When I mentioned a few days ago that Odel was going to get a home testing device to check his INR (aka PT, a measurement of the blood’s ability to clot), several readers expressed interest in more information. Well, yesterday was the day of delivery, brought to our motorhome here in Napa by an RN.
The CoaguChek meter Odel received is made by Roche, and is very similar to a glucose testing meter (insert a special test strip in the meter, apply a drop of blood, and read the result). Since Odel is supposed to have his INR checked monthly, we’ve always carried a dozen or so lab slips from Odel’s primary care physician (PCP) – located in California - so that Odel could have the testing done wherever we happened to travel.
The only state where we ran into a problem was Texas, where they required the requesting physician to be a Texan! When we traveled in Mexico or Canada, Odel skipped the testing until we returned to the U.S. Visits to Mexico usually resulted in numbers “out of range” (meaning blood too thin or too thick) because of the changes in our diet during those visits – warfarin usage is strongly affected by the food you eat and the drugs or supplements you take.
Consequently, a home testing meter seemed like a perfect solution for us, and Odel pursued getting one when he became eligible for Medicare a few years ago (I had read that the devices, fairly new then, were covered by Medicare - for someone looking forward to many more years of testing, it is no doubt cheaper for Medicare to provide the test unit and supplies than to pay for lab tests.) Although our search didn’t pan out then, we found the right contact this time, thanks to a nurse who came to our motorhome to check Odel’s INR post-surgery using Roche’s CoaguChek XS.
After Odel left a message with Roche, we got a return call 5 or 6 days later, and the process proceeded quickly from there on, with good communication between Roche and Odel. Odel called his PCP and explained what he wanted, and his doctor agreed that Odel – who has been monitoring his INR for over a decade – was a good candidate for home testing. Roche contacted Odel’s PCP for a prescription, and took care of the insurance billing. Odel downloaded and printed a form that had to be completed, signed, and returned to Roche (or they can mail it to you, and you can return it via mail or fax).
Once everything was approved, we simply had to decide where we would settle long enough for the RN to deliver the unit and train Odel on its use, a process that took about two hours. Together, Nurse Liz and Odel tested his blood; on Monday, he will phone Roche with the results - which they pass along to Odel’s PCP – and set up an online account so he can report results via computer. Testing strips can be ordered by phone or online.
If you are interested in a meter for yourself, here is the link to the Roche CoaguChek website and the number Odel called to get started: 1-800-779-7616. I don’t know if private insurance covers the CoaguChek, but I’m sure Roche knows.
The other photos on today’s blog are scenes from our morning explorations of the Napa Farmer’s Market and the Oxbow Market yesterday morning.