19 September 2016

Cost of Fighting A Ductal Yeast Infection

I am still fighting a ductal yeast infection in my breast -- candida during breastfeeding or however you say it. It's the pits. I've spent significant time and some good chunks of change on my efforts to kill the yeast. I am cautiously optimistic that this infection is nearly gone. Knock on wood and cross all your fingers! Here's a rough estimate of what I've done since early July to get here:
  • Six weeks of diflucan -- this is the actual prescription medication, and I'm lucky my insurance covers it. Apparently it was expensive as a brand name but is now available as generic flucanozole. I couldn't convince my doctor to prescribe it longer (I didn't try very hard), although the protocol says it should be continued until symptoms are gone for a full week. (I had not had a full week of symptom free when I stopped the diflucan, but I think I have now, or at least very nearly symptom-free.) 

  • All Purpose Nipple Ointment -- another one that needed to be prescribed. I had to get it at a compounding pharmacy that doesn't take insurance. It's $75, although I put in for it to be reimbursed by insurance. They sent a check for $10 without explanation. We still need to follow up on that one, but say $65.

  • Grapefruit seed extract -- I have this orally as well as topically as a liquid. I mix the liquid into water (15 drops in a half shot glass) and use a Q-tip to saturate the nipple after nursing and follow up with the APNO. Liquid cost $11. Orally I take 250 mg three times per day. On Amazon it's about $11 for 60 pills, so a 20 day supply. I've probably been taking it for 8 weeks because I started it as soon as it seemed this was likely yeast. I've definitely purchased it five times so far (counting twice at Whole Foods in 125 mg dose, so the bottle doesn't last quite as long) and am working my way through the fifth bottle. (So $55 so far.)

  • Gentian violet -- this took me a while to find because I kept thinking I would find it locally. In the end I could have ordered and received it from Amazon several times over, so I just did that ($10) and waited 2 more days. This does help, although I'm not sure how long it's OK to use. The protocol says on for 7 days then stop. If it hasn't worked in 7 days it won't. BUT it can be repeated. So I don't know. I do it, then stop and have symptoms flare and start again. It is HELLA messy and I hate it. I like purple OK but not on my poor baby's mouth. At church this week she had a big purple mustache and I had to get into my infection/medicine with more people than I would have liked (I should have agreed to others' ideas -- purple marker or a bruise). Definitely not what I had in mind when I say I want to help normalize breast feeding. (Update since I started this post - I was able to stop the gentian violet after about 3 cycles, so 21 days total using it. I've been off it for more than a week, and I know it's there to try again if symptoms flare.)

  • Probiotics - buy locally at Whole Foods and also bought some inferior ones at CVS ($11 down the tubes) - $22 x two so far. They have to be refrigerated and need to be taken separately from the Grapefruit Seed Extract (which would just kill the probiotics I think). So I don't remember to take them too often, but at least once a day before bed and sometimes in the afternoon too. I think that's a good sign that I don't remember and am getting better!

  • Vinegar for washing clothes and towels - minimal cost but for the sake of completion - $2. I wash everything of the baby's and everything that touches my breasts (bras, towels, etc.) in hot water with vinegar rinse. Acidity kills (?) the yeast, or at least inhibits its growth.

  • Paper towels to limit yeast from towels on my hands after washing and limit chances of re-infection (not entirely convinced this is necessary) - $4, estimated because we use paper towels normally. I just kept a roll in the bathroom to use with each hand wash there and have used about 4 rolls over the time I've been doing this.


  • Lactation consultation - should have been $95, although maybe insurance would have covered it. I got my consultation free because while I was waiting for a call back in the hospital waiting area I was hassled by a security guard about breast feeding and that I needed to go to their special rooms/couldn't just nurse in the lobby even covered up. I tweeted my indignation, which got the communications people's attention and I was given a personal apology and the consultation for free, which was nice. It was helpful because they were the ones who agreed that it was more likely yeast. They weren't used to seeing such big/older babies though. If nothing else it made me feel like someone in the medical system actually cared about me/my pain at that point (when my doctor was out of town).

  • Monistat 7 - before I got the APNO - $11
So adding all that up we're at $224 actually spent (not including the $95 the lactation consultation would have cost). I'd gladly throw money at this problem just to get better and it was the TIME more than anything that has been hard to deal with. I've been robbed of pleasure with my baby, and while we're still nursing and everything is great with her growth and health I am battered and beaten down from this experience. I hope I can bounce back and continue to get better until completely, truly healed. And I hope you never experience this. If you do/found this via Google please feel free to email me for empathy!

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