What an infected pump site looks like

I put in a new Omnipod on Friday. By Saturday, it was hurting pretty bad. This is not uncommon for me; depending on how badly it hurts and how much insulin is left in the pump, I usually “stick it out” because it’s a huge waste of insulin to toss pods before they’re depleted.

By Saturday night, it was too painful to ignore, and despite the fact that it still had a ton of soon-to-be-wasted insulin in it, I pulled it out. Normally, a painful site may be sore for a few days but will mostly improve once I remove the pod. In this case, it didn’t. It got more and more painful to the touch and by Sunday night, had reddened into an angry, warm-to-the-touch, sensitive, throbbing, infected nightmare.

This sucks. I know that skin infections are the most common risk of moving to insulin pumps, and in a way I’m lucky that I went 3 1/2 years using pumps without a problem. But I’ve only used Omnipod since August, so my record with Omnipod is substantively worse.

 

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(the markings were so I could observe if the redness was growing)

 

I’m mad.

I’m mad because it hurts, I’m mad because now I have to deal with doctors appointments and antibiotics that will wipe out all the gut bacteria I’ve carefully cultivated over the last few years, and I’m mad because antibiotics and infections both scare me in equal terms and I hate having to deal with either.

I’m not really mad at the pump though; I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at my Puritan heritage that instilled a mindset that it’s better to suffer than waste, and I’m mad because I allowed my fear of copays and skyrocketing insulin costs override good sense. I should have pulled this stupid pod off the second it started hurting; instead, terrified to waste insulin (I live in absolute fear that I’ll run out of my monthly allotment before I can get a refill), I suffered and likely made this a lot worse.

My monthly supply of Humalog costs me $30. How “good,” how “reasonable” things are when you have insurance. That prescription showed up on my insurance claim at $1,085.99. Over a thousand dollars for the minuscule amount of liquid that sustains my life for a month.

They should be jailed.

With that number—$1,085.99—buzzing around in the back of my head, I am motivated to do extremely stupid things. Like wear a pod that every instinct is telling me to change because it hurts like hell but WHATS THE ALTERNATIVE?! Run out of insulin and pay a thousand dollars for just enough to let me survive until next month?

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I read a lot of blogs from fellow chronic illness-ers where they complain about insurance issues—battles for coverage, prescription costs, issues with refills or dosages, etc., etc—and man, do I get it. What I do not get is that, without fail, most of these posts start with the disclaimer “I’m so grateful to insurance for providing me coverage, but…”

“I’m so grateful to have insurance, but it sucks that they denied Dexcom coverage.”

“I’m so grateful for insurance, but my copays are still really expensive.”

“I’m so grateful for insurance, but I’ve spent 4 days on the phone trying to get someone to listen to me and understand that I need this test/device/service.”

Am I missing something? Why are we grateful for insurance, people? If you’ve been unjustly jailed, are you going to waste your time being “grateful” to your jailers for making sure your cell isn’t on fire? For offering you gruel twice a day? For allowing you to go to the bathroom?

I’m not grateful for insurance, because insurance is the product of a monstrously broken system. I’m not going to thank you for jacking the price of an unavoidable, lifesaving medication over 700% in 20 years and basing the price I pay for it on seemingly random, impenetrable behind-the-scenes calculus. There’s no logical reason why I should have to pay more (or less) for insulin than someone else because our respective employers got different deals cut by different companies.

Please, fellow diabetics, let’s stop being grateful for insurance. Insurance is a prison, and the system doesn’t have to work this way. We have the worst healthcare in the developed world. Which means we can literally look to any other country in the developed world for examples on how to change (hint: universal healthcare! single payer!)

What’s that? Shut up and get a job, Jessie? Got it, I’ll go back to basing my life decisions on securing insurance so I don’t literally go broke trying not to die.

Funny story: the antibiotics that I’m on cost me $2.71. With that money, I could buy enough insulin to keep me alive for 107 minutes! (Well, unless I wanted to eat something.)

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