Even though Cynthia Covert has been diagnosed with multiple chronic diseases, including psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia and endometriosis, she sees a bright future. “Health care is about being healthy,” says Covert. “It’s not about whether I have a prescription to treat chronic pain.”
A resident of Southern California, Covert’s journey with chronic disease began in 2001 after she found a small rash on her neck. “The doctor thought I was overreacting. He laughed at me because the rash was so small,” explains Covert. Three days later, the rash covered her body and Covert was diagnosed with psoriasis.
For Covert, bad weather triggered relapses with chronic pain: “Prior to moving to Southern California, we lived in Denver. Whenever there was a storm it felt like my muscles were on fire; it felt like my bones were crumbling. I had no idea what was going on.” Doctors soon diagnosed Covert with fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis.
Covert describes her experience with insurance companies as nothing short of a nightmare. “When I tried to change coverage and switch insurance companies, many refused to cover me because of my preexisting conditions,” she notes. Lyrica, which Covert took to manage pain related to fibromyalgia, went from a reasonable monthly fee of $10 to costing her $700 per month.
Covert explains, “I am still often denied coverage because I’ve chosen not to participate in fail-first practices. I’ve been told by specialists that they can’t see me because of my choice.”
With little help from insurance companies, Covert has been able to manage her pain through a variety of methods, including ultrasound therapy and patient advocacy. “It’s difficult to accept that an insurance company has control over my quality of life,” says Covert. “It’s led me to take action and direct control over my health – diet, meditation and lifestyle choices.”
Covert began to blog as a form of therapy under the pseudonym “The Disabled Diva.” She now uses her blog to help others which chronic conditions and discuss how to navigate day-to-day life: “I talk about the mundane things – how to travel with a chronic condition, how to get through each day. Sharing little life tips makes getting through the day a little more manageable.”
Covert continues, “I felt alone and blogging allowed me to meet other people. I used to be angry and depressed, and let my chronic condition control my life. I’ve since learned to let go of anger – I realized I was missing out on life. I can do everything I want, just differently.”
While Covert is managing her pain and multiple chronic conditions, medical insurance companies will continue to discriminate against patients like her by only covering fail-first methods that will save the insurance company money at the expense of a patients quality of life. The Chronic Disease Coalition will continue to advocate and fight for patients’ rights.