My insurance company changed my Benlysta (belimumab) prescription to a new pharmacy this week. So, I had to answer all of their new patient questions. First, we worked through the important stuff such as my name, address, and how I wanted to settle my copayment.
For those unfamiliar with Benlysta, you can’t run down to your local pharmacy to pick up this medication. It must come from a specialty pharmacy. Until a couple of months ago, I didn’t know such a thing existed.
You would think that a person who takes 20 prescriptions a day would be familiar with everything there is to know about pharmacies. I love my local pharmacy, I have the owner’s cellphone number, I know his parents. I live in a small town, and we run into each other while shopping or eating out. He lets me know if there is a problem with any of my medications.
But these specialty pharmacies don’t know me, so I had to answer a lot of questions. The staff at my new specialty pharmacy asked if I had received training to administer Benlysta by injection. I had. Well, sort of. The first specialty pharmacy had asked me if I had previously self-injected, and when I replied that I hadn’t, they directed me to a YouTube video that showed me how to do it. Fortunately, the video was very clear. I guess that counts as training.
Then, the current specialty pharmacy wanted to know if I take any other prescriptions. Yes. Do you have a half-hour while I read them to you? Next, they said I should avoid pregnancy while using this treatment. They had my date of birth right there. A little quick math would have revealed that I’m close to 60, so pregnancy is not a risk.
After I’d answered all of these questions, I had a consultation with the pharmacist. She had more queries. Was I planning on getting any vaccinations in the next 30 days? No, but if I win the lottery, I may do a little traveling. Now I have to plan my vacations with my pharmacists.
So far, I have kept my sense of humor as much as possible. I realize that they’re merely doing their jobs and that they have reasons for all of their questions. Someone down the line has had an adverse reaction that led to these precautions. And I do appreciate their looking out for me.
But the last question had me scratching my head. The pharmacist asked if I was aware that this medicine would lower my immunity and make me more susceptible to catching a disease. And she cautioned me to stay away from sick people.
I recently wrote about being more susceptible to colds, so I know what she meant. But it struck me as funny that I have a disease that affects the function of my immune system and I’m being treated with a medication that further weakens my immunity. And I’m being warned to avoid people who can make me sicker.
Sometimes, you have to laugh at all of the safeguards that are put in place to protect us. When you walk around in a body that is trying to kill itself, you can either laugh or cry. For as long as possible, I’m going to choose to laugh every chance I get.
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