Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What Goes Around Comes Around

So many of us with diabetes have unhappy, angry, or frustrating encounters with people who are wholly uneducated and have misconceptions about it.  I do try to use those times for education but they can create a cold place in my heart.  We often blog, Tweet, or Facebook about those encounters so others that understand can commensurate and give feedback.

I wanted to tell a story about a nice experience that I had recently since those can be few and far between.

Rob and I were shopping at Target (can someone anyone explain to me why I arrive with a list of five items to buy and end up with an entire cart full of goodies that cost me $200?).

My CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) signaled I was low (I have my alert set at 70).  Rob asked me if I wanted to schlep over to Starbucks and grab something to eat or drink.  I figured we wouldn't be there long (really?) and I had a steady arrow (versus one pointing down which indicates a fast moving blood sugar) so I felt like I'd be OK.

A few minutes later I got the 55 alert (which Dexcom programs because the situation has now become dangerous).  Rob asked again about Starbucks but I figured he was there to help me and we'd be done soon.  He wasn't happy about that answer but I'm know to throw a fit so he went along with it begrudgingly.  I was still on my feet and acting pretty "normal."

As we got to the checkout counter, I actually started to feel low (shaking and sweating like crazy) and the CGM showed a blood sugar of 42 so I grabbed some Sour Patch Kids from the display.  The woman that was checking us out asked, "Do you want that in the bag or in your purse?"  I told her I'd take them because my blood sugar was low and I needed to eat them ASAP (I've never been one to hide my diabetes but I'm sure the hypo caused me to overshare at that moment).

Her response was awesome!  She said, "I've got scissors here to help you open the package, please start eating them now."  I told her I'd be OK and would scarf them in the car (I didn't want to hold up the line).  She said, "Please eat them now, the other customers will be fine."  I was surprised by her response and must have looked at her a bit quizzically because she told me a quick story.

"My Dad had Type 1 Diabetes.  I know how this all works.  He helped me move a few years ago and went shopping without me while I unpacked.  His blood sugar dropped and he passed out in the store.  A clerk, who also had a diabetic father, dropped what she was doing and helped him the best she could (including trying to wake him enough to drink juice) while 911 was called.  I'll never forget the fear and helplessness of that day but I'll also remember the woman who helped my Dad.  Please be safe and eat your candy."

I felt overwhelmed by her story and by her concern about someone she didn't know except for the fleeting moments I had been in her line.

We had a true 'what goes around moment.'  Her Dad was helped by someone whose Dad also had diabetes.  She, in turn, wanted to help me.  It was a sort of threesome that only someone with diabetes could hope for.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

One Of Us

I was sitting at a bar the other day . . .  If you know me at all, you know full well that many most of my stories begin that way!

Two times in the last month I HAVE been sitting at a bar and had what I'd call a "Diabetes Encounter."  No, that's not the same as seeing a UFO or Close Encounters of the Third Kind but it's even better.

We were returning from a vacation in Mexico a week or so ago and had to connect in Houston.  A six hour layover necessitated a visit to the bar near our gate.  Rob (AKA Angry - He's now OK with my using his real name) asked me if I noticed the bartender's arm.  I assumed he had a cool tattoo.  Chris, our bartender, turned to show me his biceps and he was wearing and Omnipod.  I yanked my Animas Ping from my waistband and showed it to him.  A mini show and tell where only the cool kids had insulin pumps!!  We chatted on and off for the next two hours about pumps, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), and diabetes.  He told me that he also wears a Dexcom CGM.  I asked him his favorite place to wear it and he said, "We can only wear them on our stomachs."  I told him that many (most?) of us don't limit ourselves and that he should try other spots if he was willing and comfortable.  He was excited that he could actually do that and was planning which place to try next (I think his arm was the winner but he was pondering using his chest as well).  Liz to the rescue?

I often wear my Dexcom transmitter on my arm (and now maybe bartender Chis will too!).  Now that it's warm enough to wear short sleeves without freezing to death (a bit earlier than usual in Wisconsin!), it is plainly visible.

Last weekend we were at one of our favorite restaurants hanging at the bar.  A woman sat down next to me and asked, "Type 1 or Type 2?"  She had spotted my Dexcom on my arm and we started chatting about diabetes and CGMs.  She was quite impressed with the cute, coordinating Pump Peelz stickers I was using on my transmitter and receiver.
My June Peelz. Cute!

I find it amazing that lousy old diabetes can bring people together, even at bars.  Common ground is common ground no matter what the circumstances may be.  I really enjoy feeling like I've found 'one of me' in the wild!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I Call BS (meaning Bull Shit, not Blood Sugar)!

A story written by DiabetesMine broke the news that United Healthcare has decided that, as of July 1st, patients with diabetes (over the age of 18) should only be allowed choose a Medtronic insulin pump if their doctors / health care team prescribe pump therapy.

A heath insurance company should not make medical decisions.  EVER.  If a doctor decides that a patient needs a certain medication, therapy, medical device etc., then that is the best choice for the patient and they should not have to sacrifice and use something that an insurance company says is the "only option."  Remember that the sacrifice may cause even worse health issues and can be extremely costly to the patient (can you say "out of network?"). 

Why did United Health Care do this?  I'm not sure (NO ONE is sure except them).  Maybe they and Medtronic have a special 'deal' and Medtronic has some sort of payback system?  Maybe they are too lazy to work with other pump manufacturers / suppliers?  I can't answer these or any of the other questions this generates.

The press release (linked above) was put out by Tandem Diabetes Care (they also make insulin pumps).  They state, most perfectly, "Having diabetes isn’t a choice. How people manage it should be. Insulin pumps are not a one-size fits all solution. Selecting which pump is the best fit for a person to manage their therapy needs should be a decision made between a person and their healthcare provider."

United Health Group is the parent company of United Healthcare.  If you visit their website, you will see their mission statement:

"We seek to enhance the performance of the health system and improve the overall health and well-being of the people we serve and their communities." 

 "We work with health care professionals and other key partners to expand access to quality health care so people get the care they need at an affordable price." 

"We support the physician/patient relationship and empower people with the information, guidance and tools they need to make personal health choices and decisions."

Hmmmm. . . I don't think so guys.  I think you seek to make money, lots and lots of money.  And I think you seek to screw your customers in that process.

My friend Stephen Shaul at Happy-Medium wrote about this topic more eloquently that I can (please, please use the link and read his take).  He says, "Eliminating choice for patients is wrong, it reduces innovation, and in no way does it “improve the overall health and well-being” of People With Diabetes, or even save them money."  And he points out, "Choice isn’t just important… choice is necessary."

Is there a fix to this situation?  I'm going to tweet, blog, and Facebook about it as much as I can.  I'm going to tell everyone I know about it.  I hope that people who are looking for employment tell companies, "I'm sorry, I'd love to take the job but can't do so because your provider is United Healthcare."  Companies looking for good employees may be 
'forced' to change to a new provider if people don't want to work for them.  Maybe if United Healthcare loses business, they will realize what they've done.  Will any of this help?  I can only hope.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Rose By Any Other Name


Most people associate February with Valentine's Day but let's talk about another very important part of February, the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign.

I'm lucky that I live with diabetes in a place where I have access to insulin, to education, and to a lot of help/advice from the Diabetes Online Community (DOC).  While I may wonder what will happen to my blood sugar as I eat my lunch; I have access to insulin to cover those carbs I'm munching on.  Unfortunately, many children aren't so lucky and they need your help.

The Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign raises donations for Life for a Child which is currently helping over 17,000 children with diabetes in 46 countries.  Lack of access to insulin is a common cause of death. The estimated life expectancy of a child who has just developed diabetes could be less than a year in some areas.

Here's the idea:  Buy one less rose this Valentine's Day ('spare a rose') and donate what that rose costs to 'save a child' with diabetes in a developing country.  What do roses cost now a days?  $5 provides a month of life to a child with Type 1 diabetes.  That seems pretty reasonable doesn't it?  Even if you aren't the rose buying type, join the cool kids by jumping in feet first and donating too.

Need a bit more motivation to donate?  Visit the Spare a Rose, Save a Child Facebook page and learn about some of the children that you can help.  Bam! There it is!

It's this simple:  Visit this link and choose a one time or monthly donation amount.  You will be directed to PayPal but you don't need to have an account to donate (just click on the "Pay with a debit or credit card" link at the bottom of the page).  Remember that if you live in the US your donation is tax deductible (more motivation!).

You can help save a life by giving a child access to insulin.  You would also be giving ME a Valentine's Day gift without having to step out your front door.  You know you want to.  And I know that I would love it.