Getting Back in the Game
Mike has always been up for a challenge, which explains why he’s so passionate about his golf game.
“It’s fun to try to control this little inch-and-a-half golf ball into a little bitty hole from a long ways away. It’s challenging. I love it.”
He began golfing in his 20s with the encouragement of some buddies and a set of clubs from a garage sale. He spent the next decade playing whenever he could, straightening his drives and perfecting his short game. But things gradually became difficult.
His back and neck were stiff and sore. When he woke up, he could barely sit up in bed. It would take him several hours each morning to work out the stiffness enough to function normally.
Mike, who loved to tend his 3-acre property, wasn’t concerned. He attributed his soreness to bad sleeping habits. He and his wife tried multiple beds and mattresses, but his condition got worse. Working as a carpenter became painful. At intersections, he would rotate his entire torso to check for traffic because it was too painful to turn his head.
It wasn’t until his mid-40s that Mike got a diagnosis. At the end of a routine check-up, his doctor asked a simple question: “How do you feel?”
“I spilled my guts. … ‘Well, my neck and back are killing me. I can’t really get out of bed in the morning. I literally have to roll over and put my feet on the ground, try to push up with my arms. My back and neck are stiff, and it takes an hour or two of movement around just to get loosened up enough to function well.’”
After a quick blood test, Mike was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. The diagnosis came as a relief. His problem had a name, which meant he could focus on treatment.
Mike set off to find an effective therapy. For nearly a year, he cycled through pill-based treatments, but nothing provided significant relief. Finally, his doctor prescribed a specialty medication and Mike began self-injecting his treatments. Within two weeks, Mike’s life changed. His pain was virtually nonexistent. His range of movement began to return, and he was able to perform simple tasks that had been tremendously difficult for years.
“When I got up in the morning, I’d actually sit up in bed. I just look at [my wife] and say, ‘I can sit up.’ It was crazy. I hadn’t been able to do that for two decades.”
At the beginning of his treatment journey, he tried a number of different pharmacies. He said it was difficult to get his prescription refilled and to make phone calls to ensure his next dose would arrive on time. He felt the pharmacies did not care about him.
Then he was switched to Diplomat.
“That was incredible. I could not believe the difference that Diplomat made in my life. They made it easy. They call me when it is time to refill. They package my injections on ice because they have to be cold. They deliver them when they say they do. They generally care about how I feel. It is really a joy just to know I don’t have to worry about getting my special drug.”
His prescriptions cost about $30,000 annually, but Diplomat’s help finding funding assistance lowered his copay to $10 every three months.
For nearly 20 years, Mike was unable to golf. But then he bought himself a new set of clubs and a new driver. He was back on the green—enjoying the challenge more than ever.