Thursday, 12 January 2012

Testing, Testing, 1, 2,3, Testing (….and 4,5,6,7,8,9,10)

I realize that initially I was going to post about the new diabetes app I got for my Android phone,, however I had an incident at the pharmacy this morning that was both upsetting and frustrating and I feel the need to express a specific issue it brought up (in case you were really looking forward to hearing about the diabetes app, I will post about it sometime in the next 2 weeks for sure!)

Last night I called in my prescription for test strips as per usual, with the plan to pick them up this morning before commuting to school for my 10:30am class. Since it usually only takes about 5 minutes to pick up the prescription, I only left about that much earlier than usual to allow time to pick up my prescription.

When I arrived at the pharmacy, the pharmacy assistant told me that the prescription wasn’t ready because my order was too early compared to usual. Apparently I usually take 2 months to fill my prescription, and this time it had only been just over a month. What was upsetting was the way the pharmacy assistant was dealing with the situation. First of all, she seemed suspicious that I needed to refill my prescription so soon:

“You shouldn’t have to refill you prescription so soon.”
“Well I do. I need test strips!”

 I could not believe that this lady had the nerve to tell me when my prescription should be refilled. I’m a type 1 diabetic. I need test strips or bad things will happen (…such as high blood sugars, low blood sugars that go undetected etc.) I was clearly exasperated, but also adamant that I needed those test strips (Because I did! It’s not like I was stocking up to sell the test strips on the black market…I doubt a black market for test strips even exists! It's not like you can get high off test strips.) Yet the pharmacy assistant still didn’t seem to believe me:

“You would have to be testing about 10 times a day to fill out your prescription that fast.”
“Yes, that makes sense. I do test that much.”

In fact sometimes I test more than that. And the past month has been holidays so I’ve been testing more frequently than usual to combat holiday desserts. This isn’t a sin. I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about testing a lot. What really upset me about this encounter was that it’s the same sort of attitude I get from the nurses and my endocrinologist, when I visit my diabetic clinic. As if testing many times in one day is a bad thing. Do they really think I enjoy testing my blood sugars a lot? That poking myself with a pin is just the greatest feeling in the world? (It's not, in case you didn't catch the sarcasm. It is actually rather unpleasant.)

To  all the endocrinologists, nurses, diabetic health care practitioners, and apparently pharmacy assistants out there: the more times a day you test your blood sugars, the better idea you have about what your blood sugars are at any given time in the day. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I don’t have a continuous blood glucose monitor, so testing my blood sugars 10 times a day is sometimes necessary to achieve good blood sugar control. It’s the opposite of a bad thing, it’s a good thing if it helps me control my blood sugars.

So please don’t tell type 1 diabetics that we test too much. We don’t. We test just enough. 


  1. hi em. i'm glad i've found your blog. i, too, am a type 1.
    i get so frustrated when i hear(read) about people (drs, nurses, pharmacists etc) telling us we "test to much". how is that possible? if we weren't testing they would be drilling us for not testing "enough"!! and who decides how much is "too much"? they want our BGs to be less than 7.0, but when that is what we are trying to achieve by testing, they get all bent. and the insurance companies should have no right to put a limit on test strips. they are live savers for us. that's like saying you can only use 1 vial of insulin/mth. well if i have to start rationing, won't that lead to a worsening of my condition and more time spent in hospital, which, in the end, costs the insurance companies more money??? they make it a lose/lose situation, when in fact it should be win/win.

    1. Kim,
      Thank you for the positive comments about the blog, much appreciated!I've spoken with many type 1 diabetics about this issue, and there seems to be a common thread about everyone being scolded for testing too much.
      I think often the endocrinologists and nurses and other trained diabetic health care professionals need to realize that it is more often than not, us teaching them, not the other way around. Textbooks can't tell you how much to test in a day for perfect results, only your body can!
      And bodies are very finicky things.