Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Eight . . .

eightEight years ago today I started Bitter-Sweet.  Yes, there are a few posts written in the beginning of 2008, but those were originally published over at TuDiabetes back when members had the capability of creating a blog on that site.  But June 21, 2008 was the day I created this blog site and my Bitter-Sweet journey began.

Now I will admit, given the chance I would opt out of diabetes in a minute.  But since that isn’t about to happen any time soon, I’m so thankful I have this blog to help me connect with other fabulous PWDs and share all my ups and downs.  With that in mind, here are eight wonderful things that probably wouldn’t have happened if not for my blog . . . .
Thank you to everyone who had read or commented or tweeted or befriended me in the past eight years.  My world is a much better place because of you.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Insulin for Syrians #insulin4all

It is easy to complain about living with diabetes.  It is easy to be frustrated by insurance policies and the hoops we jump through for our diabetes care.  It is easy to be angry about how much of our income we spend on diabetes supplies.  And it is easy to get burned out on diabetes advocacy at times, because there are so many important causes out there that need our attention.  I’m sorry to say I’ve felt the burnout quite a bit in the past few month.  But then, something comes along to put it all in perspective.

What if you didn’t know how or when you will get your next bottle of insulin?  What if you didn’t have test strips?  What if the healthcare system was completely shut down?  What if war forced you from your home?  How would you survive?

I'm fortunate to know I have the supplies I need to live with diabetes.

I have NEVER faced a question like that.  In over 36 years with diabetes, I always knew I could get the insulin I needed.  So the Insulin for Syrians appeal launched by T1International last week was a huge wake up call about how lucky, how privileged I am.  I made my donation last week, and I’m grateful to be able to help spread the word about this initiative, especially since today is World Refugee Day.

If, like me, the thought of wondering where your next shot of insulin is coming from scares you and makes you sad, please consider a donation to Insulin for Syrians.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Admitting I Was Wrong . . . .

I’ve thought long and hard about whether I should write this post.  For weeks I was certain I would never put this out there.  But then I thought about how it is important to me to be truthful.  So here comes the part where I admit I was wrong.

At the end of last year I found out my insurance company would no longer pay anything toward the brand of insulin I use.  There would be no co-pay on Apidra.  If I continued to use it, I would pay 100% of the cost.  Later I received the same letter about my Bayer test strips.  I spoke to my endo and he agreed we would appeal.

The test strip fight went well.  My insurance company called me to verify what pump and what meter I use.  I confirmed that I use the Medtronic 530G and the Bayer Contour Next Link.  They talk to each other so my blood sugar number automatically transfers to my pump, reducing the risk of user error when dosing my insulin.  (Meaning I wouldn’t accidentally manually type in the wrong blood sugar number.)  My test strips were approved and my co-pay is the same as it was in 2015.

The insulin fight was another story.  In the end, my endo wrote a new prescription for NovoLog and I said good-bye to my beloved Apidra.  The insulin that has helped me keep my A1C at target levels for eight years.  The insulin I had no interest in ever switching away from.  The insulin I was sure was the best fit for my body.

Or maybe not.  I filled that first reservoir with NovoLog and waited to watch my blood sugars turn to crap.  But they didn’t.  The NovoLog is working just fine.  Sometimes I think it’s working better.  I feel like my overnights are flatter.  Last night I stayed between 116 and 82 for eight hours and woke up with a fasting blood sugar of 99.  I can’t complain about that.

I also feel that I’m having a lot less low blood sugars than I had when using Apidra.  And it isn’t coming at the cost of more highs either.  I do need to admit that Pete and I are working on shedding our many extra pounds, so I’m eating better and moving more.  And I know that is helping to smooth things out.  But I also honestly feel the new insulin is working better for me.  I have to admit I was wrong when I said Apidra was the best fit.

BUT!!!!  And here is the important part . . . . I am still 100% opposed to insurance companies dictating what brand of medications and devices we are able to use.  I believe that decision should rest wholly in the hand of patients and their medical teams.  Which is why I thought long and hard about putting this post out there.  In the end, I feel I was lucky.  I’m lucky that my new insulin works great for me.  I do believe trying new brands might not be a bad idea once and a while, because maybe something out there will work better.  But overall, people with chronic illnesses need to use what ever keeps them the most healthy and fits the best in their lives.  We should not be at the mercy of what our insurance companies dictate.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tips & Tricks - A Guest Post

*** During Diabetes Blog Week I received an email from my friend, Dan Patrick, sharing a tip / trick he finds helpful.  Dan doesn’t have a blog of his own so I asked if I could share his tip here and he agreed.  But first, some background.  I originally met Dan in Vegas at the 2015 Diabetes Unconference.  He is friendly, he is smart, he always presents a positive attitude and he quickly has become a favorite person of mine.  (He is also very tall.  Which is neither here nor there but for some reason I feel compelled to mention it.)  Dan is a hero of mine because he doesn’t back down from a fight and he is always willing to share his experience in order to help others.  You guys, he fought Medicare for CGM coverage and WON!!  So I am truly honored to share the following tip from Dan.

“I buy glucose tablets in bulk to save money, and re-use old pill containers to carry just the right amount when traveling.”

It is the beginning of my day.  Before I leave the house to begin my travels, I check my backup system of glucose tablets.  Carrying glucose tabs gives me the opportunity to quickly respond to the onset of falling blood glucose levels and raise my low blood sugar quickly.  The local grocery store sells glucose tablets in a tube container of 10 tablets or a container of 50 tablets. I usually purchase two 50 tablet containers of different flavors so that I can mix up the taste.

I have found the best storage for glucose tablets is to select various used pill containers and fill them with different quantities of glucose tablets, and I have some with me most of the time.  Whether traveling during the day or night, glucose tablets are close at hand.  The used pill containers protect the tablets and I have a visual check on the number of tablets with precise carb amounts.

In conclusion, I now have old pill containers in many locations.  No one consumes my glucose tablets, like they raided my emergency candies.  When I take a tablet, I know precisely how many carbs I have consumed in order to avoid or turn around a possible hypoglycemic event.  This micro control has allowed me to minimize roller coaster rides from a low to a high blood sugar range.  This hack results in a lower purchase cost for glucose tablets, protects the tablets based upon the safety of the used-pill containers, and assists me with better control to minimize hypoglycemic events.


Oh, btw the pill containers are very hard and with child-proof lids will stay dry when dropped in water.

*** Thank you Dan!  What a great idea.  I appreciate you letting me share your tip!!