This is an attempt at a pop music metaphor: I briefly (believed I) knew everything I needed to know, every pause, every “I Might!”, every tikkatikkatik, every beat. It turns out, I’ve just been running around with the same playlist for a long time. Truth is, diabetes (like iTunes Radio?) has an endless number of deep cuts for me to discover. This week there have been three. Also this song.
1. Transmitter IDs Matter
Tab’s sensor (with transmitter snapped in) fell off during frisbee and could not be found.
We call technical support from the car, on speaker, driving home, in the dark. Explained it fell off in a field. Guessed it had been on for about five days. Inquired would you be able to replace the sensor and transmitter?
TECH: We can’t really replace a transmitter when you don’t have one to send back to us. Let me place you on a brief hold.
TECH: Looks like we can replace both of those for you. Can you tell me the serial number for the transmitter?
TAB: (opens the app on his phone and reads the code)
TECH: Do you have a back up transmitter you can use meanwhile?
BIGFOOT: I’m sure we have one at home. He can use one of his brother’s if we don’t have one for him—
RECORD SCRATCH NOISE
TECH: Ma’am (or maybe he called me Mom) this is a prescribed medical device. You can’t be swapping them out. Even if your children are prescribed the same device, you can’t give one brother’s transmitter to the other brother.
BIGFOOT: Really? I just keep all of the supplies in one place. Are you saying I need to mark which ones belong to which kid?
TECH: Yes, because this is a medical prescription.
BIGFOOT: Was the serial number my son just read to you a transmitter assigned to him, or to his brother?
TAB: (shaking his head, silently mouthing) NO. MOM. NO.
TECH: (clackety clack of the keyboard). Actually, that one is NOT assigned to him. So. I can’t replace it, since it was not used by the person it was prescribed for.
TECH: Uhhhhhm, but what am I going to do? I already told you I would replace it. So I’ll replace it this time, but for the future, you want to keep your children’s transmitter back-ups separate from each other.
(((THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU)))
The tech guy looks up which transmitter ID #s are associated with each kid and Tab jots this all down on his phone. Get home. Mark the boys’ initials on their associated spare transmitters with the biggest Sharpie pen. May I recommend you other imaginary people with more than one Dexcom user per household do the same?
I didn’t know it mattered who used what transmitter. Did you? I asked the tech guy if I should also keep the sensors separated per person, and he said no, because Dexcom tech support doesn’t have those serial #’s associated with specific patients, but also yes, because a sensor is a medical prescription and needs to be used by the person it was prescribed for. (I took that as a no.)
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
2. Free Stickers for Failures
Tab has had so many sensors fall off prematurely (I think the tech guy said they’d recorded more than five preemies in one year) that he is sending a package of Dexcom-specific overlay patches to try. I asked, “Is it Rock Tape?” The tech guy said it is a Dexcom-specific adhesive overlay patch. Isn’t that special and fun?
I wonder if they will be in fun colors/patterns or classic ostomy beige.
The PSAT-NMSQT is today. We set up accommodations long ago. As test day approached, we realized no one at school had told Tab what the accommodations would, well, be. We only knew he could test his BG and stop the clock to treat highs or lows. I emailed the person in charge, and she told me she’d meet with Tab about it, and she did so that very day. That afternoon, he told me he was all set. Ever attempting to not be a snowflake helicopter, I did not press for more details.
This morning, Tab realized he didn’t know what the accommodations entail. Could he use his phone as a CGM? What if his pump buzzed at him, could he take it out of his pocket? Could he press buttons? Would the proctor know what it was? I was surprised these details remained unmentioned. I called the school, about 30 minutes before the test. (Too late, I realize.)
The school secretary told me she was certain Tab could use his phone as a medical device, and sounded exasperated. “That’s the point of accommodations. I don’t even understand why you need to ask this question.” (I explained, well, the kids are told if they use any electronic device before or during the test, or during breaks, that their score will be cancelled, and no one told him which of his devices he could use during the test.) “I’m sure it will be fine. I’m not going to interrupt Mrs. _____; she’s already in the testing room setting things up.” I emailed Mrs. ______. She wrote back, “He’s all set! The proctor will monitor his blood glucose throughout the test.” Okay…but…
- What is the proctor looking for, even? Arrows? Numbers? What numbers? What kinds of arrows?
- What data would cause the proctor to interrupt the test?
- If the phone CGM alerts that he’s low, but he feels fine, does he have to leave the test?
- What about the insulin pump, which might also demand attention? Does he have to leave it in his pocket? Can he look at it? Can he press its buttons?
- Perhaps most importantly: why did no one describe this in advance?
- ANSWER: Because his mother didn’t ask until 30 minutes prior to the test
- ALTERNATE, PREFERRED ANSWER: No one really thought this through. Incidentally, the mother is a genius and kind and very beautiful.
- Furthermore: why is the school secretary so angry?
- Why is the mother always being too much or not enough, except for when she watches Jeopardy* or bakes a frozen pizza**?
*We are so enjoying Austin Rogers on Jeopardy. Did you know that show is on every night? I’ve never really watched Jeopardy before. I hope Austin will win forever.
**Tab makes these lemon pepper chicken wings (oven fry version—heads up to start a day before you want to eat) on Wednesdays, and I make a salad and one Freschetta gluten free pizza.