I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly 23 years ago, and I have recently noticed I am experiencing more than the usual problems with gait and balance. I discussed it with my neurologist — an MS specialist, and she recommended changing my disease-modifying drug from Aubagio, an immune-modifying medication, to Ocrevus, an immune suppressant. In addition, I am working with a physical therapist to improve my gait and balance as much as possible in the meantime.
The physical therapy is helping. I was using a walker earlier this year, but I am back to using a cane, with some additional support from my husband on bad days. I am working to improve my hip strength. My gait and balance are a little better, but I still feel wobbly some days. Having also been diagnosed with osteoporosis, I fear I might fall and break a bone.
In the meantime, my transition to Ocrevus is taking longer than I hoped. The first delay was related to the Covid pandemic. My neurologist recommended that I get my Covid vaccines at least a month before I started Ocrevus. So I got the Moderna vaccine in February and March, and I notified my doctor that I had done that.
The second delay happened in April, when I had the blood work required to change my disease-modifying drug to Ocrevus. The blood work showed that my immune system was low. My doctor prescribed monthly intravenous immunoglobulin infusions to strengthen my immune system before I started taking Ocrevus.
Here is where this story gets complicated. You see, I have medical insurance as a retiree benefit. The company I worked for changed my medical insurance plan to a different plan as of January 1st of this year. My medical insurance is now a Anthem Medicare plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The plan requires prior approval for many medications, including the immunoglobulin infusions that my neurologist prescribed. My neurologist applied for prior approval for the immunoglobulin infusions, but the insurance company denied that approval in May, which caused a third delay. With the support of my neurologist, I called Anthem and explained my situation. Long story short, the denial was appealed and reversed, and I received approval for to begin monthly immunoglobulin infusion.
I received my first infusion in June and a second in July. I am scheduled for a third infusion this month. After that, I will have more blood work to determine if my immune system is strong enough to start on Ocrevus. So, the best-case scenario — if there are no further delays — is that I will have my first Ocrevus infusion in September. Fingers crossed.