I’m an Undercover Diabetes Advocate Ninja!

I’m an Undercover Diabetes Advocate Ninja!featured

Square face... in it's early days!

Square face… in it’s early days!

Are you an undercover diabetes-ninja-advocate like me?

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m ignorant regarding the needs of people with certain medical conditions.

Ask one of my best friends who has a nut allergy. I’ve asked  hundreds of times if he’d like some peanuts!

Our friend is kind… he smiles and laughs when this happens. I immediately apologize, as I make this awkward square face… oops!

I can tolerate slip ups like this too… I have a certain family member who constantly says, “is your sugar low” every time I check my sugar.

But when I’m dealing with the medical field I have little tolerance. In fact, almost none! 

Case in point, back in my early university days I’d see a walk-in-clinic doctor who’d scold me every freakin’ time he’d see my A1C creep up to 7.8%!! He’d say terrifying things like:

“This disease is going to take your sight.” 

It got so bad that I talked to a counsellor! Conveniently, this counsellor happened to be a former doctor in the clinic. I needed help because I felt like a SICK PERSON!

And that made me feel really crappy all the time.I’d think:

Who’s going to want to marry this doomed-to-be-blind sickly person? 

This counsellor whooped some serious sense into the clinic by writing on my file:

“Do not discuss your diabetes misconceptions with this client!”

Okay, so that was back in the day when I was shy and needed a sidekick to do all the “dirty work!”

Fast-forward 10 years later and here is a letter I wrote when pregnant to a local pharmacy:

Letter to the Pharmacy

To Whom It May Concern,

I just returned from ********.

Having had type 1 diabetes for close to 15 years and currently a Certified Diabetes Nurse Educator myself, I am seriously disappointed in the customer service provided by the pharmacist.

This was my third attempt to obtain blood glucose strips, each time I’ve had a different response as to why I was unable to be provided with these glucose strips.

My concerns are as follows:

  1. When asked to order 400 strips, I was told I would need to talk to the pharmacist. The pharmacist stood 2 meters away and did not approach the counseling desk.
    • This is a confidentiality violation, as I was not able to confidentially explain my situation to him and other patrons were able to hear my health information. Namely, this included that I am pregnant and testing my blood glucose level up to 20 times a day.
  2. I was told by the pharmacist that a letter would be required to order this quantity of strips and submitted to the insurance company.
    • I explained to the pharmacist that I had already dealt with this situation at my previous pharmacy and that a letter had been submitted to my insurance company from my doctor.
    • I explained that I had personally been approved by the insurance company and received this confirmation after calling and talking directly with the insurance company.
  3. The pharmacist then replied that,  “if you want strips you can get some today”. I replied, ” great, so the order will go through my insurance”. The pharmacist replied, “No, you can purchase some today”.
    • I then stated, “That works well for you, but this would require me to spend $100-$400, which hardly makes sense since you can put the prescription through my plan”. I was told a confirmation phone call would need to be made if I wanted the strips and that I should return another day.
  4. I explained that I am down to only enough strips for 1 night and if I get sick or need more testing I will have no strips left.

Note: I have had many pharmacies advance me strips in less serious situations that this.

I stated, “I am worried about going without strips for my health and the health of my unborn child”. I was not given a response, which is deeply concerning given the urgency and serious nature of not having enough glucose strips to test in pregnancy.

Today, I was treated with a sense of suspicion and with a lack of dignity.

I would like ******* to personally know that I will not be obtaining service from this location any longer, following the completion of this prescription due to the breech in confidentiality and the lack of dignity and lack of trust as a client that I was treated with today.

I hope this encounter is discussed with the participating employees, so as to allow for improvement in more dignified and trusting customer service. What more could a client ask for? I would not dream of treating one of my diabetes clients with any less respect, dignity and trust.


Melissa Shannon
Diabetes Consumer, Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Nurse Educator

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About the author

Melissa Shannon

Melissa Shannon is diabetes obsessed! She's a diabetes nurse, diabetes advocate, and person with type one diabetes. Melissa loves sharing stories about life with diabetes and is a passionate speaker and diabetes evangelist. Melissa's motto is: "Let's not let diabetes rule our lives, let's have diabetes to go!"

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