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  • Phyllis Kaplan/Dinobetic

Diabetes is more than insulin and glucose numbers

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Did you ever have one of those weeks where nothing seemed to go right? Yeah, Me too. And last week was one of those weeks.

My struggles last week were based on less than stellar customer service calls across 3 different organizations, for 4 separate support problems that couldn't be done online. Living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) diabetes isn't just about insulin doses and glucose levels. There are medical devices, prescriptions for medical devices, doctor appointments, health insurance, prescriptions for medications, to name a few.

This post might make me sound like a curmudgeon, and maybe I am!

Call 1: Medical device technical support

  • Time on the phone: 9 minutes

  • Reason for call: Medical device failed on day 6 of 7

This has been an ongoing issue for 12+ months, and one that has been escalated to many people within the company. Unfortunately for me, there doesn't seem to be a fix so each time this happens (weekly) I call technical support to log the issue and get a replacement. Each time I call I preface the conversation, or try to, with a high level overview of why I'm calling, and that I'm calling only to log the issue and get a replacement part, and that I'm not interested in trouble shooting.

This call started off ok, but as soon as the tech support rep mentioned that the product lasts up to 7 days and this one failed on day 6, they weren't going to issue a replacement.

I took a deep breath, and reiterated the ongoing issue, and that if they couldn't issue the replacement, to transfer me to someone else. They didn't transfer me, though while they were entering the information in their system said "Maybe this product just isn't right for you." They are probably right, but that comment at that time wasn't helpful, and kind of not appropriate. At least they didn't say "sorry." That drives me even nuttier.

Note: the issue with the product not lasting the full 7 days is that my insurance issues this product, and I'm only covered for a 7-day wear. Anything less means I'm short this medical device. And to state the obvious, it's consistently not lasting as long as it should.

On the surface I know this doesn't seem bad. (Did I mention I might be a curmudgeon?) I've placed approximately 45 calls before this one about this issue.

If you are asking yourself "why is she still using this product?" I very often ask myself the same thing. The hard part is when it works, it's amazing. It truly helps me manage my diabetes much better than without it. I really like the product. When it works.

I'm stubborn and want to fix it, and I want to help make sure the company is doing everything it to fix it. I know I'm not the only person who experiences this, though most people switch manufacturers as soon as they can.

Call 2 Medical device supply team (same company above, different support team)

  • Time on the phone including hold time: 39 minutes

  • Reason for all: Medical device supply order not shipped

Two weeks ago I received a text reminder that I was due for my next shipment of supplies. I responded "yes" and went about my day.

I realized earlier last week that i hadn't yet received my supplies, and hadn't received any additional communications about the order. So, I called for update.

I learned that at the time of my text response that they were switching systems and some text message responses got lost. I mentioned that I was surprised there weren't any communications about this given known issue. I was informed they didn't know it was an issue until people started calling in. That makes sense, but I'd think after a few calls like that, it would have activated an escalation for an email to be sent to all customers. The person on the phone wasn't able to address that, and we moved on. While in my account they noticed some issue with my health insurance and told me she'd send it on to another team, and I'd be all set. Sorry, but no. Given the discussion we JUST had about communication issues I didn't trust the problem to be fixed once we disconnected. I preferred to wait until they were able to confirm it was all set, even though that meant staying on hold for 30+ minutes.

I'm happy to report I received my supplies 3 days later.

Call 3: Medical office - New patient appointment

Since I wasn't aggravated enough, I decided it was a good time make an appointment with a diabetes endocrinologist at a new-to-me diabetes clinic.

  • Time on the phone: 10 minutes across 2 calls

  • Reason for call: I've been meaning to move my diabetes care to another clinic. I've really my endocrinologists, and diabetes educators but getting help or support outside of an in-person appointment is a struggle.

The follows:

  • Me: I'm calling to me an appointment with Dr. Jones <made up name>

  • Office: We'll need a referral.

  • Me: My insurance doesn't require a referral.

  • Office: Then we need a letter from the doctor that diagnosed your diabetes.

  • Me: That happened more than 40 years ago, can you tell me how this works?

  • Them: Uhm. I'll need to call you back.

I called back and was able to speak with someone else. While on the phone with them, they asked me what insulin pump I'm on, and when told them, they suggested I upgrade to another brand. While that may be true, I didn't think that should have been part of a conversation to make an appointment by someone with whom I had no previous conversation with.

This wasn't the worst experience, not the best. The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Call 4: Medical office - Expired prescription (not the same office as above)

  • Time on the phone: 8 minutes

  • Reason for call: Expired prescription

The conversation follows:

  • Me: I'm a patient of Dr. Blue and I am in need of a new prescription for Lisinopril, 20 mg.

  • Them: I see a prescription for 5 mg of Lisinopril, and one for 20 mg of Prinivil. I don't see one for 20 mg of Lisinopril. What are you taking?

  • Me: According to CVS Caremark, and the prescription bottles I have in front of me of each of these, I'm taking 5 mg of Lisinopril, and 20 mg of Lisinopril. Two different doses at 2 different times of the day.

  • Them: What about Prinivil?

  • Me: I'm not sure about Prinivil.... As I'm saying this they are laughing, and surprised that I don't know what my medications are.

  • Me: continuing where I was before being interrupted by their laughter: I'm pretty sure one is the generic version, but you'd need to confirm with the doctor.

  • Them: Oh, let me see your records. Yeah, I see. It is the same thing.

Who's laughing now? Me. Kinda.

So there you have it. This post isn't intended to disparage customer service or customer support. I imagine they are inundated with calls and curmudgeony customers on a regular basis. My intention is to share that these other health-related struggles are real, and they typically have to be dealt with during the same hours as my job. Which means while I'm frustrated on one call, I may very well have to jump onto a call for work and put on a happy face. Working in diabetes, my colleagues do get it and offer great support as well even though I've learned over the years how to compartmentalize some things in order to move on to the next.

These types of interactions aren't unique to me, aren't unique to diabetes, and aren't unique to Boston. Though when you live with a chronic disease the frequency at which these happen is

Last week's experiences left me frustrated, defeated, ready to throw in the towel. I did wallow a bit, but was able to pull myself out of my funk and refocus. It also sparked the need to write a blog post - something I haven't done in a while,

Questions? Comments? Drop me a phyllis at

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