24 February 2012

What the Heck!

I have been a victim of the *dribble information at the last possible moment* since day one with Thane's treatment for Lyme. It has made it really difficult to budget for care that is already at the very least stretching my meager budget and often times resulting in my own health needs being put on the back burner.

This continues even now to plague the treatment Thane receives. The client should not have to be the one initiating the follow up on labs and what route is to be taken, continue, or ended. However, that is exactly what it is in my situation. It makes it much more difficult when one also has disabilities that impact communication and staff that would rather hang up on you or tell you they are too busy to deal with you.

I have hit an even bigger snag though. It has to do with the way I am able to afford Thane's treatment. I live in a state that does not require the veterinarian to write a prescription if they are able to dispense the drug themselves from their office. Though the AVMA says that veterinarians should honor a clients request, its not a law that they do in my state.

When Thane's prescription was handled by the specialist, there was no problem. He just contacted the pharmacy for me where I could then go pick it up. With my regular veterinarian taking over his care however that has not been so simple. When the specialist requested three additional months on the meds, I figured it'd work the same way as before. That was not my experience however. When I finally did get them to agree to call the prescription in to the pharmacy, it required me to first go into the vet office and sign a waiver for internet prescription (which this was not since it was just up the road at the local pharmacy) and pay them a ten dollar fee before they would even take the few minutes it required to call the prescription in. I had to do all of this in one of the worst storms of the season without the assistance of my guide dog, who at the time still had vision deficit which prevented him from guiding in rain or after dark.

The three months meds behind us, I budgeted for the two hundred dollar vet bill for re-testing and the possibility that his meds would need continued if he was not negative. What I was faced with however was a whole new policy at the vet clinic. Not only did they never get back to me about where we were to go from here other than the short term response to finish the current meds I had on hand, when I finally got a response because I contacted them for the third time for it, I learned that now their policy was to not honor a clients request for a prescription to be filled elsewhere if they could fill it at the vet clinic. They made it sound like this had always been the policy when in fact, just in November I was told the waiver form and fee was the policy.

You may wonder what the big deal is. If my vet could dispense it why not just get it from her clinic.  There were two obstacles with this however. One being that Thane reacted to the brand my vet dispenses when we received a week of the medication from her previously. This points to a filler sensitivity. The second is a whopper though- the price tag. I can get his meds for about eighteen bucks at the local pharmacy This is actually the high price for the area pharmacies. Some places only charge eight bucks for it. While my vet clinic wants nearly seventy dollars for the same prescription for a one month supply!

I was faced with a heartbreaking and scary situation. I had to inform them that without a prescription for the local pharmacy I would have to cease treatment. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I knew that with how short a duration that he had been symptom free that the reality was that he would become infected again and the whole cycle of fighting for his meds would begin anew.

I gave the vet clinic a couple of hours to respond. When I heard nothing, I sent a fax to the specialist. I explained what was taking place and why I would not be able to fulfill his orders. I also stated that if he had any ideas to help me, I would really like to hear his options.

In less than an hour, I heard back from the vet clinic- they had agreed to call his prescription into the pharmacy, but I was told this was to be a just this time situation. Though I am grateful for the fact, that I have the meds Thane needs for the month, this isn't over for me or for Thane.

As hard as this is going to be to venture out and create a new Veterinarian/ Client with guide dog working partnership, it is the only course of action that will resolve this situation. Thane needs from one to three months more of meds (with three being the most realistic for how ill he was). Even if I could afford to pay the price my vet wants for the meds, I would not do it. This is more than me wanting to do things my way. It is a principle to me that you don't pay such an extremely elevated price for something when it can be obtained for less (not to mention Thane's reaction to her brand), while living on such a fixed income and having to do without so much that is medically necessary.

I'm not talking about refusal to accept a dispensed drug for something that can be handled with a week of meds. This is a chronic med (10th month beginning now) for a disease that went about as far as it could and the client still survived because the vet did not believe that our ticks carry disease and therefore never considered the possibility that he could have Lyme.

For lack of a better way to describe this situation, it is ludicrous!

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