The Kindness of Strangers
If we just had our rent and utilities alone, we'd squeak by on my unemployment benefits and Ed's paycheck. Alas, we have Gameboy's medications to purchase each month. His Medicaid got canceled a while back, due to me listening to my boss that I should keep group health coverage on him, along with the Medicaid. I'm here to tell you DON'T DO IT! Alas, when a child receives Medicaid, you don't get an instruction manual, telling you what you can and cannot do. That's why I didn't know you couldn't have both or that you need to file a change of address, even if you move within the state.
So, since April, we've been without insurance coverage. For Ed and Chef, it's not a big deal. For me, it's tough, but manageable. For Gameboy, this is a nightmare. He takes some expensive meds. Even when one makes a good salary, they eat up a chunk of the income if you don't have group health insurance. Unfortunately, neither one of us is earning a decent wage these days.
His psychiatrist has been a doll, giving samples of either the Strattera or the Abilify where she can. Strattera costs about $300 a month, Abilify much more. (Last we'd filled it, it was $620 a month). The Fluvoximine and Clonidine are relatively cheap in comparison, $100 bucks to fill both.
Thanks to a friend online, I found out about Canada Generic, and was able to score generic Strattera for $100 bucks for a 50 day supply, far better than the $300 or so for the name brand for a one month prescription. It'd be good if Abilify was available in this manner, but it's not.
When we saw his doctor in December, all she had in the sample closet was enough for 4 weeks, but our visit was scheduled for six weeks. We have a deal where I call her when he's running out, and she makes sure there's a bag waiting for us. I make the drive over and everything is copacetic.
Alas, I made the call this time around and never heard back from her. Dr. N has discussed taking him off the Abilify several times, so part of me wondered if this was her plan and she hadn't had a chance to call. However, he DOES need this medication. Dr. N had never seen Gameboy without it, because he started it about a year before she became the resident assigned to him.
So, a few weeks ago, he ran out. I held my breath, because I knew that we'd have trouble. How long would it take before things fell apart at school?
The answer? Two days. Forty eight hours without the medication and the school got a taste of what we lived with for so long. He wanted computer time, was told no, went to the computers anyway and when he was removed, the temper tantrum was so loud that it could be heard four classrooms away, through cinder block walls.
He earned a one day suspension from school for his behavior. However, someone called my cell phone at 11am, it didn't ring and they didn't leave a message. At 4:55, my phone rang while I was in the midst of a coughing fit, so I let it go to voice mail. I listened to the message, immediately called back-and was told that the person had already left for the day. To say I was pissed is an understatement. You knew my child was suspended, but you wait until you're walking out the door to call me?
The next morning, I went over to the school, spitting nails, ready to do battle with the person who couldn't find the time in his day to call me between 11am, when the incident occurred and 4:55pm. Mr. S, the one who'd left the message, was out of the building for the day. The school secretary then got Mr. B to come talk to me.
In the interests of talking privately, Mr. B ushered me into the conference room. The school psychologist, Mr. N was in there. He covers a couple of schools and doesn't have an office, so if there's a free seat, he's got to grab it. When we entered the room, Mr. N offered to leave. However, he'd facilitated Gameboy's last IEP, knows my son and honestly, I figure the more people who know the deal, the better it is for Gameboy.
I asked Mr. B what had happened and why I didn't hear from the school until late in the day. I was told that Mr. S had called me several times, but I was able to show them my cell phone and there was the one message and the one missed call at 11:00am. Then I explained: we are beyond tight on money, we can't afford the $600 a month Abilify and we're waiting for his doctor to call us back AND to hear from Lilly, the manufacturer, whether he's eligible for a Patient Assistance Program.
This is where the strangers come in. Mr. N asked to interrupt. He explains that has access to several grant programs and was pretty sure that our financial situation made us eligible for one. It's a private program. He asked if he could email the board a brief description and get back to me. I agreed, hopeful that he was right and we would qualify.
The next day, Mr. N called and asked Ed and I to come up to the school. He'd just received an email back that we certainly qualified, but he needed us to come and fill out the application. The three of us filled out the forms and he submitted the request for this agency to cover one month's supply of Abilify to get Gameboy through until his next doctor's visit and the wait to get Medicaid and/or Patient Assistance.
Last Tuesday, he called me back. The grant had been approved. Due to privacy, the funds would be dispersed to Mr. N and he'd call me as soon as he had it in hand.
Today, I got the phone call and went up to the school. Mr. N sat me down and said he had some news. "There's a little more in that envelope that we requested." It ends up that the board was concerned that a month might not be enough, so they sent enough to cover two months.
I am blown away. Honestly, I was trying to figure out how in the next ten days I was going to pay rent, car insurance and cover refills of Gameboy's Strattera, Fluvoxime and Clonidine.
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, Gameboy won't go without medication. I don't know how they knew that all the medications would be a challenge this month, but they must have.