as i mentioned in my last post, i'm medicated.
the biopsy that the dermatologist took confirmed that i do have eczema (atopic dermatitis), which is good in that it's not anything life-threatening, but bad in that eczema cannot be cured. i've been told my whole life that i have it, but this dermatologist was the first to suggest a biopsy. i've spent thousands of dollars over the past few years at various doctors trying to find something that is triggering the eczema with no luck so far. typically, most people find that eczema is triggered by an allergy to something - food, detergent, pollens, etc. while i do have a number of allergies, avoiding them has not made a difference. i am still currently thinking that i could have something else going wrong internally (hormone levels, adrenal function) and because something is out of whack, it is irritating my skin.
the dermatologist said i was a severe case (go figure) and recommended i go on cyclosporine. the good news is, it's working. things aren't perfect, but they are noticeably better. prior to starting the medicine, i was never comfortable, i was always itchy, and i was usually in pain (from the itching mostly). i couldn't concentrate at work, i haven't slept through the night in over two years, and i was very irritable. i spent the weekends sitting on the couch because i was so uncomfortable. now, my skin is almost totally clear, the itching has subsided (but isn't fully gone), and i'm a more productive employee. i'm still not quite sleeping great yet, and josh would quickly admit that i am still irritable, but at least i'm comfortable.
the bad news is, it's working. cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant. obviously, suppressing your immune system is not exactly a good thing. it was originally used in kidney transplant patients so that their body wouldn't reject the new organ, but has been adapted for use in other conditions such as eczema. unfortunately, it's not going to solve the problem - it will only provide temporary relief while i am on the drug, and i can only be on it for 6 months to a year. any longer than that will lead to very bad long-term side effects like liver failure. cyclosporine can affect your electrolytes and triglycerides, so i have to go in every two weeks for blood testing to make sure my levels are still normal.
while i'm glad it's working, i can barely stomach the expense. one month of medicine costs $254. let's hope i don't have to be on it very long! part of this is because i am on the hsa plan which (i thought) doesn't include prescription coverage. i tried using a 75%-off any prescription coupon (found online) but the walmart employee told me that my insurance discount was greater than the coupon (making the starting price of this medicine $1000?!?!?). i tried to explain that my plan does not have prescription coverage and then remembered i was talking to a walmart employee, so i just gave up. (i am hoping my pharm friend gracie can help explain??) i had this filled at walmart because i figured it'd be cheaper there than other pharmacies, but i may call around to the walgreen's and cvs's to see if they'll tell me how much it would cost me there.
so, no real progress has been made just yet, but i am comfortable and hopefully can find a doctor who will do some more tests soon. in the meantime, at least i can workout a little - when the soreness from tuesday's run goes away.