First appointment at the Fibro and Fatigue Center of Atlanta

A lot of people have expressed interest in learning more about the FFC and what they do there when they found out I was going to go there, and it hasn't been easy for me to find first hand accounts or unbiased reviews of the Centers (one exception: Fibromyalgia Diaries on Kitten's Scratching Post), so maybe my postings on this subject can save some of you some time in that respect. Here's all the scoop on my first appointment.

I did a lot of research before deciding to go to the FFC, but I haven't posted on that yet because I've been sick...

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease in August. Yeah, just what I need, one more diagnosis. Anyhoo, there seems to be some kind of connection between FM and Hashimoto's - more on that to come, I'm sure, but this new diagnosis is one of the reasons I decided to bite the bullet and go to the FFC now - that and the new package price program described below.

I'm just getting over the second in as many weeks, of bouts with flu-ish symptoms of fever, chills, nausea, headache, and extreme fatigue. In between these two bouts, on September 30, I had my first appointment at the FFC.



I have to travel for three hours to get to the closest center, which is the FFC of Atlanta.


Coming into Atlanta: We have to go all the way through the city to the northern suburb of Kennesaw.







We stayed at a hotel that was recommended by the FFC (and got a pretty good discount for mentioning the FFC), the Hilton Garden Inn. The hotel was OK, but since I never had the time or energy to use the hot tub or heated pool, I think we will stay at a less expensive hotel for my next appointment, next month.

RE: The costs - One of the main reasons I am going to try the FFC now is that they are offering a new "Comprehensive Care Program (CCP)". It's still expensive. They don't actually tell you the costs at the website. You have to call them up and ask them to email you a copy, which I did. Here's the scoop:

PAYMENT:

First we have the pay as you go program. The first two appointments are one hour with our medical team and cost $ 390 each and your follow up appointments are half hour with our medical team and cost $199. In order to get back your quality of life back you can expect to have about 10 appointments the first year. Supplements can run about $150-$300 or more a month, depending what is prescribed by your physician or nurse practitioner. Injection therapy runs $35-$110 each and IV’s are $125-$145 each. You can expect to be in the center for about 2 to 4 hours depending on any treatment you may receive.

We also offer an individualized program for patients like yourself who live too far to come into our centers for the appointments. You would have to come in for your first appointment and then your appointments would be by phone for up to a year. This 12 month program allows you to have the best outcome possible. You will have a team of medical personnel dedicated to your care. As a patient in this program you will get priority booking for all your appointments. This means the wait time will be reduced for you to get in and meet with our clinical team.

Because you would be an out of town patient you may not be able to take advantage of the IV therapies so you would take advantage of our immunoglobulin injections in the center and energy injections at home. We show you how to give them to yourself so you can administer them at home.

You will receive with the Out of Town Program:

• Three (3) one hour appointments with the medical team.

• Seven (7) follow up appointments. Time between these appointments will vary depending upon the physician findings.

• Up to 72 Ultraceutical supplements.

• Up to 12 immunoglobulin injections

• 2 Kits of energy injections.

The cost for this program is $6000. Now if you were to pay for these services and products separately it would be over $8600.

First you can pay in full at your first appointment with a check or your own credit card. If you would like to finance it we have partnered with Care Credit. Care Credit is a company that offers credit for medical purposes only. They are offering our patients 12 months at no interest so your payment would be $500 a month. They also offer a 24 months payment plan at 11.9% so your payments will be approximately $300 a month. You can go to their website www.carecredit.com or call their toll free number 1-800-839-907 and they will let you know in about 10 minutes.
This Comprehensive Care Plan doesn't cover the initial vials of blood drawn. For me: count 'em, nine large ones and four small ones, and that wasn't near as many as they usually draw on the first visit because they were able to use a lot of the test results from the blood work my rheumatologist just did in July.


I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, a.k.a. hypothyroidism or under active thyroid, as a result of the blood work by my rheumy in July. Which by the way he would not have done the test that showed I have Hashimoto's disease at all if I had not gone in there with my printout from Dr. Teitelbaum's Online Treatment Program Lab Requisition Form in my hand and ASKED FOR IT MYSELF. I am trying not to dwell on the possibility that I have had this problem since I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 19 years ago... a lot of the symptoms are the same and Hashimoto's can be controlled with prescription medicine. More on that later, I'm sure.

Back to the blood work. I'll get the results next month. Click here for a copy of the receipt showing the tests they are running. I have to say Dr. Cuddapah (pronounced Cud-a pa) was very agreeable about my financial situation, explaining the costs to me and asking me each step of the way what I could afford. That didn't make it any cheaper, but at least he was conscious of the fact that I don't have insurance and would be paying for all out of pocket... He also used some of the tests that were just run on me by my local rheumatologist (see previous paragraph).

So, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me just tell you how the appointment went. I arrived about a half hour early. That was fine, and the office staff seemed eager to get my completed 25 page Questionnaire. I barely had time to sit down before they called me back to an exam room. This room had an exam table, of course, and it also had a large round glass table, like a kitchen table, with three chairs around it. Which was good because I had my mom with me to be my second pair of ears and eyes, so we all had a place to sit. And it was comfortable. Like sitting around the kitchen table, discussing. Dr. Cuddapah went through the Questionnaire page by page, asking me questions as he went along. He also looked at the previous lab results that I had brought with me, and we discussed them, especially the Hashimoto's diagnosis. We also discussed my current meds and he said he "didn't see anything too terrible."

Next Dr. Cuddapah gave me a thorough physical examination. Then we discussed treatment possibilities I could start before my blood test results are in. I'm kind of frustrated that he didn't start me on anything for the thyroid problem...

In my next post I'll tell you about what treatment options we decided for me to start, and the IV drip in the recliner room. It's a lot to absorb, intellectually as well as physically. They told me to wait 1-3 days between starting each new treatment, to gauge my reaction to each, but it's taking me a week between starting each new thing.


The supplements and books I bought to catch myself up on the latest in the yeast connection theory - they seem big on that at the FFC




The Atlanta Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Center







































Leaving Atlanta during rush hour traffic

Comments

  1. Hi, Sherril. I just wanted to send a hug and hope you are feeling better. I, too, had to travel for help with my Cushing's Disease. It's not an easy thing, especially when sick. I have Hashimoto's, too, but it didn't rear it's head until I had surgery for Cushing's. The high cortisol masked it by keeping the auto-immune part under control. I already knew I was hypothyroid, though, and was on massive replacements for that. The only real treatment for Hashimoto's is taking large doses of thyroid replacements (which I'm sure you already know).

    I hope you got the help you needed and you are on the road to feeling better. I care.

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  2. Hi Sherril

    I am sorry to learn of your new diagnosis of Hashimoto's Disease. However, sometimes the diagnosis is a relief. At least that part of your illness has been given a name and a possible treatment. My depression comes when so many test are run and I am told that they just don't know what that is.

    Sick and traveling for help is difficult. You are fortunate to have your mother with you. I hope the FFC can help. Please keep us posted!

    Be well

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  3. hi Sherril,

    I've been thinking about you and I'm happy to hear you've made it to the F&F Center. I look forward to reading more about your experiences there and will be hoping that you finally get some relief there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. McKay K & Aviva,

    Your well wishes help more than you can know. Thank you.

    Sherril

    ReplyDelete
  5. McKay K,

    My friend Renee often reminds me that I am BLESSED to have the mother I have. Too often I forget and take her for granted; sometimes it's so hard not having a home of my own, no matter how easy my mom makes it for me. I try to remember how lucky I am (which mostly takes the form of "awfulizing" my situation, imagining what it would be like without her, (can you say "homeless"?),and that doesn't go anywhere positive so I have to stop... I need to try to remember and be thankful for her in a positive way on a daily basis.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm sorry for your new diagnosis. I hope this center is very helpful to your recovery. I am very interested in what they do at the center and I will be moving to Atlanta soon so thank you for your detailed post. I'm also chronically ill and I have seen great results from taking nystatin to eliminate yeast in my gut. I hope it helps you similarly. The doctor I see is very current on the latest research and works in a clinic where they combine multiple theories of medicine and where physical therapists, doctors, nutritionist, acupuncturists, and psychiatrists all work together to help chronically ill patients. I hope you find the help you need. Best wishes, Em
    http://chronicillnesssurvival.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for commenting, Em. You have a very nice blog. I wonder if you've done any posts about yeast, or if you know of any research supporting the efficacy of using nystatin to control yeast? How did you know you had yeast in your gut, and how did the nystatin help you to feel better?

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  8. I went through two courses of nystatin for the yeast. It made me feel immensely better. My father, who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue about twenty years ago, has also followed anti-candida diets and says he always feels better. I notice a distinct difference in how i feel when I am fatigued and feeling crappy - i want sugar and i crave it and eat it nonstop. feeding the yeast. when i get that out of my system, and when i feel best, no desire for sugar. not feeding the yeast. i definitely see a connection in myself.

    I swear by the Corvalen. Don't buy it from the clinic if that isn't included in your plan. You can find it much cheaper online. (I get it for about $55.)

    If they only give you one option for the compound meds that they are bound to put you on, ask if there are other pharmacies that they recommend along with ITC. ITC was more expensive for me than a good local compounding pharmacy. Although I am happy to report that after ten months of therapy, my thyroid and adrenal gland are back in normal range and i am weaning off of both of those hormones. woohoo. Definite results.

    If you are on any of the anti-viral supplements, let me know and I can probably supplement your stash. I have a sensitive stomach and can't handle a lot of the meds b/c they make me throw up. So, I have hundreds of dollars worth of stuff in my cabinet. Pro-boost, Mitake mushroom, etc. I also have an unopened bottle of rest and restore because that doesn't seem to be working anymore. You have my email, so let me know if you need anything.

    I hope you get good results. I'm now just battling two more demons - sleep and the reactivated levels of epstein barr which are slow to die off.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent. Thanks so much for the feedback, Danielle. My next appointment is 11/4. I'll get my blood test results and see where we go from there...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great information. Thank you. My wife is thinking of going to the Seattle location. Primary Care Doctor diagnosed CFIDS and Fybro.

    How supportive is the FFC in helping with SSDI? Do you think the reports you have can be included with a disability claim and is the FFC willing to do a RFC - Residual Functional Capacity form?

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  11. Glad the info is helpful.

    Sorry, but I don't think the FFC will help with disability at all. I vaguely remember reading something to that effect, but I could be wrong. They made me sign reams of stuff that I didn't put on the blog. Fine print stuff. You could call the Center and ask to be sure.

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  12. Hi Sherril! I ran across your site doing some web searching. I live in ATL and was a patient of Dr. Cuddapah. It IS expensive and my insurance paid for very little except the labwork which was covered at 100% because they use Quest. I'm wondering how you are doing with the treatments. I was in severe chronic pain due to Fibromyalgia. It was nice finding a Dr. who believed something was actually wrong with me. After about a year of treatments I'm 70% better I'd say, a wonderful amount of relief. I still take methadone and lortab in the mornings to get me going as I still have some pain in my legs but I do not have to take it after the initial dose. I had to stop going due to financial concerns. When things are better financially I'm going to start back again and see what the clinic can do about the other 30% that still lingers about. I hope you are doing better and your health has improved.

    Mark

    ReplyDelete

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