I am going to step out on a limb here and say that having type II diabetes means facing a number of obstacles – emotional, nutritional and physical. Upon diagnosis, the barrage of emotions – shock, confusion, denial, anger, grief – is staggering. It is not a stretch to say that life as you knew it is a thing of the past. You now have to learn how to eat, drink, exercise, test your blood and the most optimal times throughout the day to do those things. Nutritionally, you must learn how everything – food, drink, exercise, medication – will affect your blood sugar and how to modify each of those things address blood glucose readings that are too high or too low. Physically, you endure the side effects of your new diet and the addition of exercise to your routine. For me, I struggled to find the time to have type II diabetes and be a med student’s wife, a mother, a stepmother, and an employee. This thing literally comes at you from every direction. There is one source of constant feedback that becomes your lifeline….. your glucometer and test strips. The ability to “TEST, TEST, TEST” (you will see this mantra on almost all of the diabetes message boards) allows a type II diabetic to know how their diet and their exercise affects their blood glucose levels without any side effects (technology is so advanced now that most of us don’t even endure sore fingers!).
I am going to go out on another limb and say that those that test are those that have made managing their diabetes and preventing diabetic complications a priority in their daily life. Although the diabetic benefits the most from these efforts, the general population benefits as well. Just research the biggest contributors to escalating healthcare costs in this country. You will see the rising obesity rates and the dramatic impact they have on healthcare’s “bottom line.” Anywhere you see the term “obesity,” diabetes, heart disease and hypertension (bit of humor: my sweet friend who is a nurse calls this the Texas Trio) are sure to follow. The cost of diabetic complications is exorbitant to the patient, those that care for them and the healthcare system. When you consider the financial cost and that 80% of diabetic complications are preventable it becomes apparent how imperative prevention is for so many reasons. Prevention can not be accomplished by new legislation, healthcare reform, or by those that love a diabetic. Prevention is up to each type II diabetic and those that are at high risk for developing the disease (pre-diabetics). Daily blood glucose testing is central to successful prevention. It is a simple and painless method to help manage diabetes; however, always having supplies on hand may not always be so simple.
I recently called my pharmacy to refill my test strips. I was told that my insurance company did not approve the request because it was too “soon” since my last refill. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? We are talking about little pieces of plastic that collect my blood. We are not talking about pills, syrups, or anything else that could be harmful if not controlled. We are talking about test strips. We are talking about blood glucose management. We are talking about preventing diabetic complications. We are talking about decreasing the costs of healthcare associated with the 80% of diabetic complications that are preventable. This just absolutely amazes me. These things should be passed out like candy to diabetics. There should be test-strip-bowls in every endocrinologist’s office just like the lollipop bowls at the pediatrician’s. Of all the obstacles diabetics face, obtaining test strips should NOT be one. Those that test are those that have made managing their diabetes and preventing diabetic complications a priority in their daily life. Those that test are making a responsible decision that affects their life, the lives of those that love them and they are contributing – with every single pin prick – to the effort to reduce the cost of healthcare in this country.
So, until my doctor puts out a test-strip-bowl, I am left with 2 choices. 1) Test no more than 3 times a day OR 2) end up going whole days without testing until my insurance agency gives my pharmacy the green light to dispense me my little pieces of plastic. I can tell you that neither option agrees with me and, I am going to step out on another limb here, I am pretty sure the thousands of people on all of the wonderful diabetic message boards would agree. From what I can tell from these amazing folks, we are all working to stay off medications, to take less or be taken off medication completely, to lose weight, the lower our blood glucose levels….. to PREVENT the diabetic complications that are guaranteed if we do not successfully manage are blood glucose. This management begins when we “TEST, TEST, TEST” our blood glucose.
This was more of a venting, slightly political entry. I apologize if I have offended anyone. Have any of you faced this obstacle and found a way to overcome it? If so, please share.
The Dishing Diabetic