Health Insurance: Managing the Changes that Unexpectedly Happen While Your Child is Seeking Help for Their Medical Condition

Being a parent of a child living with chronic migraine comes with its share of numerous obstacles. Between getting the referrals from the primary care physician to seek a proper diagnosis from a neurologist or headache specialist then figuring out with treatment options are suitable for your kid so they can attend school more often than not; you barely have time to worry about much else.

You should be able to rely on your child’s provider and health insurance to help make each medical related issue run smoothly. For the most part, it will be an effortless feat. That’s when you can’t help but be thankful for having an incredible medical professional taking care of your kid and the right type of coverage that gets your son or daughter feeling more like themselves.

Regrettably, there will be times when you are on the phone for hours on end or standing in front of your child’s provider asking for guidance on how to not lose your sanity when disputing a denial for treatment or tests that could benefit your kid.

In the past five years of seeking treatment for my son’s chronic migraine diagnosis, our two major dilemmas were having his first neurologist relocate to a different state and his second neurologist name not be on the new health insurance company’s list of providers my ex-husband’s company switched over to.

I’ve learned if you are unprepared to deal with these new developments, it’s relatively easy to become overwhelmed with decisions that require a resolution in a very time sensitive manner.

It’s because of those unexpected developments; I want to share how I was able to successfully navigate through switching providers and have a positive experience while doing so.

Transitioning from one provider to another; especially when things are going so well, does not seem ideal to most people. The last thing we wanted to hear is if my son wanted to keep seeing his neurologist, we’d have to travel halfway across the United States to her new office. She’d still be covered under our insurance, but there were the added expenses that just didn’t seem feasible at that time.

A common factor some people are forced to take into consideration is would you be able to afford the extra expense of continuing to do office visits with that provider? You’ve entrusted your child’s health with this medical professional for months, possibly years and seen a vast improvement in your kid’s overall well-being. However, the financial impact has the potential to lead to more expenses than your budget allows.

I ran into this issue 2 years into my son Colton’s initial migraine diagnosis. We learned his neurologist was relocating to another state. The paranoia immediately stepped in leaving me unsure of what to do next. Even with the existence of virtual visits, going for in-office visits twice a year wasn’t going to work within our budget.

Thankfully, my child’s neurologist offered to help us with finding a new provider. Ones she felt were very knowledgeable about Colton’s other migraine diagnosis: abdominal. The nice part about her recommendations is these neurologists were located in the same office she had practiced at.

Soon after choosing a suitable provider to treat my child, a consult followed so that we had a chance to exchange vital information that was relevant to my son’s health progress before his next follow-up appointment. This opportunity gave our family a chance to get familiar with one another and left Colton a bit more at ease especially since a proper introduction given by his current neurologist.

We then spent the next two years working as a team with Colton’s new neurologist. At the beginning of his first recommended treatment regimen, there was a significant amount of improvement with his health. He was
rarely missing full days of school. The best part was that he joined the middle school’s football team and was experiencing a better quality of life as a teenager.

The school year started great. Colton managed to attend all of his freshman
classes and played in each of his JV high school football games. If he did get a migraine attack, it was quickly aborted with non-prescription methods. I continued to remain hopeful, and so did he. That moment was temporary. We found ourselves back to his neurologist, grasping at straws trying to find a better treatment option than the last.

For the next four months, we made no progress. Colton’s health was at a complete standstill. I know the changes in the environment like the barometric pressure and humidity play a huge role in how frequent my teen’s migraine attacks hit him. It was a brutal winter, but there had to be something more we could do to help him.

During this time another unexpected change of events took place with our insurance provider. My ex-husband’s company was bought out, and with all of the modifications, we learned the health insurance we had for the past 15 years, was no more.

I had no clue what was in store for us with the new insurance provider, but I made it my priority to get as much as information I possibly could starting with the list of providers in their network.

When I didn’t see my teen’s current neurologist listed as in the network I temporarily went into panic mode. We already switched neurologist once before. Was it necessary to do it again?

There are a few options available when your provider is no longer in your network. You could continue to be that provider’s patient and pay the full cost for every visit out of your pocket. Another option would be to call your insurer directly to ask if they’d consider adding your kid’s provider to their network. You could even take that a step further by convincing your child’s doctor to join your insurer’s network.

Lastly, there’s always the option of finding a new provider. Again, this option may not be one you are ready to choose for your son or daughter. I will tell you with all of my battles with the insurance company; this one can be a somewhat frustrating and difficult one. If you are adamant about keeping your kid’s provider, it is possible to break through those insurance barriers by submitting an appeal. I will tell you that there is a lot of work to be done on your end. It is not an easy process, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be worth all of your time and effort.

Yes, we had a good relationship with Colton’s neurologist, but we also were struggling to get him to school on a daily basis. With no improvement in months, I knew the longer we waited to seek out another suitable provider, my son’s health would continue to be in limbo.

This time, I contacted our new insurance company and requested a list of neurologist and headache specialist that focused on migraine in teenagers. After researching the list of potential providers, I found one that I felt would be a good fit for my son and called the office to get the new patient registration started.

No matter what age your child may be, I feel it is important to discuss any new changes that are relevant to their healthcare. This kind of openness could make the transition between physicians a little less intimidating for your kid and will give you a chance to address any concerns or questions they may have before their first appointment.

Our first office visit to Colton’s 3rd neurologist could not have gone any more smoothly. Not only did his new provider know all about abdominal and chronic migraine, but he also gave my son assurance that we would find a way for him to experience a better quality of life. As a mom, that is all I could ask for my child. Someone that gives my teen hope he’ll be a full-time student that gets to play high school football just like all his other classmates.

Today Parenting Team: Why I Chose Self-Care over My Celebrity Interviews

My latest Parenting Team article is about my choice to put my health first. As much as I hate that I’m missing the opportunity to interview Christy Carlson Romano and Thomas  Ian Nicolas during today’s Wizard World Comic Con Chicago festivities, I know it’s important to practice self-care.

To read my Today Show post, click on the link provided below:

http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/why-i-chose-self-care-over-my-celebrity-interviews

HealthyWomen.Org Article: Tips for Preparing for the Holidays When You’re Chronically Ill

 

HealthyWomen.org gave me the opportunity to share how I prepare for the Holidays while managing my chronic illnesses: rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic migraine.

To read my latest article, click on the link provided below.

http://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/tips-preparing-holidays-when-youre-chronically-ill

Jogging Journal: Day 4

Thursday, December 7th at 4:30 A.M: Why I woke up this early, without an alarm, is beyond me! I didn’t even fall asleep until a little after midnight. Again, I am not a morning person, so this is very unusual for me.

As I dressed, my body made it known there would be some difficulties with putting on my shoes and tying them. My rheumatoid arthritis decided to make an unexpected appearance today. Just when I thought I had it under control with a higher dosage of methotrexate, the joints in my fingers refused to cooperate.

I wasn’t having it! With everything in me, I finished getting dressed and headed out to do not only one mile, but two. There was no jogging. That would have keep me bed bound the very second, I walked back through the door.

The key is knowing your body’s limitations in that moment.

I knew it would be somewhat impossible to walk, but if I could at pace myself and try to go further than the days before, I’d feel like I accomplished something great. When you live with multiple chronic illnesses, that is a big deal!

Until next time……..

Jogging Journal: Day 3

4:30A.M. on Wednesday December, 6th- I automatically woke up, thinking it was 5:15 and proceeded to get dressed. Of course, when I had dawned the 3 layers of clothing, that’s when I looked at my cell realizing it wasn’t even 5 o’clock yet!

So, I just went with it and headed outside in the 20° temps with my face mask covering everything, but my eyes.  5 minutes into my jog I came to a complete standstill. Both of my shin’s started to bother me. I haven’t felt pain in that area since I last played soccer in high school (back in 1994 to be exact!)

I didn’t want to stop, but knew jogging would only make things much worse. I forged ahead at a slow, comfortable pace. At least I would be able to do my full distance with less pain as possible. Something is better than nothing!

The moment I stepped foot in my door, I grabbed 2 ice packs and applied them to my shin’s knowing I had to take better care of them or there’d be no Day 4 of training for this gal.

 

 

Jogging Journal: Day 1 of Trainning for My First 5K

5:30 A.M. on Monday, December 4, 2017 – The sound of my alarm wakes me from my deep slumber. Normally, I’d hit the snooze button several times before deciding to get out of bed. But not on this morning. I was on a mission! One I had mentally prepared for over the past week and decided to finally put this plan into motion.

So, what had me waking up at the crack of dawn without any reservations?

I had finally convinced myself it was time to follow through with something I never saw myself doing and just go for it! I was going to start training to run my very first Miles for Migraine 5K.

Miles for Migraine is a registered 501(c)(3) Non-Profit with the mission of improving the lives of migraine patients and their families, raising public awareness about headache disorders, and helping find a cure for migraine. Miles for Migraine produces fun walk/run events, typically 2 mile walk and 5k and 10k race to raise money for migraine research. We also host youth camps for kids and teens impacted by migraine or other headache disorders.

To be honest I absolutely detest running! I played soccer as a kid and well into my teens, but I ended up being the goalie. I didn’t have to put as much effort into running on the field as my teammates. I only ran laps with the team before and after practice. Which was maybe the equivalent to 2 miles.

Back then I was physically capable of running. I just did everything possible to avoid it. Now, that I want to go out and run, my body could rebel against me.

Since being diagnosed with vestibular migraine, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, I’ve struggled to keep in shape. And it has nothing to do with me not wanting to workout. Your typical type of exercises like sit-ups, has triggered nasty bouts of vertigo that can go on for hours. Even things like dancing ends with me getting painful fibro flare-ups and hurting for several days.

With all those reasons avoid participating in a marathon, I still needed to make this happen. It is with that motivation I crawled out of bed this early this morning, dressed in 3 layers of shirts, 2 pairs of socks and 1 pair of leggings, and hit the pavement on what would be my first jog through my neighborhood.

As the cold air hit only the parts of my exposed skin, I waded through puddled filled sidewalks against the rain on a mission to get through the first mile without passing out our throwing up. Yes! I’m that out of shape.

My feet moved at a steady pace, one that I was most comfortable with until the rest of my body began to slow the other parts of me down. I was out of breath, but my drive to continue, kept me moving past one business after the next.

Before too long, my house was on the horizon and within seconds I’d be able to set foot through my front door knowing I not only accomplished Day 1 of training, but that I didn’t turn around the second it went from sprinkling to pouring rain.

A minute after walking into my living room, I felt a sense of pride and a whole lot of exhaustion. This was a major milestone for me. One I will look back on and say this is what true dedication is all about.

The small sacrifice I make each morning from here on out, is going to be worth it the moment I cross that finish line. Knowing that I accomplished something I never thought possible will truly be a victorious moment for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPG Blocks: Treatment for Migraine and Cluster Headaches

Each person living with migraine experiences different outcomes when it comes to pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments. In this article for Longevity, I share how a procedure called a SPG Block, helps with both my vestibular migraine and cluster headaches.

https://longevity.media/spg-blocks-treatment-for-migraine-and-cluster-headaches?_ga=2.31818492.372826613.1512279217-833467392.1510667544

Catalyst™ Cryohelmet Review: A 3 Year Perspective

***Disclaimer: I was originally gifted this product in 2014 for testing purposes.

All opinions are my own***

 

Over the past 30 years, I’ve sampled a wide variety of products geared towards people living with migraine. Finding relief; even if it’s only temporary, can make a world of difference for a person facing intolerable amount of pain. Whether it was based on the companies claims or testimonies of reliable sources, I’m always up for testing a new item without harmful side effects.

In my online quest to find a reliable and safer alternative to lessen or eliminate head pain, I came across the Catalyst™ Cryohelmet website.

So, what is a Catalyst™ Cryohelmet?

It is a device that applies targeted cold therapy to the head. With proper use your Catalyst helmet may be effective in reducing inflammation from head injuries, lowering body heat, and lessening migraine pain.

I was immediately sold on the idea of a helmet that could lessen migraine pain. Well, that and the part about staying cold for up to 90 minutes while wearing it. For those of us that endure debilitating symptoms during a migraine attack, the very last thing you want to do is move around. Not having to run back and forth to the freezer to replace a depleted gel pack every few minutes would truly be a blessing.

I didn’t waste any time reaching out to the company to share my current situation with chronic migraine and shortly after, received a complimentary helmet to test out.

I felt like a kid on Christmas day the moment UPS showed up with my Cyrohelmet. I didn’t waste any time ripping open that box to see that it included the following:

  • Neoprene Shell
  • CryoMax™ Cold Packs in UltraCool™ fabric pouches with Velcro
  • Insulated carry bag and CryoMAX™ square to keep Cryo-Helmet frozen for hours

I immediately tossed my new helmet in the freezer so that it would be ready the very second I needed it, which would be in the evening.

During the first night of using my Cryohelmet, I was fighting a level 7 migraine attack that included aura, nausea, being lightheaded and my head throbbing non-stop. I slipped the helmet on then tightened it as much as it would get and waited for some type of relief to kick in. Within a half hour, I managed to fall asleep with my helmet still on. 4 hours later I woke up without feeling nauseous or lightheaded and best of all, minimal head pain.

Whether I sleep on my stomach, side or back my Cryohelmet remaina secured on my head and continues to help fight against my migraine related pain

I was quite impressed with my first go around of this product. I loved that I could get out of bed and walk around the house without the helmet falling off my head. I could never get those gel packs with those plastic straps to stay in place for long. I even added extra Velcro straps to those things only to have them fall off the second I tossed or turned in bed.

If day 1 went that smoothly, I wondered how my Cryohelmet would hold up the next time I needed it for migraine relief. The very next day I got my answer when woke up to stabbing pain on the right side of my head with dizziness so severe I couldn’t move without making it worst. Luckily, my daughter had placed the helmet back in the freezer while I slept. It was at the perfect temperature to be effective enough to lessen my head pain to a tolerable state.

Because I have chronic migraine that meant I spent at least 15 or more days dealing with various symptoms. The three symptoms I often experienced during each migraine attack was dizziness, nausea and head pain. My Cryohelmet helped to manage my attacks which meant spending less time stuck in bed and more time doing things with my family. How could you not love a product with those wonderful capabilities?

Once I became well enough to travel long distances again, I discovered that the Catalyst™ Cyrohelmet was airport friendly. I’ve gone through several TSA checkpoints around the U.S. carrying my helmet inside the insulated bag provided by the company with no issues. I’ve even used my Cryohelmet while on the plane. It helped me to relax and experience less head pressure making the rest of the flight more bearable.

My Cryohelmet has flown from Green Bay to New Jersey, Milwaukee to Washington D.C and several times from Minneapolis to Dallas with no TSA issues

Cryohelmet came to my daughter’s rescue after she developed a terrible ear infection. This infection quickly caused her to have a high temperature that eventually skyrocketed to 103 degrees. Not only did the CryoMax™ Cold Packs inside the helmet soothe her ear pain, it lowered her temperature and kept it below 100° the rest of that night. Even our family physician was impressed at the fact the helmet was more effective than the fever-reducing medications she received.

I even began using my Cryohelmet in the 15 minutes leading up to each of my Cluster Headache attacks. I found it helped me to be in a more calmer state of mind. For anyone that has endured these horrific beasts of a headache understands you become desperate and any type of relief is welcomed.

After I learned my son developed chronic migraine, the team over at Cryohelmet shipped a helmet for him to test out. My teen noted a decrease in head pain within the first half hour. In a matter of fact, he prefers to use his Cryohelmet over his migraine abortives. There are no strange side effects with icing your head and it helps him to relax a bit more too.

My son knows the importance of self-care. Here he is resting, comfortably after football practice with his Cryohelmet

My son not only uses his Cryohelmet during a migraine attack, he wears it to cool down after football practice and games. Between lifting weights and running plays its easy for any athlete to get overheated. My teen knows the importance of icing his head and now so does his teammates.

Within the last two years, Cryohelmet has graciously donated a total of 5 helmets to my son’s middle and high school football department. Although my teen is currently the only person with the migraine disease on the team, a few of the players discovered the amazing benefits of using the Cryohelmet’s during the hotter temperature days. Just knowing my child and his team mates have a product specifically designed for head injuries on the sidelines, puts my mind a bit more at ease.

What more can I possibly say about a company that has followed my teen and I through our journey of living with migraine and cluster headaches, other than if they put that much thought into two of their customer’s well-being, then imagine how much time and effort went into the development of their line of products for potential customers.

To learn more about Catalyst Cryohelmet, visit their website at: http://www.cryohelmet.com/home/