me speak directly with the pharmacy department. The woman I spoke with, while polite, seemed frustrated with my insistence.

So did it help? Has my insurance company changed its policies? Nope.

There’s one more step I can take, though. That’s to call the local branch of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an organization that helps protect the public’s interest when it comes to insurance of all kinds, including health. I’ve been too sick with migraines to do this (and the urgency isn’t there since I can’t take the pills), but I plan to after the holidays.

This issue goes beyond me. It’s an issue that affects all migraine patients. In the greater scheme, insurance companies that limit prescriptions of any kind affect not only all of us suffering from  chronic illnesses, but those suffering from acute illnesses as well.

(And as a foot note, the authorization did go through and was approved, but there was some kind of issue between the pharmacy and the insurance company. I didn’t bother figuring out what it was since I can’t take Maxalt now anyway, but let’s just say this has been anything but a smooth process.)

Has your insurance company tried to limit your medications? What steps have you taken?

 

Miss Migraine: My eyes are fine! (Mostly)

Banner that says "The Adventures of Miss Migraine"

The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. A version of this post appeared first on August 1, 2012, on my blog of the same name.

Upon finding out I have chronic migraines, people almost always ask me, “Do you need glasses?”

My answer has always been a (probably somewhat snippy) “No, my eyes are fine.” But there’s always been that shred of doubt. Well, what IF I do need glasses? I’ve always had 20/20 vision, but what if years of hunching over books, reading in low light and staring at computer screens has caused my eyes to degenerate?

Today, I saw an optometrist. At the end of my appointment, while I attempted to blink away retinal burn from the blinding lights he’d been shining into the back of my eyes, he told me what I had known all along: My vision wasn’t causing my migraines. In fact, he said, the two (in my case) were unrelated. I should have asked him to write me a short note that I could laminate and pull out of my purse when asked the glasses question:

Kelly’s chronic migraines are not caused by her vision.

Signed,

Dr. H.

My right eye squeaked by with 20/20, and my left with 20/25. I was prepared to brag to my husband that actually, dear, my eyes are FINE, thank you very much (it was he who insisted I make this appointment–I would have lived with the doubt). Of course, there was a caveat. There’s always a caveat.

Dr. H. flipped lens after lens in front of my right and then left eye, asking each time if the change made the letters on the wall blurrier or clearer. When he removed the viewfinder from in front of me, he jotted a quick note on my chart.

“Well, you’ve got a bit of astigmatism,” he pronounced.

He asked if I knew what astigmatism was. I did: Basically, your cornea is shaped funny, more like an oval than a circle. My father has it. So along with my flat feet and asthma, I can now count astigmatism among the ailments he’s given me. I think I need to ask him again if he ever gets migraines.

As children, our brains have an easy time adapting to the misshapen cornea, but as we get older, focusing gets more difficult. So it’s likely that my vision will deteriorate as I age. Dr. H. suggested I get glasses to wear as-needed, like when I’m using the computer or driving at night, to reduce eye strain.

Wearing them a little bit or all the time apparently won’t make my eyes better or worse, but I will have to adapt to them. With astigmatism, you also see the world at a slight tilt, but your brain corrects for it. These glasses will also correct for it, so when I get them, it will seem like I’m looking through a fishbowl for a few days, and I can expect a headache.

But then again, I always expect a headache.

What annoying questions do people ask you about your migraines? Do vision problems contribute to your pain?