I sometimes feel a little bit vulnerable. I know this is a bit silly but there was a programme on the BBC in the 1970’s called ‘Survivors’. All I can remember about it is that the people survived some sort of terrible disaster and had to solve all sorts of problems to live. I absolutely know this sounds dramatic but I occasionally think about what would happen if that happened for real. I know the answer – I would die because I need my insulin to live. When I think this I get a bit scared and uncomfortable even though I know it’s silly. I was clearly very impressionable as a child/young person and maybe should have been banned from some TV programmes!
This blog is all about my prescriptions – the way I get insulin to live. They are, and always have been, a real issue for me. I have worked since I was 16 with no break except around 4 months off when I had my son. I have never had a job that was less than 10 miles away from where I live, more often than not its been more and therefore not close to my GP. I depend on my insulin to survive and yet over the years the trouble I have to go to to get my prescriptions makes me sad and frustrated. I don’t want to take time off work to go and pick up my prescription or even drop off the request and yet sometimes it appears there is no other option at all, at least at my practice. The practice staff don’t seem to understand that whilst I need prescriptions to live I’m not really ill and go to work and can’t just ‘pop down after 10’. I do understand too that there are procedures to follow but I really feel that they just don’t ‘get’ what this is all about for patients, a view that was reinforced recently when someone on Twitter was equally upset when someone refused her a prescription for her insulin.
And before you all start saying its about ‘planning’ and being ‘responsible’ thats fine, but sometimes life sort of gets in the way. I’ve been on the same medication for years. I try really hard not to waste anything at all. I understand medicines and test strips are expensive; I’m very grateful I truly am and I try hard to remember and plan.
So what has this got to do with my crying? Well I have never cried over anything to do with my diabetes except one time when I was close to running out of insulin and I had to ring the doctors to request an urgent prescription. And before anyone starts to judge I’ve only ever run out of insulin once in 33 years – I’m not a serial offender! I’m human like anyone else and I could have sworn there was a vial in the fridge – it turns out I was mistaken. When I rang the doctors I virtually had to beg. I was so upset when I came off the phone I burst into tears with frustration and anger. You see, insulin really matters!
Over the last 33 years I must have had hundreds of prescriptions and for a long time it went like this: every 6-8 weeks, Sunday evening walk down to docs and drop repeat request slip in, wait the designated 3 days and then try to arrange for someone to pick it up, if I couldn’t do it myself. Take to the pharmacy and hope they have restocked from last time. They usually have some of my insulin but will probably need to order more, so I would have to go back again to collect the second lot. Can you imagine how much time this all takes?
The best thing that ever happened was when I let my pharmacist take more control over my prescriptions and so on. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. They are just so efficient and helpful and stand between me and the practice and negoitiate on my behalf. When I recently told them how grateful I was they just said they had to provide a good service as if they didn’t I would go somewhere else; they are right but I don’t because they are amazing.
I know some people think that online access to appointments and prescriptions is a ‘fad’ and perhaps is a ‘nice to have’ but I just can’t express how important it is to me. If I could request my repeat remotely while I am working and indicate where I would like to pick it up I can’t tell you how amazing that would be.
Living with diabetes is complex. Its a crazy mix of clinical skill, lifestyle choices and, well it affects nearly everything. But of all of the things over 33 years that have made me cry with frustration it’s repeat prescriptions. I can’t wait for my practice to go electronic!
My blog this week feels a bit negative – theres a challenge; a positive blog next week then! Lets hope its the next part of the CGM story!