I’m asking the same darn question. What in the actual Swear Word is going on?!
Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way upfront:
I am, undoubtedly, one of the lucky ones when it comes to health insurance. We can have the debate over whether or not Dexcom is a necessity or a privilege some other time. If I was stranded on an island, obviously insulin would be priority number one. But outside of being stranded on an island, Dexcom is a tool that keeps me safe. Because I value the high-quality product provided by the most innovative company on the market, I chose to fight for my supplies recently.
Yes, I am a minnow in the healthcare pond. Society is filled with bigger fish who only see $$$, not the frustration of minnows who see ??? on their Dexcom screens. But does that mean that I have to lose hope in humanity? Nope. There will always be good eggs fighting against Goliath, and I want to give everyone that benefit of the doubt. When I lay my head down on the pillow at night, I want to know that despite whatever diabetes-related concerns I may harbor, I still tried. Hence, this blog post.
We all deserve better in healthcare. Step 1 is openly talking about it.
My Dexcom transmitter alerted me to its quick decline a few weeks ago. I immediately placed all of the appropriate phone calls to Dexcom and my third party supplier, Neighborhood Diabetes, as well as emailed my endo clinic. Unfortunately, we all go through these healthcare loop-de-loop headaches from time to time; I am well-aware that this problem occurs to others, too, and I am just as livid about their interruptions in quality of life as I am about my own. What was different for me this time around was how unnecessarily drawn out, draining, and dehumanizing this war with Goliath was.
How many steps does it take to receive a diabetes supply in 2016, you might ask?
- 15 phone calls to third party suppliers, endocrinology clinics, and Dexcom customer service
- 13 emails to various providers
- 2 voicemails from third party supplier
- Hitting “refresh” on the USPS tracking website a pathetic number of times
- Gazillions of Twitter vent sessions
- Countless hours of interrupted workdays during these phone calls/wait times
- 1 box of Puffs Plus to dry your tears of frustration
- 4 trips to your apartment’s leasing office mailroom
- 2 awkward encounters with the mailman as you stalked his delivery route
- 2 weeks of remembering what it was like to sleep pre-Dexcom
-Hint: I won’t take Dexcom for granted again, although I am in a tech- detox until this weekend because, frankly, I need a mini-vacation after this ordeal.
-Notably, all of this is for ONE supply out of thousands needed in our diabetes lifetimes!!!
There are also elements which we cannot objectify so easily:
- Anger that our supposedly new and improved healthcare system remains SO disjointed
- Extreme guilt that this is a first world, continuous glucose monitor problem when so many in our own backyards and overseas struggle to obtain the basics required to live with diabetes
-If being “angry that you are angry” is a thing, it was definitely my thing this week.
- Which leads to more anger and self-doubt: Am I handling this well? Am I dramatic?
-Repeat that cyclical conversation in your brain a billion times over.
-Still feel guilty, as if YOU did something wrong here.
-Recognize that ^ is what abusers do to their victims; they twist the responsibility. Acknowledge that healthcare can be a big bully, and that no one deserves this.
-Realize that no, this situation is ludicrous. But yes, you are still blessed compared to others that you have what you do.
- Demoralization that you have to beg and beg and beg to be heard. That you have to explain, on every call, why this product is important. That once again you are at the mercy of something beyond your control, and diabetes has a hand in that just like it did during that horrific low on your middle school field trip so many years ago. Use incomplete sentences to express how off-putting this is.
- Brokenhearted that this will likely happen many times over because #weneedacure that is realistically still far away.
- Misunderstood: How can we possibly articulate how. much. time. we spend battling for supplies in order to survive?
- What about how little time that leaves to actually live?
Understandably, Dexcom is going through some growing pains due to chart-topping progress recently. Their call center is overworked. I’ll admit all biases here: I like Dexcom a lot, and I cut them some slack here because I have faith that they will rein in this situation soon. All of that aside, though, waiting one or two hours to reach a representative is not anyone’s idea of a good time.
Dexcom did call me back and apologize, a feat that earns them more brownie points in my book. We live in a society that is quick to criticize and slow to forgive. Knowing this, Dexcom still took accountability for the things that went awry, which allows me to trust in their company character.
Then there was my supplier, Neighborhood Diabetes, which has historically answered phone calls at rapid-fire pace, winning my admiration. Initially, they performed in their usual customer-centric manner, getting the ball rolling on my new Dexcom order.
My endo clinic needed to dot some i’s and cross some t’s for insurance. But their email system is sporadically down, to the point where patients and providers alike cannot communicate effectively. A few phone calls later and I was reassured that their part of the deal had occurred.
So, I called Neighborhood Diabetes back, prompting my order to ship out before last weekend.
Cool, except that order never shipped out due to a “glitch,” which was discovered during my repeated “What the heck?!!!” phone calls. Transparency goes a long way, and I am happy that one of ND’s representatives was honest with me about the issue. Yet I couldn’t help but envision my islet cells doubling over in laughter as they recalled that time 25 years ago when they had a little “glitch,” too.
Two weeks after this fiasco began, even the mailman was happy when delivery day arrived. I could not help but be reminded of the good eggs in the world as I found his smiley face emoji note, and the subsequent Neighborhood Diabetes package in the box to the left, to the left. 🙂
As diabetics, we have to be on our A-game every day. Our lives depend on it. Our family and friends rely on it because they do not want to prematurely lose us. We are all human and we all mess up from time to time. But we do not get the luxury of inefficient or ineffective practices. We do not get to have “glitches” or one-hour hold times at the call centers of our own bodies whenever we want a break from diabetes.
There were many moments over the past few weeks where I longed to mimic Kristin Cavallari’s famous Laguna Beach line, “My car is dunzo!”, except I would have replaced “car” with “pancreas” or “emotional stability.” Honestly, this whole situation broke me more than a scary low blood sugar ever could. It made me question my strength in handling all of this, but I also discovered one very clear truth:
In healthcare, there are good eggs and there is the Goliath of the broken system. Although an egg’s hard exterior may crack under pressure, the goodness inside is what matters when all is said and done. Be one of the good eggs.