psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatments

8 Weeks with Tremfya: It’s Working!

The high temperatures are still in the 80s here in the Sacramento area, and I can wear shorts! My lower legs began clearing from psoriasis a few weeks after starting Tremfya.

On Monday I hit the eight-week mark on Tremfya (guselkumab), Janssen’s new biologic indicated for plaque psoriasis. Over the weekend, it felt like the remaining psoriasis started melting away as lesions flattened, looked less red, and even disappeared. Some psoriasis persists, primarily on those stubborn spots on my trunk/back. But, hey, I’m not complaining.

I’m excited about the response, but remain cautiously optimistic. I thought with this kind of response I might be jumping up and down. But Lori and I agreed that we’d like to see continued progress as we’ve had our hopes dashed so many times in the past.

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I’m excited about the response, but remain cautiously optimistic. I thought with this kind of response I might be jumping up and down.

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Maybe I’m in shock that I can’t bring myself to believe a medication might effectively treat my psoriasis apart from cyclosporine. The journey with Tremfya is only the most recent leg in a lifelong journey to find that magic bullet of a treatment to relieve me of psoriasis lesions.

I also feel less euphoric with my atopic dermatitis continuing to break out, though nothing like it did with a previous biologic. I do need to watch my diet as what I eat is a key eczema trigger for me. All the wonderful apple pastries (fritters, pies, and donuts), and fresh cider, while tasting so yummy, seem to have contributed to the recent rashes.

Still, even with some continued challenges and doubts, I’m amazed at the progress. These photos don’t lie–I’m grateful for the improvement from July to October:

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Photo from 7/18/17 entering my 3rd month on Otezla.
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Photo from 10/3/17 after 8 weeks on Tremfya

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Follow my Tremfya journey

Tremfya (Guselkumab) Week One

3 Weeks with Tremfya: The Waiting Game

5 Weeks with Tremfya: Biggest Fear?

6 Weeks with Tremfya: Redefining Expectations

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Will Insurance Continue to Cover Tremfya?

The issue now is whether my employer based insurance provider will continue to cover Tremfya. I need to move to a new medical provider network as the UC Davis Health System and Western Health Advantage contract agreement expires at the end of the year.

I visited my new primary care provider a couple weeks ago. He told me that he could try to refer me to my UC Davis dermatologist, but most likely the provider will deny it since the referral is out of network. I’m disappointed since the health insurance member service agent told me that seeing my specialist at UC Davis Health would be a simple referral. I never enjoy the run around.

Next, I assumed that with the new in-network dermatologist I could continue Tremfya since insurance already approved it for me and it’s working. However, the medical assistant told me that each medical provider network’s agreement with the insurance provider differs.

My blood pressure seriously went through the roof during that clinic visit. Dealing with insurance can upset even the most patient person (which I am not).

In four weeks I need to take the third Tremfya injection. I have some time to resolve this confusing and infuriating situation, but I hope someone gets back to me sooner than later. The back-up plan to see if the manufacturer might provide it directly no doubt takes some time too.

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Verse of the Week

Jesus Heals a Leper (Mark 1:40-42)

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

This passage where Jesus heals a leper quickly became one of my favorites. Leprosy in the Bible is not the leprosy we think of today, Hansen’s disease. In biblical references leprosy refers to all kinds of skin conditions. Most likely leprosy included psoriasis.

Jesus touches this leper, an untouchable. That touch reminded me of how God does not recoil at my psoriasis, and can heal it if willing.