Thursday, March 1, 2012

How many blood glucose test strips a month are enough?

It was one of those nights. I'd just finished my bedtime snack when I looked at my brand new Dexcom and saw ??? instead of a blood sugar reading. Being me, I assessed the situation calmly and  looked up what to do about it on the intern... excuse me, I just lied. Sorry. Let me try that again. I saw the ??? on my Dexcom. Being me, I assessed the situation while freaking out and panicking that I somehow managed to break my brand new Dexcom. It's brand new. I just got it a few days ago. What's happening? Did I break it?

Um, no. When I was drying off after my shower I managed to dislodge the sensor with my towel. Whew. I can fix that. I clicked the gray sensor back into place and restarted my Dexcom. It took a few hours to calibrate. Then I had to enter two finger sticks. It was quarter to four in the morning when the calibration was finished. I was exhausted. So, of course Gremlins came in and decided it would be fun to make my body extra super duper sensitive to insulin. Great.

At 6:14 AM, I woke up to Dexcom buzzing, LOW. It said 80. I did a finger stick and got:

Grr. I'm tired. I woke up for that? That's not low. 70 is low. 83 isn't low. 83 is happy land. I reset the Dexcom to wake me up if my blood sugar dropped below 70. Until then, screw it. I went back to sleep.

I blinked. I swear. At 6:24 I woke up to Dexcom buzzing.  LOW. OK, now the thing reads 69. I did another finger stick.

Yep. Now I'm low. Thanks for waking me up. I reached for a juice box, drank it and went back to sleep. 

Fourteen minutes later.

Buzz! Buzzz! BUZZZZZZZZ!

What is that noise?

Buzzzz!  BUZZZZZ!

I opened an eye. Dexcom was reading 55. 

Hold on. Time out. There is no way I am that low right now. This thing must be broken. Maybe this whole Dexcom thing was a bad idea. Fumble fumble on the bedside table for my meter. For the third time in an hour I held the Dexcom like a flashlight while I checked my blood sugar.

Under my breath I was swearing and muttering. I feel fine. This is so stupid. I just had some juice. There are 28 grams of carbs in that. There is no way I am that low. It's impossi...


I drank another juice box. This time I stayed awake and waited to make sure I was OK. I tested again and again until my blood sugar was 113 and Dexcom was pointing up. Finally!

As I was waiting, I thought about how some insurance companies limit the number of strips some PWD's are allowed in a month. I have heard some are receiving 100 strips. That's enough to test six times a day. I just used six strips in less than an hour. OK, seven, if you want to include the one with the error message. It's hard to get a blood glucose reading while using a Dexcom as a flashlight. If I could only test six times a day, I would have used an entire days worth of strips while treating one low.

I am lucky. My health insurance covers 300 strips a month for me. I have the privilege of knowing that I can test and test and retest when the diabetes gremlins invite me to a sleepover. I am aware I am blessed, but my blessing is tainted because I know other people are struggling. They need the solace and peace 300 test strips a month provides.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The last thing anyone with a blood sugar of 55 should be worrying about is if they have enough test strips to make it through the night. PWD have enough problems. Like getting a good nights sleep!

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