Recently, I wrote about how I discovered that my medical insurance only covered about $1,000 of Diabetes medical equipment. This means that in a calendar year, my insurance will only cover three to four months worth of reservoirs, infusion sets and CGM. Basically, anything tangible that isn’t medication. Towards the end of November, I made the decision to save a few bucks by burning through my stocked supplies by using my extra Freestyle Libre sensors, even if they don’t communicate with my insulin pump and won’t make micro adjustments. this means that I spend much less time “in range.”
Despite the handiness of the Freestyle Libre, I’ve come to realize over the past month that I’m dependent on CGM and the SmartGuard system. Having a programmed insulin pump that regulates my insulin and blood sugar levels for the majority of my day and keeps me within a healthy range is something that I’ve gotten far too used to and that I’ve also taken for granted. I finally knuckled under last week and paid out of pocket for a box of CGM sensors so that I could start back on SmartGuard and have the pump take over management of my blood sugars.
In some ways, a lot of ways, I’m disappointed in myself. I’ve only been on an insulin pump for about six years and on CGM for about two years. Prior to that, I managed my blood sugars and kept myself alive through my own, direct, hands-on efforts. So it catches me a bit by surprise and disappoints me that I’ve become so dependent on a piece of technology to keep the groove going. But I’ve noticed something important during the four to five weeks I’ve been without CGM; I have been feeling like absolute, unfiltered shit. And it’s lead me to ask an important question: Is this what Diabetics always feel like?
I should probably explain. I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes when I was only 4-years old. During the first five to six years, I suffered through all the typical complications that one would assume; hyper and hypoglycemic episodes, mood swing, Diabetic Keto-acidosis and even living through a few comas, one that lasted almost a week. Luckily for me, I suffered no brain damage from any of these (at least that I know of) and by the time I reached the age of 10, I took control of my own health and Diabetes and joined karate. This was the turning point that would ultimately save my life and bring my health to the forefront of my daily routine.
The bottom line is that since the age of 10 when I took control of my own destiny, I’ve struggled and fought my way through a number of obstacles in the past three decades. But the reality is that I’ve had it pretty smooth. I had the benefit of staying in good health, clean nervous system, clean cardiac system and I still have all of my toes and appendages. I’m afraid I can’t say the same of all the Diabetics I know. But how I’ve been feeling recently since coming off of CGM, I’ve come to understand how fragile the balance I’ve built has actually been
Compulsive sweats, varied teeter-tottering from low to high blood sugars and the opposite, lack of sleep, restless legs and random pains, twitches and mood swings… It all sounds a little too much like my teen years. And we all know how much of a bastard I was back then! Well, most of you likely don’t know, since you weren’t there. But I’m sure that any readers who remember me from my childhood could attest to the fact that I wasn’t QUITE as pleasant as I am now. Yes, I’m tooting my horn. Just let me have it…
My point is that I’ve been through the Diabetic trenches and came out better than most. Some of it was determination, some was competent doctors and some of it was sheer force of will, refusing to let my life be forfeit without some attempt at control. And of course, some of it was basically dumb luck. Back then, if you’d asked me if I felt worse than the average person, I would have said no. Because I didn’t know better. As the years have melted away, treatments and how I live my life have continued to grow and improve.
Because of these improvements, my quality of life has continued to improve and once I came to be on the insulin pump, my life changed for the better. Once I included CGM, it became even better still as I enjoyed the benefits of the best A1C readings I’ve had in over 20 years. But all of that came crashing back down and I lost it all as I came off of SmartGuard and CGM. As some of you may have read in previous posts, I often make a point of being pretty harsh against the use of modern technology, despite the fact that some of it is keeping me alive. But I will humbly admit and agree… CGM and SmartGuard makes a measurable difference in the life of a Type-1 Diabetic.
I’ve been back on the Guardian 3 Sensor and SmartGuard for almost a week now, and have been enjoying stable blood sugars, better sleep and improved health. I essentially no longer feel like shit. And that’s saying quite a bit. I’m a firm advocate that all things happen for a reason. As much as it pisses me off that a newly-joined health plan doesn’t cover the very equipment that’s keeping me alive, I think that it’s taught me a very important lesson about my Diabetes care and how I approach it. Ignoring technology and its advancements is no longer an option. ☯️