This was originally posted to my blog, Diabetes Odyssey.
I’ve had a bad week. Lots of things have gone awry in my life (most pertaining to electronics) over the last several days. While in the midst of all this stress and aggravation I found myself realizing that the way I deal with stress and negative emotions has not changed.
First, several of our electronic devices around the house decided to give us trouble all at once. Then I had an occlusion (something blocking the cannula of my pump set) that caused my blood sugar to rise (600 at it’s highest, no ketones). I was dumb, angry, and bull-headed so of course I refused to change my set and just went with the high and injected bolus’ with my pen.
Obviously this cost me lots of insulin and I ran out of my emergency supply (of which I don’t keep a ton of) as well as my regular supply (of which was already low). So I called in a refill. I got a call back from the pharmacy the next morning (the day I needed to put in a new set…of which I should have done a day and a half earlier) telling me that my insurance is denying the refill because “it’s too early”. I asked if I could refill my pens, then. She informed me my pen prescription had been canceled and no longer existed.
I totally began to panic. I called my doctor’s office and explained the situation and asked for a new prescription allotting more insulin vials. The nurse assured me the request would be sent to my doctor. I made sure she knew this was an emergency and I needed the prescription TODAY. She assured me she understood.
Time passed, I got no calls from the pharmacy or my doctor’s office. The stress level was rising steadily with my blood sugar. What would I do if I couldn’t get the prescription? I can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for my insulin! I guess I could always buy some Novolin R, but that stuff sucks.It’s like buying Cheez Wiz instead of Provolone.
In the early afternoon I got a call from my doctor’s office. I was hoping it was news that the prescription was sent. No, it was questions to clarify exactly what I needed. Did I need pens or vials? How much insulin do I use in a day?
I always drop my jaw at that question, especially when it comes from a person who specializes in type 1 diabetes. “How much insulin do you use in a day?” Really?! How can you ask that? I hope you’re not asking for a solid number, because it changes massively from day to day depending on my activity level, food choices, caffeine intake, menstrual cycle, and a million other factors.
Once the need was clarified, I reminded the nurse how important it was that I get this prescription TODAY. She assured me the doctor knew of the urgency.
Hours passed. It was after four now. I broke under the pressure and stress. I paced the floor crying like a three year old who is exhausted but doesn’t want to go to bed. I cried myself out to the point where I could speak clearly and then I called the pharmacy. I asked if the prescription had gone through.
I felt like I was on the verge of hyperventilation.
Time passed. I was running through my head all my options. OK, we’ll have to go buy a vial of R and use it until my prescription goes through. What a waste of $25…
It was just about six o’clock when I got the glorious call from the pharmacy. “Your prescription is ready.”
Oh, thank goodness!
I got my blessed insulin. Let me take a moment here and say I hope any non-diabetics reading this can now get a feel and understanding of how very much we diabetics depend on insulin to stay alive. I wasn’t just stressed and upset because things got off the norm, I was truly frightened for my life. Insulin is my lifeline. We don’t just get sick without our insulin, we will die without it! Non-diabetics make their own insulin an don’t have to worry about running out and not being able to get their hands on it. Diabetics do have that worry. Diabetics in third world countries die everyday because they don’t have access to insulin.
In any case, you know what other dumb thing I did once all was better?
“I need chocolate.” I said to my husband. And I got it…and other comfort food. Lots of CARBOLICIOUS comfort food. I made use of that insulin. This is another habit of dealing with stress that has never changed but needs to.
So now that you know it all worked out, you might still have the question, “Why didn’t you just change your set as soon as you knew something was wrong?” The answer to that question is simple, reasonable, and also very, very dumb.
I spent seven years without insurance or money. In that time I had to make things last. I had to make my insulin last so I used as little as possible to stay alive (but very unhealthy). I had to make my syringes last, so I used the same one over and over for a month! They would get so dull I had to push hard to pierce my skin.
Once I got insurance and a bit better income, I had access to proper health care and prescription coverage and no longer had to worry about making things last. But the psychology of preservation is still there. So when I got the occlusion and knew I needed to change out my set, subconsciously I thought “don’t waste supplies!”
Yup, that’s it, that’s the dumb-■■■ reason I didn’t change my set.
Now it’s time for me to get back on track.