A Week In The Life

Those medical artists, those doctors, that health-care system and those office staff and nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, and pharmacists; indeed, also those insurance company reps and medical-supply folks toiling away in cubes and warehouses…they all deserve my praise for the work they do to help me as I try to live as healthy and normal a life as possible with this thing called Type 1 diabetes.


But I’d be lying if I said that, despite my good fortune to have an excellent health-care team and pretty awesome insurance coverage, I don’t find the practice of physically going here and there to make this appointment and that appointment and to pick up yet another prescription refill somewhat tiresome. Every few months, the rigmarole of it all ramps up, and the time I take out of my days and weeks begins to wear on me.

This past week has been one of those several-day stretches of “does it ever end?” (And, of course, I know that answer to that: Until there’s a cure, It Will Not End.) As much as I love being in hospitals and doctors’ offices (yes, it’s true, I really get a kick out of the physical structures—the bigger the better), the appointments’ and prescriptions’ stars often seem to align so that I’m doing all of it within a five- or six-day stretch.

  • Last Thursday, I had my quarterly visit with the endocrinologist. Commute, waiting room, doctor exam, checkout, and blood lab—Total Time (TT): 2 hours.
  • That same day, I called in a refill on two prescriptions.TT: 1 hour.
  • That same day, I learned while at the pharmacy that a scrip I needed to refill needed to be renewed, so the next day I returned to pick it up. TT: 1 hour.
  • Over the weekend, I realized that I should have refilled my insulin, because the box in the fridge that I thought had a bottle in it was an empty box. (My fault, of course, for not pitching the old box. But hey.) On Monday, I return to the pharmacy, where they know me by name. I feel special. TT: 1 hour.
  • Wednesday morning, I have my six-month checkup with my primary care physician. TT: 2 hours. (After which I had to schedule an ultrasound on my liver for next week, which will be at least another TT of 1 hour. Oh, and in case you’re curious, the reason for the ultrasound is to establish a baseline image of how my liver looks because of some slightly fluctuating liver-function numbers from a blood test. I’ll spare you the details, but the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in people with diabetes is a good reason to be a little more cautious.)
  • Today, I’m headed to my therapist’s office after work for what is now a once-every-three-weeks appointment. TT: 2 hours.

Over the next six months, my appointment calendar for my involvement with those who practice the medical arts crawls into the double digits: Another doctor visit, an ophthalmologist visit, a blood lab, two endocrinologist visits, one trip to the podiatrist, at least one trip each month past the pharmacy, as well as the ongoing visits with my therapist. Oh, and there’s a dentist appointment in there as well.

I’m probably forgetting a few things.

Recently I put a bumper sticker on my car to proudly announce who I support for president (to go with the sign in our yard and the button on my work bag). I’d love to tell you who I support, but you can probably guess. However, when the election’s over, I should have two bumper stickers made up. I’ll put one on each side of the back of my car. On the left side, it will read: “I’m doing this for diabetes”; on the right side, it will say: “I’m doing this for me.”

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  • CalgaryDiabetics

    Dear Eric. You are lucky that you have access to comprehensive health care. It is still understandable that using it is not a pleasure. If only God would allow a 3 week vacation from all illness per year. This is not so. Death is the only solution. As a Diabetic, healthcare is my biggest political issue by far but it does not occupy any place in our or your political debate. So I am really puzzled by who you would support with so much enthusiasm (at least by Canadian standards).

  • Eric L.

    Dear CD:

    Health care is a pretty big political issue for me, as well, yet there are so many other things that concern me during this presidential election. My politics are indeed on the left, and there’s nothing about the other side that I find appealing. Really, quite, absolutely, nothing.

    (For the record, I am NOT employed by Diabetes Self-Management, and my political views have nothing to do with those of Rapaport Publishing or anything with Diabetes Self-Management.)

    I’m sure some people will want to try to teach me about McCain’s positions on x and y vs. Obama’s positions on x and y. I don’t wish to argue: if you believe differently than I do, that’s fine. I do, however, welcome those who want to talk about health care and the upcoming election to voice their opinions here if they so desire (I don’t think Tara, the Web editor here, censors political commentary!). All I ask is that you aim for discussion and thoughtful commentary rather than knee-jerk emotional reaction to those comments that don’t mesh with yours. After all, the comment boards on many news sites are rather disgusting.

    By the way, I heard this story (URL below) on the way into work the other day, and I found it rather disturbing (and I also don’t think that most people aren’t getting the full story about McCain’s health-care plan):


  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric. I do think that the web site should concentrate on diabetes mostly and avoid politics but health care is political the more so in Canada since the primary insurer is the Govt but many employers provide extra coverage. I believe that our Conservative Govt is trying to demolish the national health care system but this is hard since it is stricly a state jurisdiction under the constitution. Contrary to your Religious Right a lot of Christians in Canada consider universal health something Jesus would have approved. And the Church in Canada historically did provide medical care and for free to those that could not pay.

    I visited Europe in the last few years and in general and the opinion they had of American foreign was not good. You as a country must stop giving your politician boxes of blank checks for war purposes. You dont trust your govt to provide health care but you trust it with infinite money to make war, to the rest of the world this is an immense contradiction. All morality aside this will bankrupt the USA eventually.

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric.

    The comming very severe recession will cure people about the fundamental philosophy that the Govt should not regulate the financial system, in this regard the Right has ruined America and the rest of the world. Some of the rest of the world has wall street like financial artists that also enjoyed no regulation too, so crooks are not retricted to the USA.

    To be fair there is only one good thing I can think of in right philosophy and that is: somewhat of a commitment to free trade. There will be great pressure on the next US president to “not” veto a new version of the Smooth-Hartly tariff bill. This is the one that (1000 or so)economists asked Herbert Hoover to veto. He did not and made the 1929 crash into hell on earth.

  • tess

    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do so

  • Florian

    You might be able to save some time with your scripts and going to the pharmacy by using a mail order pharmacy. I get scripts for a 3 mo supply of meds with 3 refills that can be ordered on line. It was a rocky start at first but now it’s running smoothly with fast free delivery of all my meds,insulin, and testing supplies.

    I haven’t made up my mind yet as to who I want living in the Whitehouse next year. Neither candidate strikes me as having the right stuff to be my president. I wonder if either Obama or McCain has any family members or relatives living with diabetes. That could be a deciding factor as far as I am concerned. I would also like to know who is on the short list that each candidate has for cabinet positions. I definitely believe that having the best qualified people is important.

    One last thing, I will cast my vote for the candidate who is the first to announce at the next big debate that November is Diabetes Awareness Month and the 14th is World Diabetes Day. I’m easy.
    Florian (T1, 41 yrs)
    Stop the war and CURE Diabetes

  • James D.Taylor

    Eric-I can certainly relate to what sometimes can feel like the “all consuming” effort of tending to my Type 1 diabetes as I’m now in my 44th year of “battling the beast” that is diabetes and the endless issues we all eventually seem to encounter.
    Be thankful you have what seems to be great insurance coverage as my out of pocket expenses are astronomical during the medicare “donut-hole” coverage and I’ll probably be hitting reduced “catastrophic” coverage expenses just as the new calendar year begins. I’d really like to talk to the folks who created this obtuse insurance coverage plan aand give them a dose of my reality.
    In addition to all the fun I have looking after a myriad of my own medical issues I also am closely monitoring my 86 yr old parents as Dad suffered a major stroke in March and the concurrent changes it has made for everyone in my family have been somewhat overwhelming to say the least. Without a doubt I have spent more time in hospitals this year for a variety of issues than ever before and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Add to that a plethora of insurance paperwork and tax related billing issues and it gets a bit overwhelming.
    When you add up the complete screwing of the American economy by the “free market hoi-polloi” it’s enough to make you want to stand on a soap box and shout “I’m MAD AS HELL and I’m not going to take it any longer”, but I doubt anyone would care.
    Thanks for allowing me the rant space-Keep up the good work and don’t forget to go down swinging!

  • Jack M Gloede

    I can understand your day although I am a Type 2 diabetes. the differences are minor. Regarding diabetes and other non-covered conditions by the health insurance industry, the “high-risk-pool” is not what it should be. The cost is always excessive for anyone enrolling and it will give you between a year to a year and a half of waiting period for the illness your are seeking coverage. The “universal” health care propsed by one of the candidates is the most realistic way to approach the problem that plagues our nation with over 46 million uninusred. It is undeniable that there will be individuals who no matter what, will not enroll so what to do with them when all of a suddent they realize they need medical services and can not get them for conditions which now are so advanceds that enrolling them is in reality a claim for a heavy amount of money coming down in a matter of days.
    I belive that a “universal” health care approach wher ethe government guarantees a modicum of comprehensive medical insurance and for those who want to have better or expanded coverage can obtain it through private insurers. Since the vast majority of americans either work for a company may it be small, medium or large and another good number are self employed, paying your share throu your payroll taxes is a good idea and the costs can be shared as with medicare: part employer, part employee. For self employed the opportunity that if there are two in the business being able to obtain it via these makes sense. We all absolutely abhorr paying taxes. But I believe it is becasue we are not seeing them work for us, the citizens. Every american would not mind paying his fair share as long as he can actually see and feel the benefit of that money taxed on our hard earned money.
    After many years in the health insurance industry as a broker I can relate to the “universal” proposal. Perhaps something modeled after some of the european models where this government private industry approach is being used. I am proposing to imitate it, I am proposing to model it from those experiences and adapt it or build it to our needs in this great country of ours. Also, let us be realistic when we talk about health care: all human beings do age and as they do they do become more fragile in their health and their needs are greater, but we also have health conditions that of no fault of our own are being suffered by many americans infants, young, adult and elderly.