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Missing Meter.

The initial search through my bag was kind of nonchalant.  “Where is my meter bag?”  Bright pink with a smiling bear on one side, it’s a hard bag to misplace, even in the seemingly unending abyss of my purse.

But the flurry of leaving the house that morning to catch an early flight left me mentally snowed-in.  I brought it with me, right?  I know I checked my blood sugar that morning, and I had a clear memory (didn’t I?) of pricking my finger on the plane after we had reached cruising altitude, so where the hell was my glucose meter?  I had it just a few hours ago?

“Where is my glucose meter?”

The search went from casual to frantic in a matter of minutes, when I realized that my meter bag was nowhere to be found.  Not in my suitcase, not in my book bag, not in the rental car.  No memory of where the hell it could be, and all the moments I’ve ever checked my blood sugar on a plane were melting together.  Did that happen today, or had I been working off info from my CGM graph all day long?

Just as Chris and I confirmed that my meter was, indeed, MIA, my Dexcom sensor alarm went off, warning me that my sensor was going to die in two hours.  And the “low battery” alarm went off a few minutes later on my pump, reminding me that it needed a new battery.

“Everything is breaking and I’m an idiot.  I’ve never, ever left my glucose meter behind before.  Ever!  On so many of my trips, I’ve packed an extra meter, but even on the trips where I didn’t, I still didn’t lose my meter!  I’ve never lost my glucose meter before, in like three decades with diabetes.”  I was rambling, but frustrated.  The device I needed most to properly dose the drug I needed most?  Missing.  Data crucial to my safe survival?  Inaccessible without purchasing a backup system.

(And, as luck would have it, I had just refilled my meter bag with a brand new bottle of 50 test strips and a fresh AA battery for my pump.  Reminded me of the time I replaced my car’s exhaust system, filed the tank up with gas, and then proceeded to total the car.)

Thankfully, finding a pharmacy that sold the brand of glucose meter I had strips at home for was easy enough.  (I didn’t want to have to replace the meter, again, when I got home.)  And thankfully, we have the means to purchase a meter and a bottle of test strips without insurance coverage.  But holy shit, I was shocked to see the sticker price for a bottle of 25 test strips.

“Forty five dollars?  For 25 test strips?  That’s bananas!”  I said the pharmacist.  “How do people afford these things without insurance coverage?”

She shrugged.  “They don’t.  They buy the CVS brand and the strips that go with that one.  Most people don’t pay for the top tier strips out of pocket.”

“But the accuracy is …”

“It’s what it is,” she said.  She finished ringing up the meter and strips (and AA batteries for the pump), bringing my grand total up over $100.  For a meter, 25 test strips, and batteries.

“This is the price for maintenance,” I said to Chris.  “For the stuff that keeps me healthy.  I can’t imagine what the cost would be to do more than “maintain.'”

After reuniting with a glucose meter, our trip continued on without issue.  But throughout the rest of the week, I thought about having access, and having the financial means to replace things I accidentally lose, and being grateful.  I thought about the Spare a Rose campaign and how far $5 goes.

This holiday season, I’m more grateful than ever for more things than I realized.

(And when we came home on Friday evening and I went into the bathroom, I saw my glucose meter sitting on the bathroom counter, halfway hidden underneath a hand towel.  Never again!)


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deb #

    We have a family friend who moved to our state and whose Medicaid coverage got screwed up in the process. She couldn’t afford to buy a vial of Lantus and syringes to cover her until Monday when she could go to the welfare office and get things fixed. We’re not wealthy by any means, but we have insurance coverage for my son’s insulin, so we gave her a vial and some syringes to tide her over. She was so grateful! And this is why I donate to Spare a Rose… Because, if this sort of stuff happens in America, think of how it is for so many around the world.

    12/22/14; 11:54 am
  2. This is more common than I think many of us realize, especially those online so much in the DOC. It seems we care more about accuracy than a lot of people, and really it’s a different standard than many in the D-Community hold for their devices and strips. I think that’s an interesting and often un-discussed point: We tend to be in the loop and care about these things at a level that maybe isn’t the norm, and for most people it’s going to come down to cost and even other conveniences in design. And for the many, a little better accuracy isn’t worth the higher cost or less-appealing looks of a meter/strip.

    12/22/14; 12:04 pm
    • Really good point, Mike. Again, the bubble of the DOC is highlighted.

      12/22/14; 1:43 pm
  3. I am thankful for my insurance, technology and access every day. When I was first diagnosed, my insurance coverage was next to nothing, my husband and I had just started our jobs and his insurance benefits hadn’t started yet and I was still on a really crappy college student plan. We couldn’t afford the strips for the brand-name meter provided by the hospital and we definitely couldn’t afford the hospitalization.

    I bought the store brand meter and really cheap strips just so that I could test. We were very lucky that period time in our lives was short and that the hospital would accept small payment installments over a long period of time.

    12/22/14; 2:15 pm
  4. mrs corn #

    I was diagnosed with t1d on may 13, 2013. I knew somewhat of the expense of diabetes from the years of my mom having type 2. I spent a few days in the hospital, learning to test and count carbs and dose insulin. From the hospital, my hubby and 2 kiddos and i went to buy insulin. 500$ for a single month supply of one kind of insulin and 300 for the second. I sat down on the bench and told my children then 5 and 7, and my husband goodbye. There is no way we could afford that cost. The 25$ a month for 70/30 plus the strips was a stretch for us. No insurance and making barely above minimum wage.
    The reality is this, when you cant afford insurance or your insurance doesnt offer great coverage or your copay is stupid, you have to choose, you choose to a, shell out money you dont have to get the “good stuff” or b, you go as cheap as you can and live as best you can . Simple as that.

    12/22/14; 2:24 pm
  5. Kathy W. #

    And even with insurance, it may be impossible to buy all but one brand of test strips, as well as some insulins, as in this list of 2014 exclusions that apply to many major insurers:

    12/22/14; 3:31 pm
  6. Stacie #

    Been there, done that….San Francisco. But I went the cheap route for two days and purchased the Walgreens brand. I also dropped my insulin in a tile bathroom and it broke….(different trip)…after managing to stop hyperventilating and getting a vial called to a local CVS it was still a $300 oopsies. Geeeeeez………not a cheap (or convenient) disease.

    01/3/15; 6:06 pm
  7. On one of the Medtronic summits I left the only meter I brought with me under the bed in the hotel room on the day of my departure to return home. I got to the airport to find out that my flight was canceled. The airline put me up in a hotel by the airport but (of course) the gift shop didn’t have a meter. I had the concierge call a cab to take me to the nearest pharmacy and I had him wait while I purchased the cheapest meter I could find. Did I mention this all happened on April Fool’s Day?

    Mike makes an interesting point that I don’t think we focus on enough on the actual cost of accuracy.

    01/4/15; 1:58 am

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