Upon learning that my Copaxone was potentially shooting blanks, I decided to call a relatively new company, that I will not name, but instead call “Plan B.” It is a benefit that many large corporations are providing for their employees as a type of assurance that your health care professionals are on the right track. My husband’s company is one that provides it and so I thought it appropriate at this particular crossroad to utilize the benefit and see what they would recommend for a new medication. A phone call begins the process which involves an intake call, with a registered nurse, where you provide a health history and list of facilities and practitioners who have had you in their care up to this point. You then have to sign a release in order for Plan B to collect your records, which are then sent to an expert in the field that applies. A report is written and delivered to you within a few weeks.
I was very organized when the nurse called me. They make an appointment with you so that you can have the information ready and I had my list of doctors, addresses, phone numbers and dates all prepared. My biggest questions included whether or not their specialist considered 9 months long enough to determine the effectiveness of Copaxone, whether the changes between my June MRI and November MRI, warranted a change in medication, and also if they had any opinion on using alternative therapies, like diet, exercise and acupuncture to treat multiple sclerosis.
This, of course, was just one of the plans of action I took after Dr. K’s phone call telling me I needed to switch medications. In the mean time, my husband and I poured over the brochures that described the various medications, he on his side of the bed, me on mine, one moment certain what to choose and then changing our minds sometimes after a few minutes, sometimes a few days. I just couldn’t pick my poison. Dr. K said there was no rush, but having stopped my Copaxone refills shipment, I knew that in 19 days I would be naked, unarmed. This didn’t sit well with me, so I knew a decision needed to be made. I wanted to wait for the Plan B report, as it seemed prudent to see what they had to say in the matter before making any decisions.
The wait was excruciating. I felt as though I could hear the clock ticking, mocking me. And then it occurred to me; what is the rush? I decided to call Dr. K and tell her I wasn’t ready to switch. I wanted to wait a full year before making the decision. That was only 3 more months, so could we just reorder my refills and wait just a bit longer? I wanted to get my Plan B report. I wanted to try my new diet. I wanted to get passed Christmas. I just wasn’t ready to decide. It was a relief to make that call, but I was still waiting for Plan B and it seemed to be taking forever. At one point the case nurse called to clarify that I had an MRI in November because it had not been sent along with the rest of my records. I was more than certain that I indeed had an MRI in November, as this was the one that was the crux of my dilemma; my whole reason for calling Plan B in the first place. She apologized, though my MS specialist should have been apologizing for not sending the requested material, and the Plan B nurse said she would be sending my case to the expert as soon as everything was collected. It was interesting to me that it was omitted.
When finally I received my secure mail report in late January, I was nervous and excited to read what the Plan B expert had to say. I saw the email on my phone but waited till I got home to read it. I wanted to print it out and thoroughly take it in. I darted up the stairs to my computer and pulled up the report. I printed the 10 pages, hoping to not run out of ink and took the report to the couch. I proceeded to read my intake interview and the remarks made by the expert specific to my diagnoses and treatment. The expert, Dr. B, confirmed the diagnoses, which I wasn’t questioning. He confirmed the choice of Copaxone as being a good course of action to treat relapsing remitting MS and confirmed that my primary care physician and subsequent practitioners took the necessary steps in testing to eliminate other causes for my symptoms. This was all pretty much expected, but what I read somewhere around page 9, was not. The Plan B expert stated that there were no changes noted between the June MRI and the November MRI report. What? I read it again, the second opinion expert did not see any changes between the June MRI and the November MRI. I shouted it out loud to my husband and he was ecstatic. ”That’s great!”, was his response. “That’s great” was my response as well, though my intonation was a little more incredulous than my husbands. While he was looking at it as me not having had new lesions, which would be, in itself, very good news, I was looking at it as, somebody is mistaken; thus a seed of doubt was planted.