Sunday, May 22, 2011


Morning market in NapaWhen 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.

Inside the Oxbow MarketConsequently, 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).

CoaguChek INR testerOnce 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.


  1. That's great about the home testing option. While we don't (currently) have a need for this device, it's good to know it's out there just in case.
    And I'm extremely jealous of the Market pictures! I'm on a mission to find fresh produce here in Arkansas... You wouldn't think it would be that hard...

  2. That's really great that he can do the monitoring at home. I have to have monthly B-12 shots and we have it set up so Jim can give them to me. So much easier than trying to find a nurse to do it.

  3. Laurie -- thanks so much. I would not have seen this until tomorrow, except that Carol K alerted me to this information. Thanks to you and all your readers!

  4. Is it cost effective enough where he can check it once a week if he wants to and would that be beneficial for him. sure sounds better then finding a lab once a month.

  5. What a great idea!! That should really be a help to RVer's who live on the road...Great and informative blog...

  6. The picture looks like the nurse stuck Odel's fingertip. I was taught to use the side of my fingertip for my blood glucose testing. Just as effective but much less painful.

  7. Linda, for some reason, it is REALLY, REALLY difficult to get a good (big) drop of blood out of Odel's fingers (and this with the lancet device set on DEEP). This was the FOURTH prick and test strip! Although they had tried the "side of the finger" area, by this point they just wanted BLOOD. :) In the future, he is going to soak his hand in warm water for several minutes before pricking.

  8. Great that he can do it at home now... made me say OUCH!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  9. Hi Laurie, I was very interested in this information since I am on warfarin because I have an artificial heart valve. I am not old enough for Medicare, so I called Roche to ask whether or not the device is covered by my insurance, Kaiser Permanente. Unfortunately, it is not covered. The machine costs $2500 to buy it privately, and the test strips are $96 for 6 strips. Due to the high cost, I won't be buying it any time soon.

  10. What a great convenience!

    Glad to see you both are doing well and found some nice weather.

  11. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  12. THanks so much for the detailed information.

    Are there markets every day of the week in Napa?
    That sure would be nice.


  13. Roche is contracted with many private insurance carriers and has been quite successful in getting coverage for thousands of patients who are not yet on Medicare.

    Please call 800-779-7616 for a free, no obligation insurance verification quote.

    Happy Travels!