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!)