Diabetes is so easy to manage!

I think that anyone who has actually dealt with diabetes can hear the sarcasm dripping from that title. Or they were shocked and wondered what kind of snake oil I was going to sell. No snake oil here!

We are back to the insurance company only wanting to cover 1 test strip per day. “102 every 90 days”. Part of having any semblance of control is knowing where you are at. How can anyone do that on ONE test strip per day? I shouldn’t have done this, but I gave up. I said I would just pay out of pocket for them. I know that this gives the insurance  company what they want, which is more money in their pocket, but come on!

To break it down again, my husband has double insurance coverage. Generally the secondary picks up any co-pays or costs that the primary did not pay for. So, 3 test strips a day, leaves a $50 co-pay for us, which the secondary was picking up. They refused to pick up the $50 co-pay for 4-6 strips per day. It didn’t cost them any more, but they still denied it. Now they are back to saying that they will only cover the 102 every 90  days. We tried to explain that he is type 1, because the 102/90 is what they pay for type 2, while they do 102/30 for type 1, but somehow it’s not getting through. I just need the darn test strips, ok?

We have started the process to get an insulin pump for my husband. This should be helpful in managing his diabetes, if the stress of the process doesn’t kill him first. We met with the doctor, who sent  the information to the pump supply, who contacted insurance. Insurance will not consider paying for the device until he does a blood test that shows the level of c-peptides in his body. A Type 1 diabetic has low or no c-peptides, while a type 2 could have normal peptides. From my research, it seems that they would require a person with normal or high peptides to control their diabetes through diet and exercise. Since my husband is type 1, this is  not going to happen. 45 years of medical records seem to make little difference.

There are two requirements for the test:

  • fasting after midnight
  • blood sugar below 150

The first night, I woke up shortly before midnight and checked his blood sugar. It was 82, so I had him drink some chocolate milk. I woke up again at 3, and it was 62, so he had more chocolate milk. He could not do the test because he was no longer “fasting after midnight”. Last night, I checked him at midnight and he was a little on the high side, so I woke him up and had him take a shot. He was still too high this morning for the test, so we will have another go at it tonight.

It’s really frustrating that I know other diabetics who have taken this test, but they were not required to have a blood sugar under 150. Generally, he is under 180 in the morning, but it is rare that he is under 150. Even if he was under 150, there is no guarantee that it won’t go up between  here and the doctor’s office and waiting to be called in for the lab. Or, it could go the opposite way, he could be under 150, but drop rapidly because he has been fasting since midnight.

We will do this. WE WILL. I am flabbergasted at the amount of frustration that a insurance company is willing to cause a diabetic. He wants a pump to have better control over his diabetes. He wants a pump to have more normal blood sugars. Making my husband meet a list of requirements, although short, makes him feel like a failure when he doesn’t meet them.

We would love your prayers for better results tonight. If he could get this part out of the way, I know he will feel victorious.

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Have You Tried Essential Oils?

Ahem. I might step on a few toes today. That is not my intent, but sometimes the suggestions given to my husband are crazy, even if they are well intentioned. Nobody likes to see a friend or a loved one suffer from a disease that *might* be cured or managed. My husband has heard some zingers. These are a few of the suggestions he has heard from others regarding his diabetes and the reason(s) why he is not/ has not/ will not try(ing) them.

1. Have you tried essential oils? No. His doctor doesn’t really recommend essential oils has a viable method of controlling his diabetes.

2. I heard that okra in water will cure diabetes. No. I think if this worked, we would all know about it and there would be an okra shortage. (Source: http://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/2014/03/why-okra-will-not-cure-your-diabetes/)

3. If you just had more faith, your diabetes would be cured. Do I believe that God COULD cure diabetes? Yes, but so far He hasn’t. My husband said that he was approached at a family wedding by an aunt who thought she could cure him with her faith. This many years later, he’s still diabetic. This has become an inside joke for us though. When his blood sugars are whacked, I tell him to get “in the word”. I’ve heard it’s a cure for all that ails ya. (Don’t hate us, we’re believers. We also think we are funny)

4. Medifast.  I can’t tell you how many times Medifast has been recommended for my husband for weight loss and diabetes control. I have seen Medifast work wonders for some people. I am not discounting that it’s a great product for some people; however when we looked into it we were told that my husband needed to check with his health care provider before starting this program. In fact, straight from here is this: If you have type 1 diabetes, it is essential to discuss Medifast with your health care provider or diabetes specialist before you start any of our plans for weight loss. He has been seeing the same doctor for 15 years. He has a good relationship with him. He asked him about Medifast. His doctor said that he did not think this was a good option for my husband. Rather than leave the people hanging that had recommended this to us, I politely informed them that his doctor did not recommend this route. These were the responses:

  • “What? Really? I have never had a doctor say no before” (There’s a first time for everything?)
  • “He obviously doesn’t understand what it is. Let me give you information to take with you next time. In fact, do you want me to come with you?” (no)
  • “That’s weird. Our doctor said it was okay for my diabetes.” (ok)
  • “Why would he say no? That doesn’t even make sense!” (none of your business)
  • “If his doctor said no, he has a good reason. Honestly, I sell it and wouldn’t recommend it for your husband.” (smile)

5. What about an insulin pump? Yes. Yes. Yes! We have looked into this before, but at the time, the cost was prohibitive. Now my husband has double coverage. I just checked his benefits and BOTH insurances cover the insulin pump! He has had some major medical expenses in the past two years and our out of pocket costs have been minimal. It looks like this will be the case for the pump. He has an appointment with his doctor soon and we will be asking about this again!

Did I step on your toes? I hope not, but when you are a diabetic (I am not) you have heard it all…. for the most part. To keep our patience, we try to remember that people are just trying to help because they care. It’s actually the people who are offended that we are not taking their suggestion that test our patience. We have learned to say “Thank you” rather than give the reason why what they said will not work for him. If you are diabetic, what are some helpful/ unhelpful things you have heard to cure or manage your diabetes? 

ETA: Out of all these things, the only one he has tried is prayer, although he isn’t praying that he’s cured. He’s praying that he manages well. So he can’t say without a doubt that none of these will work to manage his diabetes. 🙂

P.S. in an earlier post I talked about how my husband’s insurance only wanted to cover 100 test strips a month. We talked to a different pharmacist the last time we filled his test strips and she knew the work around/ coding needed for insurance. They just needed to know that he had a condition that required the test strips, because people like to fake diabetes, you know. 

Let’s Grab a Bite to Eat

I prepare, shop for and cook meals approximately a bazillion times a month. There are some days that I just don’t want to do it again.

Or

There are times we are out and about. We didn’t plan very well and someone gets hungry and/or my husband needs to eat because he can feel his blood sugar dropping.

So let’s grab a bite to eat!! A burger, some fries, a soda! Yum.

If only it were that easy for my husband, a type 1 diabetic. It’s easy to grab a bite. It’s more difficult to figure out how many carbs are in a meal so he can dose properly for it. Fortunately with smart phones and web sites, the nutrition info is usually right at our finger tips. I have the mad Googling skillz yo!

I’m going to be completely honest here. My husband and I were blown away, flabbergasted, and shocked at the nutrition info for a lot of meals. One glass of regular soda at Shari’s had 48 carbs. 48! If my husband were to drink that, he would need to take 6 additional units of insulin. (he always orders diet, but recently we went to Shari’s and our totally distracted waitress brought him a regular soda and not diet. And this is how we know how many carbs are in a regular soda)

Typically, a meal from a restaurant has more than DOUBLE the carbs of a meal I prepare at home. And do you want to talk about the calories? My husband’s employer often orders lunch for everybody. We looked up the menu online and an order of a burger and fries had 1800 calories! This is how many calories it is recommended that my husband eats per day. IN ONE MEAL!

I can’t even imagine the people who don’t need to know the nutritional info. Downing 3 or 4 sodas because they are unlimited. UGH!

When my husband orders a meal now, he immediately asks for a to go box and splits his meal in half. He only eats half and saves the rest for his next day’s lunch. Meals at home are typically 30-45 carbs, Meals in a restaurant, or the meals he likes, are typically 90. Splitting his meals in two reduces the amount of insulin he takes, and carbs and calories he consumes.

We are also attempting to be proactive. His employer orders from the same restaurants frequently. We are looking up meals and noting how many carbs are in what he orders. This way he never has to guess at the last minute how many carbs he is about to consume. He has proven time and again that diabetes and guessing just don’t play well together.

In summary, grabbing a bite to eat is just not that easy for a diabetic. And there are more calories and carbs in that bite to eat than you realize. (UGH!)

Do you eat out a lot? Do you know how many calories or carbs are in the meals you eat? 

As a side note, I was so disgusted when the next city over from us started posting the calorie count of items on their menus. I never ordered a milkshake again. 😦

Diabetes: Must Be Mathematically Proficient

If there is something most of my family does not enjoy, it’s math. Unless it has to do with adding and subtracting their spending money. Of course they are all over that!

It makes it interesting that the treatment and care of diabetes includes SO. MANY. NUMBERS.

There’s carbs. “How many carbs are in this?”

And blood sugar “What is my current blood sugar? What do I need my blood sugar to be?”

And insulin, oh my. “How many units of this do I need to take?”

My dear, overly sweet (hence the diabetes? He’s so sweet, he’s diabetic. HA) husband doesn’t like to think about it. His mind shuts off after adding up the carbs. Then he just takes a stab at it. “This looks like 10 units of insulin.”. Boom.

It never quite works out as well as he hopes it will. He either under doses and ends up feeling miserable from a high blood sugar, or he over doses and ends up feeling miserable from a low blood sugar.

“This one is too much, this one is too little…. this one is just right!”

This is the formula we use for dosing his insulin:

(Current blood sugar – target blood sugar)/amount glucose drops with each unit + (number of carbs/carbs per unit) = insulin dosage

That doesn’t sound complicated at all, right? I have to write this stuff down, because it’s more like this:

Carbs in meal (cottage cheese + fruit + salad/ dressing/ toppings + main course)

Take blood sugar. “Hon, how many carbs did you say were in the meal?”

“Hold on! I’ll add it up again.” Weigh, add, calculate.

“Shoot. I already forgot what my blood sugar was.” Checks monitor again. “Okay, I am _____ now, I want to be _____. I need it to drop 35 units, and I have to dose for my meal, and crap, 10! 10 is good.”

Then there is me. “No, hold on, I got this. You should actually take 6”.

Diabetes is a math nightmare. So, kids, if you are sitting in math class, rolling your eyes, thinking “When will I ever use this????”, remember

DIABETES.

(Although I hope it never happens to you)