Aint No Mountain High Enough

I’m a bit discouraged today.

This one’s a long story, FYI.

A few years back, there was a month or two when I didn’t have health insurance. As I’m sure a lot of you know, it’s extremely frustrating and challenging, to say the least. I had a 507C Minimed pump and had loaded up on all of my supplies; ie: test strips, pump supplies, insulin, etc. I knew I was going to be out of insurance while I made my move from one job to another (and headed up to Oregon from southern CA). A few weeks before I moved to Portland, the face of my 507C pump cracked and I was unable to read any screen that tried to come up, to do boluses and what-not.

GREAT! =) I was skrewed! I had no health insurance and my pump was totally out of warranty, so getting a new pump was out of the question. Then on one of my last days at work in soCA, I explained the situation to a diabetic buddy of mine, AJ, and he said he would totally give me his old pump. He had switched to the new Paradigm pump which used different infusion sets and what not. But the old pump he had, Minimed 508, used the same infusion sets that I had stocked up on! So my sweet and generous friend, AJ, gave me his old, but still working, insulin pump. He saved my life, I swear. =)

So it’s 2 years later…I’m living up here in Oregon, left my previous job (I worked at an adult care home for patients on ventilators and feeding tubes…) because I felt a patient was being overmedicated and my boss completely over looked it. And in return I was treated and accused of doing things I simply did NOT do! Anywho…

As some of you know, I’m w/o health insurance, thankfully have a bunch of pump supplies stocked up, but paying for Humolog and/or Novolog insulin, out of pocket, is outrageously expensive. And so I’ve asked my old doctor, with Kaiser, for his assistance in signing the patient assistance program with NorvoNordisk. He emailed me and said that in the mean time I can purchase and use “R” insulin for my pump, but that it has slower reaction time then Novolog.

I went to Walmart, purchased a bottle for about $20, came home and changed my infusion site with the new “R” insulin.

My pump goes on crack.

It STOPS working. Every time I press the select button it shuts off, restarts, and for a half an hour I sat there trying to give myself a bolus for dinner. I was really hesitant to call Minimed b/c I knew that the pump AJ gave me hadn’t be “properly” (or even if he was allowed to) transfer it to me. But I called anyway, because the pump had shut down completely, and reset all my basal settings and what-not.

I talked with the very sweet girl at Minimed and she informed me that what the pump was doing was not surprising, given it’s old age…and that I needed a replacement pump. I needed AJ to formally fax to them a letter stating that he was donating his old pump to me, and it would be from then on for 6 months that it’d be under warranty and they’d be able to send me out a “new” 508 pump. But b/c I don’t have health insurance right now, actually getting a new pump would be pretty much impossible to do. I need a doc’s RX for one, and then I’d basically be paying $5000.00 out of pocket, on a payment plan. Soooo, no thanks.

With my blood sugar now at 505 (ahhh, hasn’t been that high in a long time!), it occurred to me to do a shot! (duh, right?!) It didn’t even cross my mind. So I did a shot of the “Regular” insulin and just waited, drank lots and lots of h2o to get that sugar down. Mean while…the girl from Minimed had me take out the batteries from the pump and clean the little screws that connect the batteries to the pump’s computer. And so I did. I finally got the pump to turn back on and stay consistent with my basal rate. As long as I didn’t touch the buttons, nothing was shutting off.

So I’ll be doing shots as I eat meals with carbs, but keeping the pump in. I guess that’s all I CAN do until I get a flippin’ JOB! The one job I’m looking at has a 90-day period before benefits are introduced. It’s so messed up! So frustrating. I spent the entire night with my blood sugar above 350 and ended up canceling an interview b/c I was in such bad shape in the morning. The guy was really cool about it. I just said I had a medical emergency I had to take care of. So we’ve rescheduled for next week.

After more then 12 hours of crazy-■■■ blood sugars, I finally got it down to 156. And haven’t had any carbs today. I need to live light on carbs anyway. Maybe this will just be the jump start I need. I have a bottle of Lantus in the fridge, but have no idea how to use it. And I can’t exactly call doc at Kaiser, b/c I’m don’t exactly have a membership with them anymore.

sigh Man, that feels good to get out. It’s these days that make living with diabetes a beyatch. =) I know everything happens for a reason, I do. But there are someday I could really use a “get out of jail free” card and wave it around, “please!? please…”. But all of these mountains to climb make me a stronger person. You live and learn, right?

Thanks for listening, friends,

Please look up free clinics in your area. Surely, Portland must have at least 1. Hope you can hook up with some help this way. Someone to tell you what your lantus dose should be. I live in a town of 8,000 and we even have a clinic for those that aren’t able to pay. Good luck. Don’t forget about food banks and soup kitchens. I know what it is like not to be able to afford much if anything. I’m here in Montana, wishing you the best.

If I lived closer to you, I would invite you over for dinner and a bottle of insulin.

Sorry to hear about all of these frustrating experiences!
If the pump keeps giving you trouble, it might be better to just switch to injections until you can get a new pump (can you get it replaced under the 6 month warranty???).
If you have Lantus, here is what I have done when switching back to Lantus.
Calculate how much you need per pay for bolus. The number of units of Lantus that you take should be about the same as the number of units of Novolog that you get as basal through the pump per day. So figure what the total number of basal units are.

But if you disconnect the pump, then 1-2 hours later, you should take your first Lantus injection. In my experience, Lantus works much better if you split the dose (one in morning, one in evening, for example). If you want to do this, then write me as I have done the switch back and forth a few times!

Hope that this helps!!!

How’s it going over there? Are you doing okay? Just thinking of you.