The Angry Type 2 Diabetic: December 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Don't Restrict Test Strips for People with Type 2 Diabetes

My fasting glucose at diagnosis,
versus currently.
All around us there are people who are struggling or living with challenging health conditions or diseases. Some are very visual, and apparent, and some are not. For those with apparent health conditions or diseases, we feel an immediate sense of empathy. However, it is not so easy for us to empathize with those whose needs we cannot openly see. We may assume a person is exaggerating (they really don't have it that bad), is being 'wimpy' (they should just shut up and 'deal with it'), or is simply lying.

Type 2 diabetes is one of these misunderstood diseases; it is a hidden illness and people with hidden illnesses often end up being judged as if they had no needs, or should be restricted in needs. These attitudes often end up in discrimination, particularly from employers, health insurance companies, and some health care providers and agencies. The problem becomes compounded because type 2 diabetes is also a silent disease. It is a disease which can remain silent (not showing very many outward signs of its presence) for many years, even decades. Hence, many people will often ignore their condition because they feel fine and healthy, and the condition does not seem real to them. Because there is NOTHING telling them they are sick, they feel a certain sense of invincibility... until they get their blood glucose level tested with a finger prick.  Persons with type 2 diabetes must check their blood glucose levels regularly if they are to be kept constantly aware that they a.) have a serious medical condition, and b.) that they need to adjust their food intake according to what their glucose levels are. A person with type 2 diabetes needs to be able to eat 'to their meter' in order to be able to manage their disease.

If the medical establishment (who are constantly preaching on the diabetes 'pandemic,' and how serious this matter is, and how the condition is costing our governments, worldwide, billions of dollars) had any inkling of the issue at hand, or indeed, if they believed their own warnings, they would realize that in order to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and to control the health of those with current type 2 diabetes diagnoses, we need...

  • Educated clinicians: Clinicians who are not trivializing the condition to their patients, but which strive to understand the condition, its potential risks and dangers, and who are committed to empowering their patients and properly educating them as to what the condition is; and
  • Access to Proper Tools and Medicines: Sufficient glucose testing strips to make appropriate nutritional decisions, from day to day, to help control glucose levels, as well as access to necessary medications -- including insulin. 
How do we expect to control already diagnosed type 2 diabetes, in patients, if we will not allow patients to have an adequate amount of testing strips? Yes -- a testing strip should not just be a tool that is used to avert immediate danger (an extreme high, or an extreme low level of glucose.) A test strip is also a rudder to help a patient know to make the best, and most appropriate meal decisions, because we never know just how much glucose we have in our bodies at any given time. You can't just tell us to go eat whole wheat, grains, and fruit, and call it a day. I am sorry, medical establishment... Diabetes doesn't work that way. I have the RIGHT to know what my blood glucose is doing, and to be able to make educated decisions on what to eat, as to to reduce the risk of the potential long term complications of high blood glucose. It is my right, as a patient! You preach about the costs of diabetes, but something tells me you really do not understand how the game works. You see -- no one complains about the high cost of performing 3,000 mile oil changes on their vehicles; instead, they understand that if these are not performed, instead of paying $19.95 for an oil change, they'll end up paying over $1,000 for a new engine. But clinicians and insurance companies are practically telling people with diabetes that they'd rather they pay $1,000 for a new engine, than $19.95 for an oil change. I mean, isn't it cheaper, long term, to pay for some strips than to, oh, I don't know... have to pay for someone's dialysis, new organs, eye procedures, or amputations? 

Where is the common sense in the medical establishment, right now? I want to KNOW. I am SICKENED that people with type 2 diabetes who are on Medicaid  in Oregon, right now, are close to being severely restricted on their glucose test strip usage. According to diaTribe
Currently, the OHP provides 100 test strips every 90 days, but a new plan would severely restrict access to strips for type 2 patients unless they are newly diagnosed, take insulin, or meet a few other special requirements. For people not taking insulin – which covers the vast majority, about 70% of all type 2 patients – those with an A1c above 8.0% would be entitled to one test strip per week, while those with an A1c below 8.0% would not be provided with any test strips at all.
This is obscene!! One test strip a week tells NOTHING to a patient with type 2 diabetes! Tests need to be done in pairs so that we can see the cause and effect of things like meals, exercise, illness or periods, or even overnight sleep. Patients with type 2 diabetes are practically being PUNISHED for having good control, and being told that their health is not important enough to merit an educated management of their disease. Besides that, patients are supposed to work hard to keep an A1C which is at or below 6.5%. Telling a person that they will only get strips if they have higher A1C levels is not only not a good recommendation, but it is also unconscionable. It is the testing that keeps me at a lower A1C! I'm not psychic, for crying out loud. As of yet, there is no magical Glucose Level 8-Ball.

We need to stand together as a type 2 community against these kinds of things, or we will continue to be bullied by the medical establishment. If we are to stem the tide of unfortunate complications, and type 2 diabetes diagnoses, then we need to stand up for our rights as patients. We DESERVE education, quality treatment, tools, and medications, to manage our condition and lead healthy lives.

Really... whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?


We have very little time... Please sign the petition, here: Don't Restrict Test Strips for People with Diabetes.