The discomfort of being in the spotlight

Yesterday a CBC camera guy was in my house with multiple lights and a huge camera aimed at me while I talked to a reporter (via Facetime) about diabetes. First, I have to say that I HATE talking about diabetes because I always feel I’m terrible at managing it. Cue the shame and self-blame.

The interview came after a few days’ interaction with two Vancouver reporters (one writes online articles, the other does segments for CBC TV). I’d brought it on myself, as I wrote an email to CBC in response to an article about challenges diabetic people have getting access to necessary medication through the Special Authority process.

On Wednesday morning, a few hours before I saw this article online, I awoke with hypoglycaemia, a life-threatening event that occurs with low-glucose levels. I had injected too much insulin in the night and, because my Dexcom prescription had expired, I had no alarms going off to save me from a catastrophic health event. I saved myself in this instance by gobbling down gummies and chocolate.

The article hit home because it was aimed at patients who have doctors, and I am like many people these days who don’t have a doctor — there are none taking on new patients. I had to go to a walk-in clinic to get a doctor to generate the application for SA. I wrote to the reporters saying that I am waiting for an approval for my application, and am told it could take a few days or, due to a backlog, six weeks or so. My pharmacist will be the first to know, but he can’t just call me like a doctor could. I have to go in and check if the SA has been approved.

The reporters liked that I had a viewpoint on the issue, and that the doctor crisis raised a whole new level of concern for those of us who are dealing with serious health issues. They were also aware that I, as a retired journalist, knew a good angle when I saw it. My aim wasn’t to fast-track my application by public exposure, but to raise the issue before the provincial politicians that patients without doctors are in dire need of help.

It’s important to repeat here that I hate talking about diabetes. And this interview came the day after the death of a friend and neighbour, Evelyn. Regular readers will know I don’t handle grief well. I stuff it down and am left with brain fog and a sense of emptiness. I mentioned this to the reporter before the interviewer and mentioned that I might seem a bit off, and here is why. She nodded and said, “It’s a reporter thing.”

I also confessed that, despite being sober for three years, I was craving whiskey. Alcohol has been a coping mechanism for many years, and now I’m learning to live without it. Later, instead of drinking, I turn to Netflix.

The interview went fine. I know these things seem long at the time but get edited down to a small portion of the original take. Then the camera guy shot footage of me talking about how the Dexcom meter worked — I had the last sensor I’d removed from my belly as a prop. I showed the tiny fibre that is under the skin, reading glucose levels from interstitial tissues. I showed my phone with the app I’d normally see my glucose levels, but only showing a blank screen and the instruction to insert a new sensor. He wanted to see how I tested my glucose with my old-style glucose meter, and the shame/blame sprang to life when it showed my glucose was at 16 mmols.

(Don’t tell anyone but it was above 20 mmols that morning when I awoke. My resistance to taking long-term insulin due to its propensity to pile on weight leaves me with super-high morning glucose. So far, no complications.)

Still, I was embarrassed at the on-camera level, but on the other hand it’s the truth. I am presenting as someone who needs her Dexcom to manage her glucose, and a doctor to oversee everything.

The best part of the interview was me taking my dogs for a walk. I hope that part makes the final cut. It’s supposed to air next week. I don’t think I can watch it. The reporter also told me that they’d asked the health minister about me, and my particulars were passed along.

“You might get a phone call,” the reporter said.

Well, fine. That solves one case out of how many thousands? I’m not going public like someone who feels ripped off by an airline. I’m representing many, many people who don’t have a voice because they don’t have a doctor. And the consequences we face can be fatal. So fix the damned problem.

Now I’m going back to grieving the loss of my friend. I’m not sure how to get past the numbness, but I’m going to try. The closest I’ve come to emotions was getting a text from her son yesterday: “How are you holding up?”


It reminded me that I’m probably not doing very well, under all the fog and numbness. I expect my body is screaming through my glucose levels, but I hear them. Hopefully my Dexcom will be renewed soon.

One response to “The discomfort of being in the spotlight”

  1. I hope you are “holding up” adequately. You never forget and always have a thought or feeling for the rest of your life, but you do get to function and enjoy things better as time goes by. You know … just like I know.

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