By: Meagan Esler
Recently while I was out shopping with my sister, I tested my blood sugar and found that I had a high reading of 217. Because I had just downed a non-fat pumpkin spice latte and still had active insulin in my bloodstream, I skipped correcting it with an insulin shot and went on trying on clothing and chatting with my sister. When I got to my car afterward, I realized that I felt a little like I was drunk, so I figured that I’d better test my blood sugar again. It was 58.
As I sat in my car chomping on glucose tabs, I realized how many test strips I’d gone through that day, and I began to get mad. I had already used up the allowance per day that my insurance company had declared acceptable, and it was only one in the afternoon!
A few days before, when I refilled my test strips at the pharmacy, the staff told me that I was only supposed to test three to four times a day. I quickly reminded them that I have type 1 diabetes and take insulin shots more often than that every single day. When I told them that I typically test around eight times a day, they said they’d call the doctor’s office to try to get more. They phoned later to reassure me that I could return and pick up the additional strips.
I returned to the pharmacy a couple days later, and they gave me enough test strips to test three to four times a day! When I explained, again, the error to the pharmacy staff, they informed me that while they remembered calling for approval, the computer still showed that I could only get the lesser amount, per my insurance. I was finally able to get it all straightened out by arguing, but I was puzzled as to why the insurance company would dangerously limit the strips in the first place.
I recently had an A1C test, and I was crushed to find that even after all the hard work I’ve been doing, my A1C had gone up a bit. I explained to the doctor just how upsetting it is that my test strips are so limited: How does the insurance company expect someone to have tight control and successfully lower her A1C if she hardly knows where her blood sugars are all day?
I demanded more test strips, and thankfully I got them, at least until the next refill. Just seeing that drop in my blood sugar as I shopped for an hour proves to me just how much I need each and every one of those precious little test strips. I’ve seen far too many friends with diabetes and parents of children with diabetes having to fight for test strips lately, and it infuriates me. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t they be begging us to take good care of ourselves and test more? Rationing test strips shouldn’t be a part of our diabetes management. We must be able to test enough to stay safe and healthy.