Saturday, September 25

Narcolepsy and Marriage - When It All Falls Apart

Just a couple of years ago, I really didn't think we'd be celebrating our wedding anniversary this year.

At times I wasn't even that concerned about it. I wasn't angry or sad or spiteful... I just didn't care anymore.

In our family, wedding anniversaries are a big deal. My parents have been married for 33 years and every year, we try to celebrate the longevity of their love. After all, without it, we wouldn't be here. Well, my husband and I had been married for a few years when I thought -

I just can't do this anymore.

I felt myself giving up, but I wasn't even really sure what that meant. Did I have plans to leave him? Divorce? Take our daughter and disappear? No. Instead, I think I was planning a separation. An emotional separation that would mean we'd both live in the same house, eat at the same table, and even sometimes sleep in the same bed. 

But my heart wouldn't be in it.

Have you ever known anyone who was in a loveless marriage? I can't think of a sadder scenario. Two people who at some point in time wanted to be together more than anything. They were so in love they declared it to the world by getting married and uniting their lives. What a beautiful arrangement marriage is! Unless the love begins to die.

Fortunately, I didn't emotionally separate from my husband. Instead, I did something that I didn't want to do. I told him exactly how I felt. Without screaming or name-calling, accusing or berating, I just told him that I felt like our marriage was falling apart. Something was creating a crack in the marriage and that crack was becoming a vast chasm that was widening every day. So we talked and planned and saw a doctor, and soon, my husband was diagnosed with Narcolepsy. 

That diagnosis changed everything.

Now there was a reason for his behavior, his lethargy, his mood swings... but the hardest hurdle would now be changing my mentality. I had to start thinking about how to save my marriage and fight our common enemy. I recommitted to my husband and our relationship. It wasn't easy. I'm always reminding myself that my husband didn't ask to have this illness. He hates it more than I do. It's a battle, but it's worth it.

Our anniversary last week was the best one yet.

Tuesday, September 14

Narcolepsy and The Medication Nightmare

I think we've established that there's no cure for narcolepsy. 

There are however, several medications that are used to treat narcolepsy and it's friends. My husband has only tried a few so far, but the differences between them are astounding... and  a little scary.

Upon his initial diagnosis approximately 2 years ago, he started on Provigil. This was a drug that we'd never heard of, but then again, we didn't know a whole lot about narcolepsy either. I liked my husband on Provigil. He seemed like himself. That may sound silly, but it's the most accurate way I can put it. You see, narcolepsy often turns him into a different version of himself. He's muted and distant, like a faded photograph that you have to hold at an angle to see. It's like he's not all there - and in reality, he isn't. But with Provigil... wow, what a difference! Suddenly the photograph is in color, sharp and clear - it was great! For me, anyway. For my husband, it was just OK. The side effects included headaches and stomachaches which were quite bothersome, but went away over time. We thought we'd found a viable solution.

Then our health insurance got in the way. 

With insurance, the amount of Provigil my husband was prescribed amounted to about $400 per month. The cost was way beyond our modest budget. Just in case you didn't catch it before - that was with insurance. Suddenly, Provigil wasn't the answer anymore.

Next up, Aderrall.

Initially, it didn't seem  so bad. It kept him awake and alert and we didn't notice any side effects right away... It definitely wasn't like Provigil, but at least he was awake, right? That was when I learned that there's a lot more to treating narcolepsy than keeping a person awake. I've already gone into detail about how much I hate Aderrall, but I can never say it enough. At least it was cheap, I guess. With our insurance, it comes to about $12 a month.

Most recently, my husband was prescribed Nuvigil. He said that he felt the difference right away. Although I'll go into more detail in a different post, suffice it to say I loved him on it... but it didn't last long.The drug, I mean. The amount that he was prescribed was a free trial, and after that, we were on our own. Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover it - at all. Fortunately, we're not the only ones who can't afford it. Drug manufacturers of Nuvigil have created a prescription assistance program that will help cover the costs of the medicine. We're in the process of applying for that.

It is a nightmare, finding the right medication to treat a chronic illness. With narcolepsy, one has to be so careful. A drug that may keep you awake might also trigger attacks of cataplexy. A drug that helps with cataplexy may make the night binges worse. It's such a delicate balance...

...but so worth it.