I just got back from a weekend in Yosemite, notable not just for its vistas, sheer granite walls and abundant wildlife, but for the fact that my continuous glucometer totally broke. Yup, the receiver for my Navigator — mentioned in my previous post as the “love of my life” — started bleeding through its LCD screen and is now completely unreadable. This was a particularly bad turn of events because, as anyone who has a Navigator knows, it serves as a glucometer as well — so I found myself stuck in the middle of Yosemite national park with no way to test my blood sugar.
This is a horrible turn of events: unlike glucometers, which test strip manufacturers seem to give away like candy at the dentist’s office, the Navigator receiver is expensive. I have no idea if Abbott is going to be willing to replace it, especially since my insurance has changed since I originally got it. This caused much anxiety today and not a few tears.
More on that later, but it also taps into what I think is the Murphy’s law of diabetic equipment — namely, that pumps, glucometers, and all the things necessary for a well-balanced diabetic life will function perfectly well when you are in within driving distance of a 24-hour CVS (or Fed-Ex delivery spot). Step outside those boundaries, though, and they will fail. In my mere eight years of diabetes, here is my list of travel-related diabetic catastrophes:
-I am in China, hiking to the top of a mist-shrouded mountain called Tai Shan. This involves walking up approximately 1,000 steep stone steps to a foggy shrine, staying the night, and hiking down the following afternoon. I get approximately 884 steps up the mountain and my glucometer breaks. The only food available is large bowls of noodle soup.
-I am in a remote area of Maine over Labor Day weekend. I arrive at my friend’s house, begin preparing for dinner, and my pump’s screen gets stuck and I am unable to deliver any boluses.
-I am on a yoga retreat in Mexico, at a hotel four hours from Cancun. As I am walking to dinner, my pump goes blank.
-I am in Costa Rica with my family. After dinner one evening, I go to prime my pump and it begins to spurt insulin, in a gentle arc — sort of like a fountain, albeit one that could kill you. I have to have a home delivery of syringes from a nearby medical clinic.
This is not counting, of course, the times where the failures have been my fault — like when I took my pump into an MRI. (Spoiler alert: the magnet will make it levitate!)
But nonetheless, I think it’s a little odd that these problems always occur in places devoid of pharmacies or mailboxes. It’s like the equipment can sense when no one’s watching. Anyway, luckily for me last night, I had a spare glucometer on hand and an old bottle of test strips, so we didn’t have to go to the emergency room. But I still have no idea how the screen got screwed up, and very worried about my prospects for a replacement. And in the meantime, I’m realizing just how important the continuous glucometer had become to me. I’d only been wearing it for four weeks, and yet now that I don’t have it, I feel like I can’t eat.