Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Just Got Pregnant and Take MS Drugs? Here’s What You Should Do

Learning that you are pregnant can be an exciting event. But unexpectedly becoming pregnant while you are taking powerful medications can cause panic and concern. For many medications, research studies have not been thoroughly conducted to ascertain the safety of specific medication use before or during pregnancy.

What to do once you learn you are pregnant
  • Contact your doctor. The best person equipped to work with you in deciding what you need to do to ensure the safety of your unborn child is your healthcare provider. If you have MS, contact your neurologist. If you have RA, contact your rheumatologist. You get the idea.
  • Women who become pregnant while using prescription medication can contribute to the body of evidence-based information regarding the exposure of medications during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Contact MotherToBaby.org, a service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), to speak with experts, obtain information, and register with research studies. 
  • Contact the manufacturer of the medications you are taking. Some companies offer programs that enroll patients who become pregnant into studies to track their progress and outcomes.

Read this post in its entirety:

Pregnant with MS: Drug Exposure

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thank You For Reading! 1,000,000 and counting

When I started this blog in 2007, I had no idea where it would take me...literally across the globe.

I've met an amazing group of individuals who live with strength, beauty, and grace in the face of adversity. I've met professionals who are passionate about their work and want to improve the lives of people living with chronic disease.

The MS and RA communities are full of people who lift each other up and I'm pleased to be able to contribute to our collective body of support and knowledge.

Thank you for making me, and my blog, part of your journey as a patient, caregiver, loved one, or friend.

***This blog recently surpassed 1,000,000 page views counted since May 2010.***
Thank you for visiting and reading!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Self-Pay Discount Offered by Hospital Patient Billing Department

A recent experience with the local hospital following a round of Rituxan treatment demonstrated that the local hospital has put in place patient-friendly policies.

During the conversation with patient billing, I learned that the $9,186 charge for a single Rituxan infusion had been reduced since the system had incorrectly designated my account as self-pay. The discount was a whooping 50 percent!!

If I were a patient who truly did not have health insurance, this would be great. To get a discount without having to ask or negotiate for it. How amazing is that?!

I’m glad that I do have insurance coverage and that the drug company will pick up my share of the cost for the drug portion of the treatment. But it's nice to know that my hospital has put policies in place that help patients obtain and pay for treatment. Check with you hospital to see if they offer similar discounts—it could make a real difference!

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Hospital Offers Self-Pay Discount to Patients

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gadolinium Can Cause Troublesome Side-Effects

Reported by ProPublica, patients who have undergone MRI with contrast have been experiencing concerning side-effects, such as cognitive effects. It is known that patients with impaired kidney function who are unable to excrete gadolinium should avoid contrast agents. However, three recent studies reveal that even patients with healthy kidneys are retaining traces of gadolinium, a potentially toxic metal, in different parts of the body.

Of the nine gadolinium-based contrast agents sold in the US, Omniscan and Magnevist are the ones causing problems. Radiologists are encouraged to change their prescribing habits, rather than stop using contrast agents because of their proven benefits to patients.

In a statement, an FDA spokesperson said the agency is “carefully reviewing” the new studies to “better understand the potential consequences to determine what further action is needed, which may include taking steps to ensure the public is aware of these preliminary findings.”

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Problems with Gadolinium MRI Contrast Agent

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Do You Do When Your Doctor Retires?

I’ve been transferred from older retiring doctors to young doctors so many times. After I moved to the DC area, I needed a new eye doctor and asked for a recommendation from my longtime doctor in Oklahoma who had known me for almost 30 years. He recommended a former classmate who had a great reputation. After a few years, and my first bout of optic neuritis, this optometrist welcomed a younger doctor to the practice to whom he eventually sold the practice. The transition went smoothly enough but every once in a while I contemplate how I have more years under my belt as an eye patient (since the age of four) than my new eye doctor has been alive.

A similar situation occurred when my dentist, partially chosen because he was also a trombone player and understood the unique needs of a performing musician, brought on a new partner who eventually took over the practice.

I guess that’s just part of growing older, as there are more and more people younger than you.

Read this post in its entirety:

When Your Doctor Retires

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lymph Vessels Surround Brain, New Research Shows

In a paradigm-shifting discovery, neuroscientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by lymphatic vessels that were previously undiscovered, and not thought to exist, defying current textbook teachings. The finding may have substantial implications in the study and treatment of major neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis.

"We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role," Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, professor in the UVA Department of Neuroscience and director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) said in a press release. "Hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component."

‘They'll have to change the textbooks.’

Previously thought to end at the base of the brain, the lymphatic system is comprised of vessels that carry lymph, a clear-to-white fluid filled with white blood cells that help remove toxins from the body. The lymphatic system has been very well mapped and is known to be connected to various systems in the body, but this is the first time that it has been detected in the tissues surrounding the brain, known as the meninges.

Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA's discovery.
Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA's discovery.
Credit: University of Virginia Health System

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Immune System is Connected to the Brain, Groundbreaking Research Shows