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purplesoccershoe

J's (Extremely Involved and Complicated) Journey With Accutane

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all right, well, after MONTHS of working out the sucky details (and years of deciding to go on this medication from hell again) i took my first dose tonight. i'm starting out at 80 mg/day (40 mg/twice a day) which kind of scares me since it seems to be so much more than what everyone else starts on. but, it's what my doctor prescribed, and she knows my whole frustrating history, so here we go.

i went on accutane the first time when i was 15. at the time, they told me that one round of the stuff cured most people for life, but that mine was so bad i'd probably have to go through another round in the future. not thrilling news, but i didn't have much of a choice, so i started it. the experience was rather hellish (the whole thing about all of your skin drying out and peeling off was right up my alley) and i hate to look at pictures of myself from that time, but it was worth it in the end... my skin was great for a little over five years, which made the end of high school and most of college much more enjoyable. by the time i got out of college, though, things were starting to go back downhilll again. i'd been through some bad times in college, and was seeing a therapist and taking antidepressants, so my new dermatologist didn't want to put me on accutane because of all the new reports about people becoming suicidal and all that great stuff. i agreed, and went through the whole ordeal with tetracycline, doxycyline, duac, retin-a, etc. etc. etc. all over again. nothing worked (of course), and the only effect i saw was that the duac bleached my pillowcases.

by this time, however, i was going through a very, VERY bad breakup with my girlfriend. i started taking the antidepressants in full force again, putting me even further away from being able to start accutane... and in addition to fighting with her over the house we had bought together, i was being kicked off of her health insurance (since i had been registered with her under the domestic partner benefits being offered by her employer). while her insurance would have covered the accutane treatment, the only other insurance option i had was through my law school's student insurance, which plainly stated that it did not cover any form of acne treatment. brilliant.

fast forward one year later. i've recovered enough from the breakup to feel emotionally confident about taking a drug with a whole page of warnings about suicide on the box, and my therapist is willing to vouch for my sanity and my dermatologist is willing to take her approval. i'm finishing my last year of law school (about to graduate in may! whoo hooo!!!!) and moving to washington d.c. (from atlanta) to start my first job in september. remembering all of the face-peeling and lips cracking from before, i reeeeeally want to get this whole ordeal over with before i'm tossed into a new city where i must build my professional career, make new friends, and - god forbid! - hope to DATE someone in this century. i also want to get it done while i still have a dermatologist who will prescribe it for me despite past depression, and a therapist who will vouch for me (and be there for me in the event that i actually DO get depressed). also, once i graduate from school in may, i will spend about three months just studying for the georgia bar exam - which means a lot of time in a classroom with kids with whom i have already spent three years at my worst (and their worst!) and a lot more time sitting around in my pajamas studying. basically, no major issues if my entire face decides to peel off again. one small problem - i'm on the most pathetic excuse for student health insurance ever.

i wait THREE MONTHS for my first dermatologist appointment since i got on this crappy new insurance (i'd stopped going since the visits weren't covered and the doxycyline wasn't working anyway). i go in for my first consultation, set up the whole ipledge junk (which she tells me she WOULD NOT do if i hadn't been one of her patients for a long time because it's such a pain in the ass) and take my first blood tests and pregnancy tests.

please allow me to go on a short rant about these pregnancy tests. I'M A LESBIAN!!!! ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE! I AM 26 YEARS OLD, AND IF I HAVE NOT SLEPT WITH A MAN YET, I'LL BE DAMNED IF I DO WHILE I'M ON THIS HORRENDOUS MEDICATION THAT CAUSES YOU TO GIVE BIRTH TO BABY CONEHEADS! on top of the obvious unfairness of being required to pee in a cup for no apparent reason, I DON'T HAVE $50 A MONTH TO SPEND ON FREAKING UNNECCESSARY PREGNANCY TESTS!!! cause these just can't be regular pregnancy tests... no... these have to be LABORATORY URINALYSIS PREGNANCY TESTS! THAT COST $50!!! DID I MENTION THAT I DON'T HAVE $50?!?!?!?

okay, so i'm f***ing irritated that i have to take the test, PAY for it, and WAIT a freaking month to take ANOTHER one so that THEN i can FINALLY get my f***ing prescription. but, since i appear to have no choice, that's what i do. my pregnancy tests come out negative (SHOCKER!!!) and the nurse asks me what forms of birth control i'll be using. i flip helplessly through the retarded ipledge booklet and say, "i don't know, i'm just making this up, let me pick something..." she hastily leaves and gets the doctor, who comes back in with the nurse and grins at me, and i explain to the nurse that i am a lesbian and have never used birth control in my LIFE, and don't know ANYTHING about it. i am tempted to tell her to put "partner's vasectomy" as my first form of birth control. (hey, makes sense, right??? "partner is incapable of producing sperm...") as my doctor is flipping through the ipledge website, i am relieved to see that you can actually select "abstinence" as a form of birth control. abstinence and "condoms" it is. i have a prescription.

i ponder where to go to attempt to get this prescription filled as cheaply as possible. i call every drug store on the ipledge list to get price quotes. one of my friends has a roommate who doesn't have insurance (she's a stripper... heh...) who told her that she snuck into costco every month to get her prescription filled. costco does seem to have the cheapest. while i'm pondering all of this, something frightening happens: i get the bills from the first doctor's visit. $85 for the visit. $250 for the bloodwork. $50 for the pregnancy test. and i've already had a *second* visit and pregnancy test. i nearly pass out. my doctor indicated that she thought my insurance should at least cover the blood tests, but i'm beginning to feel very doubtful. they are, after all, "incident to" acne treatment. (am i a law student or what?) i already know for sure that the insurance won't cover the accutane, the generic of which i've placed at around $150 at costco. this puts the whole treatment at nearly $500 a month. i start to panic.

while i was calling all of the pharmacies, however, i noticed that one was in the local public hospital. when i called there for a price, they said that price was determined on income, and that i'd have to come in and get a hospital low income card to get the discount and get my prescription filled there. this sounds somewhat promising, however, as you all know, i'm left with SEVEN DAYS to fill my prescription before it expires and i'm locked out of F***ING ipledge!! i've already lost a few days trying to figure out this mess. after weighing all of the options (ESPECIALLY the fact that i'm a poor student who has to live on THIS SPRING'S student loans until SEPTEMBER when i start working since i'll be studying for the bar all summer), i decide that i have no choice but to get the prescription filled or face starting over... possibly when i'm in a city where i don't have a therapist to attest to my sanity in the face of a history of depression/anxiety issues. i sneak into costco.

i'll spare you the details there (or rather, i'd rather not divulge them!) BUT, contrary to what i expected, the prescription rings up to a whopping $258. i again nearly hit the floor, and begin to feel light-headed as i sign the receipt. turns out that when i called the stores, they gave me a price quote for what an "average" person takes. since my prescription is DOUBLE that of an "average" person's, my cost is... double. i FREAK OUT. there's no way i can afford this! this is nearly $600 a month! for six months of treatment, that's over $3,500. panic panic panic. i call my AAA office to see if i can get the AAA prescription discount card (possibly). i call the drug companies to see if they have patient assistance programs (they don't). i call my insurance company to see if they've covered my claims (they haven't). i check out canadian pharmacies online (their claravis costs the same as mine did! WTF?!?!?!?) i check my bank records to see who owes me money. panic panic panic.

the next day, i hightail it over to the public hospital. i wait two hours in the discount card office. i have to leave for class and they still haven't called my name. i leave. i come back later that day. i wait two more hours, just to get in there for the woman to tell me that i don't have all the paperwork i need. i leave. i come back two days later when i can finally get out of class. i wait two more hours. i'm just about to have to leave when some nice guy in the waiting room helps me talk the guy at the counter into seeing me sooner. i fork over my financial aid papers. i get my discount card. my copay for doctor's visits is $3. for lab tests, $3. for prescriptions, $2!!! i'm skipping, i'm so relieved. it seems too good to be true. i don't believe it. i try to call the pharmacy to make sure that this covers claravis. they won't talk to me over the phone and tell me i have to come wait at the pharmacy. i go take a number. i sit for THREE HOURS in an AUDITORIUM with HUNDREDS of other people waiting for their prescriptions. finally, i get to go ASK THE QUESTION of whether this covers accutane. it does! now all i need is a prescription from a doctor from THAT HOSPITAL. brilliant. square one. i go up to the dermatology department to see what i can do. they're closed on fridays. awesome. i wait all weekend and go back today. there are a million screaming little kids in the waiting room (it's pediatric dermatology day!) and they tell me to call back later. i call back later, and after being transferred four times, i get an appointment for this thursday. well at least they do SOMETHING fast around here!!!

so here's today. i have an appointment at the public clinic in three days. now all i have to do is convince them to take me on and convince my old dermatologist to transfer me to them. i hope that since i've already started the treatment, they'll spare me all the preliminaries and pick up where i've left off. but that means i actually have to START the treatment. that box was so freaking expensive that it's been sitting there on my shelf looking at me for over a week. i've been too afraid to touch it, operating under the delusion that i can perhaps return it if my insurance doesn't cover my claims, i can't get an AAA prescription discount, and i'm rejected by the public clinic or refused to be transferred by my old dermatologist. i'm terrified to start something i can't afford if it would be better to suck up the costs i've already expended and start over later with insurance that covers everything for sure. but i've already come this far. everything seems to be in line. i want to get this freaking thing OVER with.

i take the first pill.

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Day Two

Went to CVS and stocked up on Carmex, Vitamin E, and Oil of Olay Extra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter, all per my dermatologist's recommendations. I've been through the Carmex and Lip Medex before, so no surprise there. My dermatologist recommended that I start taking Vitamin E, though, which is the stuff that they put in lotions, etc. Sounds like a good idea to me, though she told me to take 800 IU twice a day... and I read on the little info sheet in Costco that up to 1000 IU of synthetic Vitamin E or 1500 IU of natural Vitamin E is safe per day. My doctor has me taking 1600 IU per day (no idea whether it's synthetic or what). That, in addition to the already-high dose of 80 mg/day of Accutane has me somewhat worried... oh joy.

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Day Three

four pills in, and i haven't died yet. i feel like i'm ingesting toxic chemicals every time i take one, considering the roadblocks i had to get around to get them! oh well, as scary as that is, it's a relief to be TAKING them, instead of just staring at the box on my shelf... the skin on my face feels so raw after all of the treatments i've tried... i can't wait to get this over with.

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Man, what trouble you had to go thru!

I'm sorry, insurance can suck major sometimes.

So far I'm lucky. I'm paying $25 each office visit & $25 month for my perscription.

I haven't gotten any bills yet for bloodwork or anything. *crossing fingers*

Anyways, good luck to you! I hope this round clears you up for good and congrats on almost finishing school! This is going to be a good year for you!

Also I'm 25, starting at the same dose and today is my 5th day so I'm not too far ahead of you, feel free to drop by! :D

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Man, what trouble you had to go thru!

I'm sorry, insurance can suck major sometimes.

So far I'm lucky. I'm paying $25 each office visit & $25 month for my perscription.

I haven't gotten any bills yet for bloodwork or anything. *crossing fingers*

Anyways, good luck to you! I hope this round clears you up for good and congrats on almost finishing school! This is going to be a good year for you!

Also I'm 25, starting at the same dose and today is my 5th day so I'm not too far ahead of you, feel free to drop by! :D

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Day Four

well, four days in, both good news and bad news.

bad news: my face feels like it's on FIRE. all day i've felt as if i had a bad sunburn on my face (and sort of even look like it) even though i haven't been out in the sun. my skin feels hot and itchy even though i put on moisturizer like three times. plus, instead of making my skin feel relieved, the moisturizer sort of makes my skin sting. uggghhhh!!! noooot gooood....

good news: i went to the public clinic at the local hospital, and i'm going to be able to be a patient there!!! WOO HOO!!! all of my freakin annoying work has paid off... this is going to cost me about $8 a month instead of about $600!!! there could NOT be better news right about now, DESPITE the stinging sensations. other benefits of this include the fact that the public clinic is RIGHT nearby where i live (where the private one i'd been going to was about 15 minutes away, i could NEVER find a parking spot in their 7 story parking garage, and parking cost $5) and the fact that MY DERMATOLOGIST ACTUALLY WORKS AT *THIS* CLINIC HALF THE WEEK! oh my god, that's just too much! i'm going to be on the same meds seeing the same doctor for about 0.50% of the cost!!!

this is *SUCH* a relief. thank god.

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Day Five

ugh... well, my skin still feels like it's on fire. just about everything stings! my dermatologist was talking about putting vaseline all over my face and lips (been there, done that) and up my NOSTRILS! well, i was so not about that... however, my nose started peeling today (awesomeness for sure) and i'm reeeeally hoping i won't have to resort to that. so far i'm working with the thickest aveeno moisturizer i have.

in addition to all of that, the skin on my arms and legs has started to feel all itchy and tingly... not good AT ALL. time to whip out the ultra super moisturizing body wash. i also really hope that this does not make shaving completely impossible for the next few months, as that would be horrendous.

ugh.

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Day Six

WOO HOO! ten pills down and only... 350 to go. :shifty: well, it's a start.

everything's stopped feeling like it's on fire, at least for the moment. yay. everything has also started peeling a little, however, wheee. i suppose i'll take the peeling over the pain. also, unfortunately, my bottom lip has split slightly. don't know if it's because of the medication or what, but herein begins my life with chapstick...

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Day Eight

ONE WEEK DOWN! woo hoo. that's exciting.

the rest of the day, not too exciting. the news about virginia tech is devastating. :(

also, my brother's kitten is going through heart failure, and my brother is devastated. he's had the cat for about a year, and they absolutely adore each other. it's very, very sad and i feel so bad for him. i'm sure all of you cat lovers out there know what i mean. keep him in your prayers...

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Hey! Great to see that you are saving a lot of money on your treatment now. I'm only a few days ahead of you... but I'm starting at a much lower dose... I see my doc tomorrow to possibly raise my dose. Anyway, I hope all goes well for you.. and all the best with your future endeavors :)

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Hey stay happy,

I thought u were exaggerating the problem at first but you have been through sooo much i completely agree with everything you said in ur first post.

I hope so much that ur accutane treatment works fantastically well and that ur side effects will be minimal.

GOOD LUCK

xxxx

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Hey stay happy,

I thought u were exaggerating the problem at first but you have been through sooo much i completely agree with everything you said in ur first post.

I hope so much that ur accutane treatment works fantastically well and that ur side effects will be minimal.

GOOD LUCK

xxxx

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Hey! Great to see that you are saving a lot of money on your treatment now. I'm only a few days ahead of you... but I'm starting at a much lower dose... I see my doc tomorrow to possibly raise my dose. Anyway, I hope all goes well for you.. and all the best with your future endeavors :)
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Wow!!! That is awesome about the clinic that you found. I am also freaking out, because eventhough I have insurance. I am having to pay $40/month for the visit and $60/month for the script. It seems outrageous. I went to Walgreens to get my script filled and they gave me the generic form called Amnesteem. My reciept said my insurance saved my 499.00!!! I was like oh my god!!!! :shifty: How could a generic form of this stuff be almost $560.00? I guess if it works than the $100/month I am dishing out is worth it. What do you think? I wish I could do something to lower the cost!

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Wow!!! That is awesome about the clinic that you found. I am also freaking out, because eventhough I have insurance. I am having to pay $40/month for the visit and $60/month for the script. It seems outrageous. I went to Walgreens to get my script filled and they gave me the generic form called Amnesteem. My reciept said my insurance saved my 499.00!!! I was like oh my god!!!! :shifty: How could a generic form of this stuff be almost $560.00? I guess if it works than the $100/month I am dishing out is worth it. What do you think? I wish I could do something to lower the cost!
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Hey! Just make sure you don't take the Zinc at the same time as the Accutane. They both need the liver to get broken down.

Good luck!

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Day Ten

well, like i said, went back to costco yesterday to see if they could use my AAA prescription card to take any of the cost off of the $258 i had to pay for my first month's prescription. i'm at a dead end there. i think i'm going to be stuck eating the cost. oh well... averaged out over 6 months i guess it's not that bad. my insurance STILL hasn't approved or denied my doctor's visits/blood tests. if they don't, that's another $500 or so i'm going to have to fork over. they said i could file for charity assistance when i get the bill, so if my insurance does turn it down, i guess i'll give that a go.

in other news, everything is peeling! it's not too bad, it's just the little flaky peeling like you get when you sunburn... but NOTHING stops it! the more you try to remove the dead skin, the more there is! don't even think of scratching your face! even moisturizer doesn't really help, and putting on foundation just accentuates the problem. oh well. could be worse.

also, my lips are starting to get really chapped, but i've been applying chapstick/carmex constantly for the last four days... i've heard that that stuff can be addictive to your lips, and that it can actually make your lips MORE dry and chapped over the long term? has anyone else had experiences with this??

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Day Thirteen

ah, lucky thirteen. almost two weeks done with this stuff and i'm still breaking out. alas. oh well, only five and a half months to go, it's got to be better by then!

my lips are sooo chapped. i basically can't go without chapstick at all. eating is getting to be somewhat of a problem because by the time i've finished eating, i've wiped off most of the chapstick and it is starting to be painful to open my mouth. however, in my opinion, eating with chapstick on (or lipstick, or whatever) is just gross.

also, all of the skin on my face is still flaking off. there's really just nothing to be done about it, except to moisturize as often as possible. i want to use the exfoliating scrub/cloths i have in the worst way, but somehow i think that would be a bad idea. weirdness, though, is that the skin on the inside of my ears is starting to peel. there's REALLY nothing that can be done about that, exfoliating, moisturizing, or otherwise... and it's just gross. i somehow don't recall my earlobes peeling the last time i did this. so weird. :think:

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Day Twenty-Four

Had my month 2 dermatologist appointment the other day - joy! It really WAS quite a relief to go knowing that my co-pay was only going to be $3, though, AND there was the fact that i even saw my own dermatologist! thank god SOMETHING finally worked out. now i just have to figure out how the hell to fill my prescription in the next three days so i don't get booted out of the whole retarded ipledge system. this is somewhat difficult since i have a final tomorrow, and a whole bunch of other stuff planned for friday and saturday... and it's not like i'm just going to be able to drop the damn prescription off and come back and pick it up later... noooo... i'm going to have to wait in that fricking auditorium for three hours like i did last time. needless to say, i'm not too thrilled about that, but i keep telling myself i'm saving over $250. worth it.

as for everything else, well, still broken out... skin is still flaking off (though i'm hoping it might take all the scars with it and just leave nice skin behind... i wish...) and my lips are still pretty chapped, but okay if i have chapstick with me all the time. the corners of my mouth are still splitting, but again, not as bad with the chapstick... and my doctor prescribed some hydrocortisone cream for me (god, i hope that doesn't make my wait at the pharmacy twice as long...) so i hope that helps. i also managed to get a little too much sun on my arms... i didn't burn at all, but my arms are still completely peeling. very weird, and i didn't even notice it until i put my hands up to the steering wheel to drive and was like, oh god!

in the meantime, i'm supposed to be taking my graduation portraits, and i really don't want to... i'm wondering if wal-mart airbrushes your pictures for you. hmmm.

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You are such a trooper. What a stressful life you have. You go girl. I am not sure I could keep up with you. haha Is you r face any better though after two months? I just finished a month.

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You are such a trooper. What a stressful life you have. You go girl. I am not sure I could keep up with you. haha Is you r face any better though after two months? I just finished a month.
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