The Talk

My son is now an adult.

He is living at home again while he does some upgrading and starts training for his chosen career.

Its hard to believe that my baby is an adult but he is. The law says so. He has his own car. He can drink…and to my surprise (because he is my baby) he does drink.

He seems to be responsible…well as responsible as you can be at his age. When he drinks he doesn’t drive. When he goes out, he brings along a friend who is a designated driver and doesn’t drink. He spends the night at that friend’s place so that he doesn’t drive again until he is sober.

He brings his test kit. He has his spare supplies and extra glucose with him.alcohol-drinks-1

He has a system when he drinks. He has already learned how certain beverages effect his bg levels. He is pretty confident in what he is doing.

How do I know this? Because he told me.  We were discussing his night out.  I was giving him a little bit of the information that I had learned about diabetes and alcohol thanks to places like the Diabetes Mine.  He told me his experience.  I asked what he would do if heaven forbid, he got falling down drunk.  How could he handle things? He told me that he had been there. He began to tell me what he did.

I was shocked.  This was my little boy. I began to walk out of the room. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to think of my baby as drinking. I really didn’t want to think of my little boy getting drunk. He stopped me.

He told me that I had to know. It was important for me to understand. If I didn’t listen to him, I would worry more. He wanted me to know that he was listening, learning and growing up. It was going to be okay.

I listened. I was proud that he would have this dialog with me. It was candid. It was honest. Nothing was hidden to make me feel better. It was raw.

It was tough to hear. It was good to hear.

He has stumbled. I have cried. He has learned. So have I. Together we will continue to get through.

I am glad he feels that he can talk to me.  I am glad that he has learned. I am proud that he wants me to be okay as well.

New Age, New Worries

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I hate to think about it.

I can feel my stomach start to churn.

This isn’t right.

My son is 19.  He has stumbled along, trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  It has been a challenge but he is meeting it.  Slowly he is  making his way.

Unlike his brother who finished high school and instantly knew what he wanted to do in terms of a career, my youngest son has been a bit more uncertain.  He has applied for a variety of trades but finding the right fit isn’t easy.

He needs a job with great benefits. He wants something that will interest him.  He needs to be employable in a slumping economy.  It can be a challenge for any young person.

He isn’t just any young person however.  He is a young person with diabetes and  diabetes doesn’t care that he doesn’t know what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

Diabetes doesn’t care that he may soon be removed from his parent’s insurance plan.

Diabetes doesn’t care that he doesn’t have a job with insurance.

Diabetes doesn’t care that his provincial drug plan offers very little assistance.

Diabetes demands that he check bg levels multiple times per day.  He still must find insulin to use daily. He is required  to make appointments and order insulin pump supplies. Diabetes doesn’t care how he does any of these things but if he wants to live, he has to find a way.

He is just 19.  He should be concerned with going to school. He should be concerned with finding a career path.  He shouldn’t be concerned with health care costs.

The reality is that those are things that he has to be concerned with however.  He is still in school but will insurance still recognize this? I am not sure.

There is some help for pump supplies in our province but because of some of his own mis-steps, his coverage has lapsed. Together we will work on getting him back in the program but it will take time.

There is a provincial drug plan.  They  allow you a set number of test strips for the year but some strips covered will be better than none when the time comes.

Some days the reality of life with an expensive illness…well its overwhelming despite the fact that I am not  the person who has to test or inject daily.  He understands that it will be expensive.  This is his life. It has been for loner than he can remember. It still makes my heart ache. I still wish that I could take it away.

I can’t. We will do our best and that will be fine.

Which Liberal Government?

The summer is over and it’s now time to get back to work.

This summer I saw a number of variations of this status posted all over Facebook…

“I would like to highlight the Liberal government removing the subsidy for blood test strips. Diabetics need very frequent blood testing, up to 5+ times a day. The cost of strips is $70.00 – outcome – reduced blood glucose testing and more hospital admissions from hyper or hypo glycemic episodes.
Diabetes . . . I am asking if everyone could put this as their status for 1 hour. I’m pretty sure I know the ones that will. Think of someone you know or love who has or has had diabetes. My hope is that in 2016 a cure will be found. Will you post it for 1 hour? To honor those who have fought or are fighting diabetes.? “

Many people were sharing this status.  Many more were asking…where is this from? Whose government is doing this? The answers were surprising.

liberalsI was certain that it was Newfoundland.  This spring the new Liberal government  announced changes to the provincial prescription drug plan.  They were limiting the number of test strips to 2500 annually for those using MDI, 700 for those using just a long acting insulin, 100 for those not using insulin and 50 for those who have only recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.*

As this post continued to make its rounds however, I was shocked to see that a number of other locations were also claiming that this was a reality in their home area. People from as far away as Australia were saying that this had happened to them.  They said it was their government that the post was directed at.  All I could think was, “this is crazy!”

For years, study after study has shown how important tight control and home blood glucose monitoring is.  They have shown that good control equates to improved health outcomes AND immediate financial benefit in terms of reduced loss of work. Why would governments think that they were saving money by cutting access to blood glucose testing strips?

This entire scenario hits too close to home as my son turns 19. He may soon be in a position of losing his health care coverage.  His days of being covered by his father’s private health care plan are numbered.   My stomach aches each time I think of this safety net being taken away.  He does have some coverage from the province.  We will find a way but what about other children?

I don’t mean small children, I mean adults who are struggling to find their way.  What about them? What about their families? How do they cope? How do you work a minimum wage job, pay your rent, buy your groceries AND cover your diabetes care costs?

Again, we know how important blood glucose testing is. As parents, we have spent years asking  our children “Did you test?” and “What was your blood glucose reading?”  How do they answer those questions when they can’t afford the test strips? How accurate will their guess have to be?

Without proper testing, they cannot accurately dose their insulin. They cannot make exact judgement calls on corrections.  They will run a high risk of complications.  They most likely will have more sick days.  This will cost governments more money in lost tax revenue and create an increased drain on hospital services.

If a person with diabetes is unable to test and stop potentially dangerous high blood glucose levels on their own, they will be forced to seek hospital treatments.  A 2008 report in the Toronto Star suggests that one typical hospital stay then cost approximately $7000**.  $7000…you can get 100 strips for $80-$100.  If you test 8-10 times per day that one hospital stay would still  cost more than 2 years worth of test strips. Two years. 

It would appear that the people in charge of making these policy changes need to better understand what they have done.  Basic math shows the folly in such policies. We can only hope that public pressure and common sense will ultimately prevail.  Our loved ones with diabetes need access to the proper medical supplies to ensure that they can continue to be healthy, productive members of our societies.

*http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2016-04-17/article-4500650/Changes-coming-to-provincial-drug-program/1

**https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2008/03/18/average_hospital_stay_costs_nearly_7000_study.html