Today, Colleen is taking over my blog while I’m taking a few days off. And I love her introduction bio so much that I’m pasting it in without edits. Colleen is terrific, opinionated in a way I respect deeply, and today she’s talking about the importance of having access to a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) as she ages. Take it away, Colleen!
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I signed up for Medicare this year. Deep breath. (I’m having a really difficult time believing that I’m 65.)
I’m not using Medicare (yet) because I’m still working. I like my job. I like my insurance. I like my five minute commute. But mostly, I like my Dexcom CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor).
I always thought I’d be retired, lazing around, maybe playing some tennis.
Not really, I’m not lazy and I haven’t played tennis in a gazillion years. But, I really was looking forward to doing some volunteer stuff, especially working with kids who have learning difficulties. I’m a former Special Education teacher and I love seeing/helping kids to “get it.” Literally watching that invisible light bulb start shining when they would “get it.”
Instead, I’m working so that I can keep my Dexcom CGM.
Not to worry. I’m not suffering – I work as a church secretary, an absolutely delightful job!
Several years ago, when I started seeing a dermatologist, he explained that removing those things growing on me would be covered by my insurance because, “It’s covered by Medicare.” I was insulted and stated, “For heaven’s sake, I’m NOT on Medicare.” He then explained that if it was covered by Medicare, then insurance would pay for the procedure. “Oh…”
And now, turning 65 – my own light bulb has turned on. But it’s not going anywhere.
I remember talking with my primary care physician at an appointment once and saying how I work so hard to maximize my use of health insurance. I am careful to coordinate lab work with her and my endocrinologist. I keep up with scheduled appointments. I try very hard to be a wise consumer of health insurance. And she calmly replied, “You’re cheaper to Medicare if you’re dead.”
Well, that sucks.
Maybe – but – the cost of keeping me alive might be a sh**load more (Kerri said I could use bad words) [Editor's interjection: You can use all the words you'd like, Colleen.] without my CGM.
And I truly believe that soon – Medicare will figure out that the expense of a CGM is whole lot less than the expenses of ambulances and ER visits and hospitalizations.
There is no public transportation up here in the woods so, I have to drive.
I almost always (I’m being honest) (95% of the time!) check Dexcom before I drive anywhere. I frequently have to make short trips during the day for work and Dexcom has certainly kept me in my office/the parking lot sipping on juice before leaving.
I hate shopping. Yes, really. Shopping irritates me. Shopping and going low is really annoying. The nearest real mall is over an hour away and there have been times that I’m pulled over at an exit or a rest area because Dexcom beeped at me. More juice … (Not easy in the winter when it’s frozen. Yes, I have glucose tablets, also.)
We get a whole lot of snow up here on our hill. And it’s not plowed every hour on the hour. There are times we literally cannot get out (or in). I’ve checked with our local police to ask – what would happen if I needed an ambulance in the middle of a snowy night? The answer – They’d hike up our hill with a sled to get me out if needed. Scares the sh** out of me.
Way back when I was diagnosed, I knew I would want a pump. At that time, you had to have been on MDI (Multiple Daily Injections) for a couple of years before they (insurance) would even think about approving a pump. By the time I was ready to start pumping, it wasn’t that difficult.
Thank you to everyone who advocated for pumps for all of us who want one.
Way back when, Kerri was one of those people writing about her fight to get a Dexcom CGM – with letters and refusals and more letters and more proof and finally – Dexcom. By the time I was ready to start using a CGM (I always swore there was NO WAY – have you seen the needle in those things?), getting a CGM wasn’t as difficult. (That needle? Not an issue.)
Thank you to everyone who advocated for CGMs for all of us who want one.
And now – those of us who are and will be the d-elders need to be able to continue using or begin using CGMs for better health and safer living. And your help is needed. You’re not just helping the older d-people. You’re helping yourself. Because you know what? We’re all leading healthier lives even with Diabetes because we work hard to stay healthy. If a CGM helps, we should all have access to that.
How can you help?
JDRF makes it easy. Go here:
Help others, and help your future selves - and the children who will grow up – just by contacting a few of your state’s senators and representative.
It’s a win-win for all of us.
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From Colleen: “I’m Colleen and I have type 1 LADA – Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults. Diagnosed at the age of 55 (yes, really!), I was just a tad surprised. My husband and I live and work in New Hampshire and even enjoy the snowy winters. We could be retired but, the need for health insurance has us both working at a local church. Yes, together. Yes, we’re surprised. No, we haven’t killed each other, yet. Hope you’ll introduce yourself and it’s nice to meet you!”
Please say hello to Colleen, either on this post or at her blog, D-Meanderings. For more on the goal of covering CGMs for Medicare, check out these links:
- Making Sense of Medicare, CGMS, and Why It Matters (diaTribe)
- CGM Coverage by Medicare (JDRF)
- Ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Medicare CGM Access Act (DPAC)
- Persistence Triumphs: Getting Medicare to Cover my CGM (myGlu)
- Medicare’s Lackluster Diabetes Coverage… Let’s Make Some Noise! (Diabetes Mine)