In September 2017, we were forced to switch my meds to a new pharmacy (2) the pharmacist fee at my previous pharmacy (1) was 10% of the cost of the med BEFORE co-pay or anything. Which meant that for my two controller inhalers it was about $60 in pharmacy (1) fees every 2-3 months depending on how sick I was and that was on top of our copay. That did not include my Betaderm 0.05%, Betaderm 0.05%, Clindamycin phosphate and tretinoin, Avamys, sinus flush, rescue inhaler, Differin, whatever topical or oral antibiotic I happened to be on after a simple cut, and (if I needed it that month) prednisone.
On top of that, I had medical expenses that insurance would not cover (even when my doctors tried to write prescriptions for them) because they were available over the counter. Things like MSM, Vit D, Vit C, B6, Zinc, 2 different allergy meds, Dimenhydrinate (can be purchased as Gravol), Microspore, and melatonin.
There were also some things that we knew we would end up having to buy. Things like KT-tape, extra strength A535, Voltaren, Excedrin Migraine, Sinutabs, Magnesium Citrate, a multivitamin that was just less than an inch in length, pain meds, special shampoo and soap so that my scalp would not bleed and be covered in hives, instant hand warmers for pain management, and honey Halls for post asthma attacks when my throat was sore.
In a month, we could easily spend on average $200-$300 on pharmacy fees, plus co-pay $250-$400 (co-pay only existed until I maxed out on insurance at $1000), on things insurance would not cover and would end up buying, $300-$400, so when my mom saw that a different pharmacy had a pharmacy fee of only $1.50 per prescription we switched pharmacies (to 2).
About 2 weeks later I got sick, we thought it was just because it was now early October and getting cold outside. By the time I went to see my pulmonologist in November we discovered that my PFT results had dropped after being stable in the mid to low 90’s for almost 2 years. My team was just as confused as I was about the sudden drop in my PFTs but decided not to change my controller med and to give me a course of antibiotics just in case it was the beginnings of a chest infection. Or my body reacting to the tare in my intercostal muscles.
I went on a grade 12 trip to “let us relax stressing and remind us that we were one huge family” a few days later and as fun as it was I just did not feel like myself, I was constantly out of breath and just could not focus.
At Christmas, we had a scare. We ended up being forced to celebrate Christmas a few days late (28th) because of being snowed in, but on the morning we were supposed to celebrate I could not stop coughing and was dizzy sitting down. My mother being the “stick to the plan” person that she is, was not going to go to the ER until the Asthma Action plan said we had no other choice. She handed me my rescue inhaler and I took it twice through my spacer but nothing happened I did not feel any relief. She called my pharmacy (2) and got them to transfer my relief meds up to the closest pharmacy (3) out of fear that I did not get an relief because the inhaler was empty. A soon as I took the new inhaler I felt different. Within an hour or two I was feeling ok again and was ready to fully participate in the Christmas activities.
That would not be the last time my relief inhaler would not work as expected. Sometimes it would take 2 or three doses (4-6 puffs) to start feeling in control of my breathing again. Just before Easter I was in a class at school and started to get incredibly light-headed, I looked down at my nails and they were almost plum. Luckily the teacher of the class that I was in grew up with an asthmatic sister, so as soon as she saw the dusty lips and the ashen face she knew I needed my inhaler immediately. By the time my mother came to get me my nails were still slightly purple and I was still lightheaded but nowhere near as badly as before. After emailing with my team it was decided that if I got worse I would start on Prednisone again. All in all, it took 8 puffs of “Ventolin” to get me under control that day.
A very similar situation happened the night before the royal wedding. And I spent the entire day of the wedding with my mother wondering if it was time to go to the ER. As I drifted in and out between coughing fits.
As all of this stuff with my lungs was happening, my heart rate would spike to between 180-200 and I would feel faint. My resting heart rate also went from the high 70’s and low 90’s to the 110’s to 130’s. It felt like I was running a marathon and could never sleep enough.
In mid-February, just before we left for Disney I started coughing up a mixture of mucus and blood. I remember sitting in the girl’s bathroom at school and sobbing the first time it happened because I was so scared that I was dying. At that time, my resting heart rate was close to 115 even when seated.
When OHIP+ became a thing, I was ecstatic because my mom and I finally did not need to do the 90-minute trip to the pharmacy (2). Suddenly we could switch back to the pharmacy (1) that was less than a KM away because all of the fees would be covered.
Switching pharmacies was much more difficult than I remember it being just months before. At first the pharmacy said that they had no one with my health card number or name, then they eventually transferred my Advair and told the pharmacy (1) that that was the only prescription that I had, the pharmacy (1) tech called our house and made me give them a list of ALL of the prescriptions and prescribing doctors that could possibly be under file at the other pharmacy (2).
The very first time I got my successfully meds filled back at the pharmacy (1) we had to leave I realized that the packaging was different and there was a different logo on some of my meds but, I assumed that the company had just changed their logo. The first time I had to take my new rescue inhaler I noticed that not only did it had a different after taste but it only took 2 puffs to get me under control when it would have taken me many more with the prescription from the other pharmacy (2).
After talking to my team and going in for a consult we discovered that when I should have been getting the original the entire time I was actually getting the generic that had only been proven to be 60%-80% effective. I was so angry and heart broken.
We still aren’t sure how many of the meds I was receving were generics and how many weren’t but I do blame the pharmacy (2) for some of the grief of the past few months. Was the decline in PFTs partly because of the injury and partially because I was having to take such high doses of the rescue meds? Probably, the injury, according to my team, exacerbated the symptoms I was already dealing with because my lungs were inflamed because of the non-working meds.
One of my friends recently asked me if I was going to peruse legal action and the simple answer is no. The longer answer is that in 30 days I move into university and I really don’t have time to be dealing with a lawsuit in Toronto and be going to school in Thunder