Access to Supplies Isn’t a Question, It’s a Right
My Blood Glucose Meter is one of the most important things in my life. Its one of the first things that I see on my bedside table when I wake up in the morning. I’ll zip it up securely in its little black case and tuck it safely in my satchel, where it will accompany me on my daily commute. I’ll open my satchel again before I start the car, just to make sure that its there. When I get to work, I’ll place it carefully on the shelf in my locker. It patiently sits there for much of the day, ready to be at my service as much or as little as I need it. Before morning tea. Before lunch. As a post-lunchtime reassurance. If I start to sweat or shake uncontrollably. At the end of the day, I’ll tuck it safely back into my satchel, before it finds its familiar place back on my bedside table at home.
When I’m dealing with a disease that is unpredictable and ever-changing, numbers are always on my mind. They plague me throughout the day. They plague me when eat. They even plague me when I stir in the middle of the night. I’m constantly questioning myself. Thinking to myself. Doubting myself. ‘I wonder what my blood sugar level is right now? Did I give myself enough insulin at lunchtime? How much will I drop in the next hour? Am I feeling hypo? No, it must just be this afternoon’s task that’s exhausting me. Wait, maybe I am hypo? No, no way. Well, maybe…’
Last week alone I had 58 moments of uncertainty. Last fortnight there were 125. And in the last month there were 257 of them. And I have this one little device that has the power to sweep my mind clean of all the thought processes scattered there. To dismiss all of my concerns and rid me of my fears. To keep me grounded. To keep me sane. One little prick produces a number and I’m empowered again. I feel secure. I’m back in control. I know how to react.
I consider myself pretty lucky here in Oz to have unlimited access to blood glucose meter test strips, needles and other non-medication products that I use on a daily basis to manage my diabetes. Since registering with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) upon diagnosis, I have been able to get my diabetes stuff at a heavily subsidised cost, without a doctor’s prescription, whenever I like. As little or as much as I feel I need it in order to manage my condition.
So, I’m pretty devastated to hear that some Aussies with type 2 diabetes are about to have that freedom taken away from them. If their diabetes is not treated with insulin, it will be up to their doctor to decide whether they will benefit from blood glucose monitoring after an initial 6 month supply of test strips.
Yes, a type 2 would not use blood glucose monitoring as much as a type 1. But I’ve no doubt that they would go through those exact same feelings and thought processes. I’ve no doubt that at some point during the day, the week or the month, a type 2 would need to rely on the security of a blood glucose test. If they’ve eaten something different at dinner. If they’ve done more exercise than normal. If they’re not feeling well. Diabetes causes A LOT of uncertainty.
Its like being handed a box of test strips and being told “you have 6 months to get your diabetes under control.” And then in 6 months your blood glucose meter is taken away and you’re told “you now have to keep your blood sugar levels between 4 and 8 all the time.”
Diabetes is not something that we can always “get” under control in 6 months, let alone maintain all the time. Our lifestyles are ever changing – work, travel, diet, families, physical activity – all of which have significant impacts on our diabetes. Doctors aren’t by our side 24 hours a day to see, let alone understand, what we’re going through. The only person who knows you best, is you.
We are blessed to have all of these fantastic tools available today to help us manage our diabetes. For many, a blood glucose meter gives us a sense of security and control. It should never be a question of who gets them. I only wish the people making these decisions would understand.
Source: The inspiration for this story came from Renza at the Diabetogenic blog. There are more details about this decision process over on her blog.