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July 03, 2007

SiCKO

SiCKOWe saw it last night - SiCKO.  And I have to admit - I walked out feeling a bit tangled.

Michael Moore gets people talking.  You don't have to like him and you can call him "un-American."  You can hate his films.  You can love his films.  The fact of the matter is that his films start discussions, and these discussions are necessary.

That disclaimer tossed out there, the film generated a big "sigh" from me.  The first half of it, showing images of people working three jobs to cover their healthcare expenses, negotiating "which finger to reattach" after an accidental amputation based on what a patient can afford, and the stress of making sense of insurance denials.  This portion resonated for me on several levels.  The battles faced not by someone without health insurance but by the Americans who have it.

I thought about my own insurance battles.  Like the hoops I had to jump through to have my insulin pump covered as a "medical necessity."  Or when insurance companies told me that "four test strips a day is enough for a type 1 diabetic," not taking into account any hypoglycemic unawareness, jaunts to the gym, or the need to know if I'm steady before going to bed.   I thought about the pump infusion sets I've used for more than their prescribed length because I couldn't afford the copays for an extra box of sets.  The phone calls to insurance representatives that include phrases like, "Um, I need it to live," and "I can't believe you're telling me, a diabetic, that testing my blood sugar isn't necessary."

Michael Moore makes several talking points that Chris and I talked about for the rest of the night.  Moments in the film where Moore illustrates how keeping a society blanketed in debt makes them more dedicated (desperate?) members of the workforce.  This was disturbing to me, as I thought about people I knew who worked 70 hour work weeks at incredibly trying jobs, just so that they can have medical insurance. 

The part of this film that I didn't like was Moore's blinders-on view of universal health care.  No system is perfect.  He made it seem as though after the film finished, I needed to grab my passport and go ex-Pat, heading off to France or Britain or even hopping the border to Canada.  I do think that countries practicing preventative care vs. acute care are far smarter than the reactive United States, but I don't want to pack my bags and trot off to France.  I would rather help change to happen within our own borders and take measures to fix a problem instead of abandoning it.  Aren't we a force to be reckoned with, the blogosphere?  Aren't we some of the voices that Big Pharma thinks about nervously, right before they fall asleep at night?

(Whoa, Kerri.  A bit idealistic today.  Don't you want to go to France?  They have unlimited sick days.  And government employees who do your laundry.  Stop humming "The Greatest Love of All ...")

I'm fine with doing my own laundry.  I'm fine with working hard and earning my medical insurance.  But I'm not fine with being told that my medicine isn't "covered" or "necessary" or that insurance companies would rather pay for my dialysis vs. my insulin pump.  Preventative care is what protects people with diabetes, keeping our potential diabetes-related complications quiet longer.  Being plucked for every cent we earn, or worse denied, for that preventative care is cruel.

Go see this movie.  See what gnaws at you. 

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July 02, 2007

All or Nothing.

Saturday afternoon, I removed the Dexcom sensor. 

For the record, that Dexcom is worth the design flaws and I was very impressed with the results.  (More on that later.)  But also for the record, pulling out the sensor was extremely painful - that adhesive is intense!  I had to use a damp cloth around the sticky gauzey bits to help alleviate that "peeling my skin from my body" feeling.   Why didn't I apply a new sensor?  Due to the upcoming July 4th holiday and the white-water rafting trip this weekend, I didn't feel comfortable toting around an additional gizmo that couldn't get wet.  So off it came, to be reintegrated next week.

Saturday night, I removed my insulin pump.

I decided to take a "pump vacation" for the rafting trip, based on my insecurity about being able toLantus in lieu of my pump. properly protect it and my fear of it being busted on the excursion.  (I thought a lot about the advice to order a back-up pump, use the AquaPack, etc. but I had to go with my gut on this one.)   So late Saturday night, I disconnected my pump and took my first shot of Lantus in almost four years.

I was at Batman's house, spending the night before I headed up to Boston to retrieve Chris (yay!) from the airport.  

"Ah, the red ladybug bag!"  Batman exclaimed.  (It was a Clinique "free gift" from several years ago - a red circular zippered case that was plastic and held my insulin bottles when I was on injections.)  "I remember that thing!  I also remember when you went on the pump in the first place.  Is this weird?"

"Definitely."  I uncapped the syringe with my teeth and put the needle tip into the new bottle of Lantus, drawing back 16 units.  "This is completely bizarre.  But it's only for a week.  Just until Sunday night."

It's been two days without it and I'm feeling pretty good.  I am back on my old dose of Lantus (15 1/2 units at 10 o'clock at night) and I'm bolusing with an insulin pen.  Between you and I (and the entire internet), I miss my pump and I feel like I'm walking around naked, but this brief vacation is just that:  brief.  Blood sugars have been closely monitored and in a holding pattern of about 150 mg/dl, which is higher than I shoot for but I'm happy to have them steady instead of bouncing.

This is weird, though, going from two savvy devices to nothing more than an insulin pen in my purse.  Weirder still (yet comforting) is the fact that Chris has never known me without my pump.  It's always been a part of our life together.

After rescuing my fiance from the airport (at 7 am in Boston - damn that's early), I gave him a huge hug and then shared my secret with him.  "I'm not wearing a pump today."

His arms circled my waist and he gave me a kiss on the head.

"I never notice even when you do." 

Welcome home, Chris.  I'm so happy you're home!

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