The day I lost it at the grocery store…

Yesterday I had a little bit of excitement at the grocery store.  As I was on my way there, I was chatting with my sister on my phone and we were mid-convo when I arrived so I hung out in the car for a bit to finish up our conversation.  Went into Kroger and after about 20 minutes, my sister texts me that my nephew had received the picture I drew for him (he sent my husband and I a picture in the mail so of course I had to draw him one, because what 5-year-old kid doesn’t love getting mail!?)  Anyway, according to my nephew, my picture was “Impressive”.  Ha!  Want to know what’s not so impressive?  Going to check your CGM and realizing, shit.  It’s not there.

Commence Panic.

OK, maybe it’s in my purse? I actually had the thought to throw it in my purse while I was on the phone with my sister.  I dump out the contents of my purse (which, as any D Lady knows, we don’t carry purses.  We carry Mary Poppins’ bag.  Picture a panicking lady dumping her purse into her shopping cart.  Yeah.)  Not there.

Shit.

I retraced my steps all while freaking out… OMG, we can’t afford to pay full price for a new one.  What if someone sees it and thinks it’s an iPod and swipes it?  WHY have I been dragging my feet on making a label to put on it, explaining that it’s a medical device, reward if found, OMG I suck at life.  Ohmygod, Ohmygod, Ohmygod.

My heart was racing.  After not seeing it in the spots I had been, I go to the customer service counter, nearly crying, asking if it had been turned in and if they will make an announcement.  The woman does, but of course her announcement makes zero sense.  (Really how do you explain what a CGM is to someone who has no idea?).

I’m freaking the hell out.  Texting with my husband and panicking.  I said about 9,000 prayers to St. Anthony (who usually is listening when I lose stuff!).  As a last-ditch effort I think that maybe it fell off while I was walking into the store, maybe, just maybe the Diabetes-Gods will smile upon me and it wasn’t run over.  I ditch my half full cart in the produce section and head out to my car.

Don’t see it in the parking lot.  Fuuuuuuuuu……dge.   Maybe it’s in my car??  Please, please, please, let it be there.  I open the door…and….

FOUND IT.  It was in between my seat and my door.

Biggest sigh of relief ever.

I sent my husband a text that said “FOU D IT”, which he was able to decipher as “FOUND IT” (he’s so smart).  He wrote back that he was in his truck on his way to the store.  (I should’ve made him come and finish up the grocery shopping, cuz man, I needed a beer or something at this point!).

Friends, I was freaked the hell out for a good 30 minutes.  I rely so much on this device and should I lose it and can’t get it replaced under warranty, right now it just wouldn’t be in the cards to replace.  My heart is still racing.

Lesson learned.  Unless I am at home or at work, my Dexcom will stay securely IN something.  In my purse, my boxing bag, cup holder of my car.  The clip it comes with really just isn’t the best and I really do not want to have to have a panic attack at Kroger again.

Laura Fun Fact – I played Jane Banks in my Kindergarten production of Mary Poppins.  On video, there is a shot of me on stage , butt to the crowd, picking a massive wedgie.  I was a classy little kid.

Happy Diabetes Blog Check-In Day, everyone!

Not a week goes by….

… without fighting with my insurance company.

Warning: this post is rather venty and may contain some adult language.  Parental Guidance Suggested.

For the past few months I’ve been in one battle after another with my insurance and/or pharmacy benefits company.  Luckily, everything went smoothly with obtaining my insulin pump and CGM.  However, there have been a few headaches that I’ve had to deal with that are really starting to piss me off.  As if we PWDs don’t have enough to deal with, but insurance makes us jump through hoops (of fire, it seems) to get things done.

Test Strips – My blood sugar meter “talks” to my pump.  Yay, Animas!  It’s a One touch meter, not some fancy unique brand that no one has ever heard of.  Well, my strips cost $95/month.  I’ve reached my out-of-pocket max for this benefits year (a perk to making major cyborg-living purchases!) so since they are classified as Durable Medical Equipment, they should be covered 100% for the rest of my benefit year.  Of course they weren’t so I called and was told they aren’t the preferred brand so if I want them covered 100%, I need to switch meters.  Pisses me off.  My pump supplies (remember, my meter “talks” to my pump) are covered, no questions asked.  So, fine.  I’ll switch meters and only use my meter remote when I will need to bolus from it (wearing a dress).  Worth it to save $$ and not a huge deal since I bolus from my Ping 99.7% of the time anyway.  I call to order my new meter (Verio IQ) and they are back ordered/recalled/they don’t like me so they won’t send me one/something.  So, guess who is on her last pack of strips and has to order more at $95 for a month?  THIS GIRL.  I am tempted to call and argue that they should cover this month’s worth of strips since it’s not exactly my fault that I don’t have my new meter yet.  But, I really doubt I’ll win that fight and frankly, I’m tired and don’t even feel like putting forth the effort.
Insulin – Previously, I used Humalog.  Was always covered with no problems.  Well, my doc switched me to  Apidra.  However, when I first got back on pump therapy, my pharmacy didn’t have any Apidra in stock so I used a vial of Humalog that I had to get started.  Worked fabulously.  But, my Endo wanted me to try Apidra so once the vial of Humalog was empty, I switched to it.  I feel like I’m not reacting to it as well as I did with the Humalog, so I asked to be switched back to see if this is the case.  This is all within the last 6 months.  Endo says, no problem, writes me a script for a 90 day supply of Humalog.  I mail it in to my mail order pharmacy and now my pharmacy benefits people are saying it’s not covered.  Something about the “formulary changed”.  Oh, I can get it, I just have to pay out-of-pocket.  So now I have to use a sub-par (for me) insulin because some higher up in some office decided that they weren’t going to cover my insulin.   Granted, it’s not like my control with Apidra is all over the place (if it was I’d be sure to appeal!), but I wanted to see if I’d do better with Humalog, like I think I would.
Dealing with insurance shit makes me rage.  I don’t expect anything to be free, but I’d at least like reasonable options when it comes to my diabetes management.  $1200/year just to test my blood sugar is outrageous.  Telling me what insulin I can and cannot use??  What the French is up with that?!
I don’t often get diabetes burnout.  Sure I’ll have a day here or there where I’m temper-tantruming against the disease.  But, man.  Insurance company burnout?  I have that 24/7.  I just don’t understand why it has to be so hard to make dealing with diabetes or any other chronic illness just a little bit easier with maybe a few more choices so we can make the best decisions for ourselves to manage this disease that we live with every day.
Maybe some day, this will be me.
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Sensor conundrum.

Today marks the two week birthday of my current sensor.  *throws confetti*  This frugal diabetic is psyched that I am getting extra life out of this sensor.  I am wearing it on my right thigh, in a location I’ve never even used as a pump infusion site.  I must say, I really like this area of real estate and anticipate my next sensor to be on my left thigh.  Sometimes I forget about it when I’m pulling down my pants for the 9,000 daily trips to the ladies room, but the not painful snag of my pants on the sensor reminds me.  Other than that…absolutely no major issues with this site.  Sensor is accurate, it’s comfortable, I dig it.  Yay!

As much as I love this spot, I have a conundrum.  I feel that the tape is peeling a bit more on my thigh than sites on my belly (Likely due to additional rubbing of clothing, I’m guessing), and my patchwork job to reinforce the tape is not very attractive.  I started the sensor with my donut-hole OpSite Flexifix and have been patching up the corners with squares of IV 3000 as needed.  However, despite this, the sensor is still working and working well.  Fellow CGM-ers…what do you do?  Replace the sensor when the tape gets nasty or keep reinforcing until the sensor finally poops out?

My current plan is to keep the sensor alive as long as possible.  Since Diabetes ain’t cheap to treat, and each sensor costs about $20, I think I can put my vanity aside for a little while in order to save a few bucks.  I suppose starring in that Nair commercial will just have to wait.

You’re not the boss of me!

Argh.  I have a love/hate relationship with insurance.  Love it because w/out it, well, I’d be selling my kidney and firstborn to pay for my diabetes care.  However, that being said, even with insurance, diabetes is expensive, man.

One of the perks for buying my new pump and CGM early on in the year and all at once was that I have met my out-of-pocket max for the year.  Hello, 7 months of lower diabetes costs!  Woohoo!  I called my insurance company to see what exactly was now covered at 100% and was told “all diabetes supplies.”  I clarified with her, “So, pump supplies, CGM sensors, test strips, correct?”.  It was confirmed, yes, these things are covered.  Parrrrrrty!

Imagine my surprise when I went to the pharmacy today and I was asked to pay for my test strips.  Now, this isn’t a $20 co-pay, it’s close to $100 for a one month supply.  The young lady at the pharmacy assured me that they ran it through my insurance/prescription coverage so I paid and told her I’d take it up with them.

I called my insurance company first who connected me with the prescription folks and told me yes, my strips are covered at 100% if I use Accuchek.  I use OneTouch, and they are not covered at 100% under my plan and despite meeting my out-of-pocket expenses, I still have to pay the $100/month.  The way she made it sound was that Accuchek strips are covered 100% all the time, no matter if the out-of-pocket max has been met.

I told her this is ridiculous and she needs to give me the phone number of whomever I need to speak to regarding this.  I have left a voicemail and am looking forward to receiving a call back.  It just makes no sense to me that my pump supplies are covered yet the test strips for the meter that talks to my pump are not.  Does.not.compute.

It makes me pretty angry that some random person gets to decide what is covered and what is not and make decisions about MY medical care.

Wish me luck when dealing with the insurance company!

Yay, team!

Diabetes Blog Week, Day 4.

We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you’ve made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one’s) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small – think about self-acceptance, something you’ve mastered (pump / exercise / diet / etc.), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group / choosing to use or not use a technology / etc.)dblogweek

Hmmmmm, good question!  I feel like I haven’t mastered anything when it comes to my diabetes care.  I mean, I have mastered the motions, testing my sugar when needed, changing my pump sites, bolusing, etc.  But I am still, 14 1/2 years in, not 100% confident to say “Yes! I kick ass at diabetes!”  My sugars are not perfect, I don’t exercise every day, I still enjoy a carb or 20, and I have days where I’m crying out of frustration that I have to live with this crap for the rest of my life.  Sometimes my blood sugar is just a real jerk for no reason (like last night for example – for about 4 hours I was cruising between 43 and 80 despite 20 oz of OJ and two not-so-small spoonfuls of peanut butter).  Is there anyone out there who really has mastered diabetes?  Who can go to their endo every three months and know that their A1c is going to be 6.0?  Who has the perfect attitude when it comes to living with this?

But, the question wasn’t if you’ve mastered diabetes.  It’s about diabetes-related accomplishments.  Recently I made some pretty darn important care decisions.  As the Hubs and I want to have a small human in the next year or two, I knew that the time had come where I need to get serious and get as close as I can to mastering diabetes.  I decided to end my months-long pump holiday and resume pump therapy with the help of a CGM.  This was something I thought about for weeks months before finally accepting that I’m going to have to become a cyborg again.

You see, in theory, I love the pump.  Don’t have to carry around syringes or pens, your meal schedule can be more varied, and it offers better management for most people than multiple daily injections.  Blah, blah, blah.

But in reality, the pump is a pain in the butt.  Site changes, being connected all the time, it’s expensive, it beeps at you, it’s bulky and gets in the way, and it makes wearing dresses a headache!  My pump-cation had been glorious!  However, knowing all of the negatives that come with wearing a pump, I decided the best thing for my health and the health of a future pregnancy would be to get back on the pump and to get a CGM.  So the research began.

I googled, I youtubed, I blog-stalked.  Wow, there are a lot of people online sharing their experiences with various pumps and CGM setups.  The doctors and manufacturer’s’ sites will only tell you so much, these blogs were so helpful in sharing real-world experiences and opinions.  I especially found blogs written by women who are in similar life stages as me to be very helpful and was so happy to find their sites (Texting my Pancreas and SixUntilMe especially).   With the help of my new blogger buddies and the fabulous interwebs, I decided on the Dexcom G4 Platinum CGM and Animas Ping pump.  In black and silver – stylin’.

Change is scary and although I had previously been on the MiniMed Paradigm pump, I was pretty nervous about going back on pump therapy.  I had a breakdown one night about the fears of the unknown and how much it sucks that I have to do this and think about these things a year before we even want to start trying for a baby.  He, however, reassured me that there are other ways to start a family and if I absolutely did not want to do this, I didn’t have to.  He also made the great point that if I hate it, I can quit.  He’s so smart.

Fast forward to today and I’m almost 2 weeks into my new cyborg life.  Have I mastered it?  Nope, not quite.  I’m still aware of the pump clipped to my pants and the CGM sensor and transmitter taped to my body.  I still feel dorky about my “diabetes tool belt”.  My sugars aren’t perfect and I definitely miss the freedom of not being attached.  But one thing I have mastered is my attitude that I’m just doing what I have to do.  And knowing that diabetes care is something that can be adjusted and modified to fit my needs at the time.  Not everyone needs to be on pump therapy.  It’s not the best course for every.single.person with a dead pancreas.  But for me, right now, it’s the best choice in regards to my goal of becoming a mother, and I’m cool with that.  Will it be my choice 5 years from now?  Who knows.  All we can really do in regards to our care is to make the best decision with the knowledge we have at the time.  I think a series of making the right decision and small accomplishments will lead me closer and closer to that whole mastering diabetes thing.  But for now, I feel like I’ve accomplished the right attitude.

Arts and Crafts, Diabetes Style.

As someone who finds the cost of the ‘betes among the most frustrating things about the disease, I try to get as much life out of my supplies as possible.  Please note that this does not mean I slack on testing my blood sugar or take less insulin than is prescribed (and I am not recommending this in any fashion!), but I do try to hang on to my supplies until they are so far gone, that there is no pulling them away from the light.  While I was researching Continuous Glucose Monitoring I came to learn that although Dexcom approves their sensors for one week, many people extend the life of them by restarting the sensor once the one week is up.  I read about people getting 10, 14, 20+ days out of their sensors.  Sweet!!!  Even with insurance, those puppies cost a pretty penny so I knew I’d be one to get as much juice out of a sensor as possible.  This means keeping it attached to my body as best I can!

The first real sensor I used, since sensor #1 was a dud (a dud which Dexcom has since replaced.  Thank you, Dexcom!), lasted 12 days!  Word.  I will be happy if I can average 10 days/sensor so that I can use 3 per month instead of 4.  I think that this sensor may have lasted a little bit longer, had the adhesive I rigged up done a better job.  I noticed the adhesive was coming up a few days in so I found some old medical tape in our cabinet and patched it up while I waited for my OpSite Flexifix to arrive.  Once it did, I created a donut hole in the tape and taped it up.  Nothing lasts forever and my sensor officially was coming off yesterday morning.  Let me just say, ouch, the flexifix is not terribly pleasant to take off.  It’s like a really, really big band-aid and although I’m brave with needles, that shit hurt.

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We had a good run.

I figured this time, I would start off from day 1 with the Flexifix.  This means some arts and crafts!  FUN!  Since this is a very complicated project (Please note the sarcasm), allow me to instruct you.

What You Need:

-1 Old Dexcom Sensor
-Scissors
-Sharpie or writing utensil of your choosing
-OpSite Flexifix tape/adhesive (What’s the correct terminology here? I use the 4″)

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Are you ready for this super challenging Arts and Crafts Project????  Buckle your seatbelt, you’re along for a fun and exciting ride!


Step One

Cut the amount of tape you want to cover the sensor and adhesive.  I like a lot of tape.

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Step Two
Folding the sides of the Dexcom adhesive in (Or you can cut it off if you wish), outline the sensor on the “Remove First” side of the paper.  Try to get as close as you can to the sensor.

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Nailpolish works really well to hold down the corners of tape.

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Step Three
Once the entire sensor is traced, fold the tape in half at the sensor outline, but don’t crease it.  Using the trick we all learned in kindergarten, start your donut hole by cutting on the long side of the sensor outline at the fold.  Don’t cut too much though because then your donut hole will be too big and the tape will be pointless and you’ll be mad at me for not warning you about this very serious arts and crafts issue.

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Fold, fold.

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Cut, cut.  The adhesive makes it a little tricky, so make sure you have nice sharp scissors!


Step Four

Behold the amazement of your creation and be grateful you had my wonderful instruction in figuring out just how to do this!

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OhEmGee, there is a hole in that tape! How did that happen?  (The scraps are nice for some patchwork you may have to do later in your sensor’s life)

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Fits quite nicely, don’t ya think?

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You will last forever, sensor.

 
So there you have it.  I am a donut-hole cutter, for now.  Maybe one day I’ll become a stripper (had to do it).  How do you keep your sensors alive for a few extra days?  Do you apply reinforcements from day one or as needed?


The cost of the ‘betes.

One of the things that I gripe most about with having diabetes is the sheer cost of the disease.  The doctor’s appointments, the test strips, the glucose tabs, the lancets, the pump supplies, the never-ending prescriptions that always need to be refilled.  It never, ever ends.  I get very frustrated when the Hubs and I are having a budget conversation and we have to include monthly medical expenses.  It shouldn’t be this way.  I feel angry and I feel guilty that my health has such an effect on our finances.

We spend about $300 per month on keeping me alive.  I’m on meds for my thyroid, bum pancreas, birth control (for now), cholesterol, and of course there are the test strips (which my insurance refuses to recognize as a prescription, but instead are labeled durable medical equipment, do not even get me started), pump supplies, CGM supplies, the list goes on and on and on and on some more.  Granted some of these things can be seen as “elective” – Birth Control, Pump, CGM, but in my mind, they are essential.  One of the big reasons why I didn’t go on the CGM previously was the cost.  How sad is that?  I’m on my 10th day with this fancy new toy and I already see it’s amazing value.  My numbers are already better (Currently cruising at 127 and holding steady, thankyouverymuch).  As I said to my husband while venting my frustrations about the “diabetes cover charge”, the insurance companies should be handing insulin pumps and CGMs out like candy.  (Pun intended).  It makes me wonder what costs them more – the initial expense of getting people on these courses of treatment, or treating diabetes related complications down the road.  I know that I am very lucky and very blessed to have insurance and the Hubs and I can afford our out-of-pocket expenses for me to best manage my disease.  As we are planning to have a family, it is so important to both of us that we do whatever is possible to ensure that I am as healthy as possible come baby time!

While I recognize my fortune, I still get frustrated.  I’d love an extra $300 per month to spend on myself (can we say mani/pedi time?) or to put towards our future, be it in a retirement fund or into savings for a new home.  And then when I have the friends complaining that the cost of their birth control went up from $10/month to $20, or that they have to go to the doctor and are annoyed at their copay…it really makes me want to scream.  Medical care is ridiculously expensive as is.  Add a chronic disease in the mix and it just multiplies.  I sometimes think people really have no idea how expensive this disease is.

But, what can you do?  Not taking my meds isn’t an option.  So we grin and bear it and move forward.  It’s just a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, and today is one of those days!