Yearly Archives: 2008

Dealing with insurance is not fun, especially when you’re in pain, and don’t know what the future holds.

My experience has shown, that the first place to start when you have a problem is with your insurance company’s customer service. What I have found, is that when I call customer service, I can get very different answers for the same question depending on who I talk to. So depending on the complexity of your issue, I would encourage you to make more than one call to see if you do get a consensus. We hope that we will, but if information wasn’t understood, or given incorrectly, you are on your own to straighten it out.

When I had my Rituximab treatment, what I actually got from my insurance was  in writing before the treatment. Customer service sent me a document that indicates what charges I could expect.

Labs are another thing to keep an eye on. When seeing several doctors, many of them want their own labs. It’s very easy to get duplicate lab work. Make sure to check your lab records, and what labs your doctor is ordering. For example one complete blood count (CBC) will do. In many cases your doctor will accommodate not duplicating labs, but it is up to you to let them know if you’ve already had recent lab work by another doctor.

Generally it’s pretty easy to get that lab work to the other doctor. I actually had a doctor who  ordered a CBC when I had just had one recently from another doctor in the same clinic. When I brought it to her attention shortly thereafter, she was very accommodating letting billing know so I wouldn’t get charged. She wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t brought it to her attention.

There are many other areas where being alert and not afraid to ask questions can pay off.

Remember, when you need us we are in your corner!

Most individuals have a primary care physician. Many have a dentist. Many women have an OB/GYN for women’s health.  There are a variety of specialists’ that one may have: Internists, Ear/Nose & Throat (ENT), Ophthalmologists, Rheumatologists, and more.

When you are being treated for any form of pemphigus or pemphigoid (P/P) and are on any of the various treatments it is best to keep all of your doctors in the loop.  Each one should know of your present condition and the medications that you are taking as this can affect your diagnosis with each specialty examination.

If you will be considering an invasive surgical procedure of any kind, (including dental work) both your surgeon (and dentist) and your dermatologist need to be in touch.  Usually, your P/P medications can be increased for a few days prior and a few days afterwards to prevent any flare-ups.

Also advise your dental hygienist when you are having your teeth cleaned, so that he/she can be extra gentle with your gums.  (Many Hygienists are just now learning about P/P through the IPPF Awareness Campaign!)

When you are a new patient at a doctor’s office and filling out the information sheet, be sure to list all the medications you are taking for your P/P condition.  Your new doctor will then ask you about them and be aware of your situation.

Remember, when you need us we will be in your corner!

The IPPF strives to do many things for the pemphigus and pemphigoid community, but our three biggest goals are to raise awareness, create a support network, and to increase education. One of the biggest tools that we have at our disposal to accomplish those goals is social media.

Todd Kuh and Marc Yale

On September 26th Todd Kuh and Mariah Lowinske, two patient advocates with Pemphigus Vulgaris, and I attended the American Academy of Dermatology Legislative Conference in Washington DC. As a member of the Coalition of Skin Diseases, the IPPF sends advocates to this conference annually so we can learn about the latest initiatives prior to lobbying Congress for support for treatment and research.

In a previous Coaches Corner I have given prednisone tips. It is a good time now for an update as there are new patients who are diagnosed and who are leery of the side effects that can come from taking a steroid treatment.

No one chooses to take prednisone as a medication.  However, it is used frequently for a variety of medical conditions, like pemphigus and pemphigoid (P/P). Prednisone is often used as the first line of defense against P/P. It works rather quickly and is effective in diminishing disease activity.

To learn more about prednisone, how it is used, what precautions to take before taking it, dietary suggestions, and side effects please go to this link from the U.S. Library of Medicine:

A few of the side effects from taking prednisone can be:

Headache, dizziness, difficulty, falling asleep or staying asleep, extreme changes in mood, changes in the way fat is spread around the body, extreme tiredness, weak muscles, and more.

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

vision problems, eye pain, redness, or tearing, sore throat, fever, chills, cough, or other signs of infection, depression, upset stomach, lightheadedness, shortness of breath(especially during the night), swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Please note that not everyone experiences every side effect and that even taking treatments like aspirin can come with side effects.  Everyone has his or her own unique physiological makeup. Therefore, while experiences with prednisone may be similar, they are not exactly alike.

Remember, when you need us we are in your corner!

As a Patient Educator for the IPPF, I have the fantastic opportunity to travel around the country to different dental schools and give lectures on my journey with pemphigus vulgaris (PV). It’s an empowering experience to have a hundred people listen to my story at once. But it’s also important that the audience relates to me. I’m a person, not just a patient.

The IPPF has maintained a “News and Information” section for many years. The launch of PemPress signals a new era in how we share information with our community. Our overarching goal is to increase public knowledge of the IPPF and our programs and services while providing P/P patients with information that improves their quality of life.