Thursday, 22 June 2017

Accessing A Glucometer In Ontario

You have just been diagnosed. The doctor informs you that part of being diabetic is you have to self monitor your blood sugars at home. She/He gives you a prescription for a glucometer and you are told you will be referred to the Diabetic Education Centre (DEC) near you. You also find out it will be a while, a couple of weeks to a month, before you actually see the Certified Diabetic Educator (CDE) Team. (The system is overburdened, mainly with people with T2, not unlike many other countries.) You take your prescription, which is general and says 'Glucometer for diabetes testing',  and off you go to your favourite drug store.

As an aside, least in Ontario, glucometers are covered by most drug plans both publicly and ones negotiated through union contracts. There is also financial assistance for those who are working but have no benefits.

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/drugs/programs/odb/opdp_diabetic.aspx

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/diabetes/docs/diabetes_factsheets/English/Coverage_21july09.pdf

https://www.diabetes.ca/getmedia/4873c9cc-1105-4c11-9e90-230ea52a9c60/ontario-financial-assistance-programs.pdf.aspx

At this point, your teaching is done by the pharmacist who is also a CDE until you get into the DEC. This fills a gap in our system. The pharmacist teaches you how to test and gives you a glucometer. How she/he chooses one, one can only guess. If you're lucky enough to have a pharmacist who is diabetic, then your glucometer will likely meet your needs. And to be fair, if your pharmacist is not diabetic and just chooses one for you, then they are likely going to give you a monitor that is simple to use, with very few features. (Personally, I like features. I digress. Back to the story.) Your initial monitor is covered by your drug plan. Yay. Now your journey begins with your new meter.

Fast forward time let's say a year or two later. You are now a pro at using your glucometer. Because you're on the internet, you see ads for glucometers coming up because you did a search related to something to do with diabetes. Hmmm, there are other glucometers? With more features? Holy whack-a-doodle there sure are!

Here's where I think you can have some latitude. I hated my first monitor. It was big. It was clumsy. And at that time, I felt I wanted to hide my testing from the world. Oh, people knew I was diabetic but I preferred to test quietly and in my mind, discreetly. (Now I still use judgement but I'm less concerned about 'discreet'.) The fact remained, I hated my monitor. So I followed those ads and read many of them. More popped up. (Who says this marketing tool doesn't work?) I went to reputable sites like Diabetes Canada and the American Diabetes Association for more information. I learned that monitors in the USA may not be available in Canada, or at least, not yet. Development for new monitors is often done in the USA. On a whim, I called one of the glucometer companies to get more info about a nicer meter thinking I would talk to my doctor and ask for a Rx for a new specific one, or just go buy a new one that I wanted. I expressed my concerns about the meter I was currently using and customer service asked me a lot of questions about my testing habits. The next thing I knew, they were sending me a new meter, one that would make me happier. (Recall, the money is not in the meter, its in the strips. I truly believe though these companies are trying to make things better for us.) Keep in mind, these companies do not do this willy-nilly. But what is wrong with this if it benefits both of us? Nothing. Nothing at all.

I love my current monitor and although I check at least yearly to see what else is out there, I probably won't change again.

There are already so many choices that unfortunately are made for us with diabetes. Ask for what you need or would like to have. Although 'no' is an acceptable answer on many things, I am of the mind that I'm going to make you tell me no rather than assume that's the answer. There may be many more 'yes' answers than you can ever imagine.

If you take away nothing else from this posting, take away that you have more choice about many things than you realize. Empower yourself and make some changes that will make your DLife more acceptable. And maybe even easier.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

My 'Are You Frickin Kidding Me' Rant

I am mad. Ranting mad. Bear with me if you can.

Ok, not only does this bug me to no end, it really p****s me off. Since 2013 there has been this march on to significantly slow down the amount of blood glucose testing people with Type 2 diabetes are doing.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/type2-diabetes-blood-sugar-overtesting-1.4157581

Here's what I know about the change in testing:
1. It's based on research.
2. It is evidence based.
3. It may be the best evidence but it's not always the best practice.

I'm going to repeat that. It's not always the best practice.

How can advising that testing less is a good practise? Oh the argument that strips are expensive is a valid one. They are. Do the powers that be not 'get' that for many of us however testing with those strips is what kept us off meds??? It's a whole lot cheaper to pay for strips based on what the person's needs are than 3-4 oral meds, insulin, insulin supplies, and the testing equipment on top of that. The cost, well, that's a discussion for another day.

If you're new to this blog, then I will restate my situation. I was diagnosed in November 2005 with Type 2 diabetes. I had a history with my last pregnancy of gestational diabetes 10 years before that.

My treatment: try to change my lifestyle, manage my carbs, get moving, test.

I managed my diabetes this way for 8 yrs. 8 yrs!

Was I testing often? Yes.
Was it too often? Apparently not. Eight years with diet, exercise AND TESTING!

Am I unique? Not by a long shot. IMHO, this type of advice undermines people's ability to make positive changes for their health. It does not enable people, it disables them. It invalidates those of us motivated to look after our health. People have capacity. Gee, how about we recognize that capacity and find ways to motivate for change? The health promoters and HCPs have found a way to motivate smokers to quit. Can those strategies be used to change lifestyle? Of course they can.

Diabetes is progressive. Testing can help prevent that progression or at the very least slow it down. How about we support that?

I am now signaling the end of this rant. At least for now.

Friday, 9 June 2017

I'm A Very Lucky Diabetic

I am. Very lucky. I am a PWD 2. Many would not say I was lucky. I am. Let me explain.

I have been engaging once in awhile in a weekly social media group on Twitter called Diabetes Social Media Advocacy @dsma. http://www.diabetescaf.org  I had never been involved in this type of online community before. The more I have engaged, the more I learn. I have learned that PWD 1 have a diabetes that is so complex, it boggles my mind. Further, I did not realize what parents of a child with Type 1 have to deal with. I had no idea. I wish I could say I understand what they live with daily but I cannot. These friends, these families, manage to stay so upbeat with all the changing struggles. I have so much respect for them. I wish there was an easy solution but there is not.

So when I think of my own diabetes, yes, I have had some struggles. There are times it has not been easy. But for me, diabetes in the bigger picture has been pretty simple. I have the ability to control my diabetes. I have power. I am rarely blindsided. I am so lucky.

So very lucky.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Exercise And Me

Hand me the whining towel. Probably not the best way to start a new post. Just want to forewarn that the post may start out on a negative note but I promise, I'll end it on a positive one. If you're brave, read on.

Exercise. Exercise sucks in my world.

I have a hate relationship with exercise.

Yes. My feelings are that strong.

It evokes several different feelings in me all at once: hate, fear, embarrassment, even shame.

Growing up, my brothers were athletic. I was not. I always had a sense that my dad was disappointed in me when it came to sports. It was a different time. Parents parented differently in those times. I'm sure he thought he could motivate me by his...encouragement...but today, not many parents would say the kind of things that were said back then.

School wasn't much better. I was heavier than my peers. I got made fun of a lot because I was heavy and slow, uncoordinated. I never put myself out there to compete with the more athletic kids. I had no wish to be their target. So I never tried sports. I was the last kid to get picked for teams in gym class. I always had hope but I was always the last pick. No wonder, I didn't have confidence.

High school next. I did phys ed only to get the credit in grade 9. My vision of myself was pretty poor even though I had slimmed down quite a bit. Not a chance was I doing sports. Nope. Not this girl.

Over the years I tried health clubs, spent a fortune a few times over, only to go for a short period of time, then quit. Memberships wasted. Ugh.

So where am I going with all this? Oh yes. I hate exercise. It really wasn't about school or friends or family or wasted monies. It was about exercise. The thing I detested most.

Then I found out I was diabetic in 2005. I found out the best medicine for me was diet and, oh flip...exercise. I'm done. I'm out.

My doctor suggested walking. Oh. I can probably manage that. Turns out, I LOVE WALKING!! AND IT'S EXERCISE! Who knew?

I have loved exercise ever since.

I said I'd end on a positive note. And I did.

Wisdom Over Politics

Realize, I'm Canadian. Our health care system is very different than the system in the USA. I'm not here to talk about the two syste...