Thursday, 22 June 2017

Accessing A Glucometer In Ontario

You have just been diagnosed. The doctor informs you that part of being diabetic is you have to self monitor your blood sugars at home. She/He gives you a prescription for a glucometer and you are told you will be referred to the Diabetic Education Centre (DEC) near you. You also find out it will be a while, a couple of weeks to a month, before you actually see the Certified Diabetic Educator (CDE) Team. (The system is overburdened, mainly with people with T2, not unlike many other countries.) You take your prescription, which is general and says 'Glucometer for diabetes testing',  and off you go to your favourite drug store.

As an aside, least in Ontario, glucometers are covered by most drug plans both publicly and ones negotiated through union contracts. There is also financial assistance for those who are working but have no benefits.

At this point, your teaching is done by the pharmacist who is also a CDE until you get into the DEC. This fills a gap in our system. The pharmacist teaches you how to test and gives you a glucometer. How she/he chooses one, one can only guess. If you're lucky enough to have a pharmacist who is diabetic, then your glucometer will likely meet your needs. And to be fair, if your pharmacist is not diabetic and just chooses one for you, then they are likely going to give you a monitor that is simple to use, with very few features. (Personally, I like features. I digress. Back to the story.) Your initial monitor is covered by your drug plan. Yay. Now your journey begins with your new meter.

Fast forward time let's say a year or two later. You are now a pro at using your glucometer. Because you're on the internet, you see ads for glucometers coming up because you did a search related to something to do with diabetes. Hmmm, there are other glucometers? With more features? Holy whack-a-doodle there sure are!

Here's where I think you can have some latitude. I hated my first monitor. It was big. It was clumsy. And at that time, I felt I wanted to hide my testing from the world. Oh, people knew I was diabetic but I preferred to test quietly and in my mind, discreetly. (Now I still use judgement but I'm less concerned about 'discreet'.) The fact remained, I hated my monitor. So I followed those ads and read many of them. More popped up. (Who says this marketing tool doesn't work?) I went to reputable sites like Diabetes Canada and the American Diabetes Association for more information. I learned that monitors in the USA may not be available in Canada, or at least, not yet. Development for new monitors is often done in the USA. On a whim, I called one of the glucometer companies to get more info about a nicer meter thinking I would talk to my doctor and ask for a Rx for a new specific one, or just go buy a new one that I wanted. I expressed my concerns about the meter I was currently using and customer service asked me a lot of questions about my testing habits. The next thing I knew, they were sending me a new meter, one that would make me happier. (Recall, the money is not in the meter, its in the strips. I truly believe though these companies are trying to make things better for us.) Keep in mind, these companies do not do this willy-nilly. But what is wrong with this if it benefits both of us? Nothing. Nothing at all.

I love my current monitor and although I check at least yearly to see what else is out there, I probably won't change again.

There are already so many choices that unfortunately are made for us with diabetes. Ask for what you need or would like to have. Although 'no' is an acceptable answer on many things, I am of the mind that I'm going to make you tell me no rather than assume that's the answer. There may be many more 'yes' answers than you can ever imagine.

If you take away nothing else from this posting, take away that you have more choice about many things than you realize. Empower yourself and make some changes that will make your DLife more acceptable. And maybe even easier.

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