Testing Time for Diabetes Supplies

Recently in the news there was the suggestion that people with diabetes were being denied the test strips that they needed to test their blood sugar levels. The testing strips are integral to diabetes care because they are what determine the level of sugar in the blood. That can then determine whether insulin needs to be injected and in emergency situations what action needs to be taken in the case of high or low blood sugars.

Typically people with Type 1 diabetes test their blood sugars about 4 times a day, although everybody's diabetes is different so it can vary. People with Type 2 diabetes tend to test less frequently, but again everybody is different. Based on a survey by the leading charity for people with diabetes, it stated that of the 2,000 people asked 39% of them had been refused their prescription or restricted access to supplies. This is something that I've experienced myself during the 12 years that I've had diabetes. The worst time that this was going on was when I was changing from insulin injections onto an insulin pump.

With insulin pumps the time that you first go onto them is integral in getting everything right. And testing is part of the process of getting into a routine. You have to do blood tests every 3 hours throughout the day and every 4 hours throughout the night. If your blood sugars are high, you have to correct and re-test every hour. And if your blood sugars are low you have to take on sugar and test every fifteen minutes until your blood sugars go back up. So on a particularly bad day I would do up to 24 tests a day or more, I was tired because I'd been up all night and my fingers were in agony.

Normally I would get about 4 boxes of strips a month which equates to 200 individual strips, which when I was transitioning from injections to a pump would barely last over a week let alone a month. And instead of allowing me to gain more strips or even enough for a month. When I went to collect my prescription it would be refused. It took my diabetes nurse phoning my doctors and explaining the situation, despite the fact that they knew I was on a pump to allow me to have the strips. But the thing that upset me the most was that it's hard enough having diabetes sometimes, without having to fight for the medication you need to best look after yourself.

That's why whilst at the IDF Europe camp last week, I was particularly disturbed by the varying situations in Europe regarding the availability of diabetes supplies. It varied from people being given less than enough strips for one test per day, to people having to pay for everything from their insulin to their pumps and their needles. In some countries you had to have horrifically high hba1c levels to qualify for an insulin pump and there were also stories surrounding the manufacture of pig insulin because it was cheaper for people to buy. So in some respects I can appreciate that we're lucky in the UK, that we have a reliable healthcare service. But with that same thing in mind and the fact that we all pay into it, it stands to reason that we should be able to get the medication that we need. Because to reiterate- having diabetes is its own battle, there should be no need to fight for the medication we need too.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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