Lack of education is a consistent problem within medical circles, meaning that many people view certain illnesses through a lens that’s not befitting or may not be appropriate to the actualities that a sufferer feels. One good example are all these videos you see on line where someone will approach a driver parking in a handicap spot and start betraying them Fort parking there, despite having a handicap placard. The ‘complainer” has no fuckin’ clue what internal issues that person may be dealing with, but they always seem to assume they shouldn’t be parking there.
The same can be said of Diabetes… When I was first diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes, I can easily admit that I thought very little about it, other than the fact I was getting free food while in the hospital. To my credit, I was only 4-years old at the time but even as I got a bit older, the innocence of childhood kept me rooted in the belief that nothing would happen to me because, well, I was a kid! And bad things don’t happen to kids, right? Oh, I was so wrong…
Throughout my life, I’ve gotten some of the worst comments about my Diabetes. Any of you who have read previous posts will already be aware that telling me that “it could be worse” is without a doubt one of my biggest pet peeves. What an absolute verbal slap in the face, to tell someone with a life-long autoimmune disorder that has no cure and debilitates, that it could be worse… Sure, I know it could. But that doesn’t make my journey any less difficult.
I have no illusions that Diabetes is alone in that arena but the reality is that there are a number of issues that a person with Type-1 faces that anyone external looking in may not notice. One good example, and likely the best, is the lack of access to insulin. For most people, they’re of the impression that so long as you eat well and take insulin, Diabetes pretty much leaves you alone. unfortunately, this is about as far from the truth as one can get…
Insulin is required for more than just controlling blood sugars. The reality is that prior to the creation and wide distribution of insulin, someone with type-1 Diabetes usually only lived for about 10 to 14 days, at most. Diabetic Ketoacidosis would kick in and the patient would soon succumb. That’s why I always have a bit of a laugh when someone says, “Why don’t you just eat completely carb-free to and exercise to keep blood sugars down?” Ah, if only it were that easy.
So, here’s problem: what if you can’t easily access or afford insulin? What do you do? Just curl up and wait to die, I guess? Not a year goes by that I don’t read about the rising costs of insulin and how some people will go to such extremes measures as ordering insulin over Amazon or crossing borders to get it cheaper in another country. Imagine that? besides feeding and supporting a family and trying to make a life, yo-yo need to wonder where your next shot of life-sustaining hormone will come from? It’s through that lens that I write this post today.
I’ve lived through periods where I had to choose between buying food to get me through the week or splurging on a bottle of insulin to stay alive, albeit while starving. I’ve dealt with having to ration and manage how much insulin I used, stretching a single vial to twice or even three times it’s intended capacity, in order to make it to that next paycheque that would let me get another bottle. I’ve also dealt with failing health care systems that don’t acknowledge the fact that like many other illnesses, this isn’t going away, it’s for life and that life will dramatically shortened if I don’t have the benefit of proper medical attention and the medications I need to live.
These days, I’m pretty fortunate and I count my lucky stars because I’m in the employ of a career that provide medical coverage for everything I need. The insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring has been a life-altering option that’s almost guaranteed to have added years to my life. Not everyone is as fortunate, which is why when I post about nasty side effects, the negative side of Diabetes and how I’m just tired of it all, it’s done for educational purposes and not necessarily to complain.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way… Although life has had some rough climbs, over jagged rocks and while barefooted, I’ve managed and fought my way through. Life is worth it and only by fighting for it can one keep a grasp on it, however tenuous… I may look healthy, I may eat well, live reasonably well, exercise and maintain myself but make no mistake; beneath the veneer of all my efforts lies a tumultuous storm of complications that I’m keeping at bay. And the first time I fall asleep at the helm could be all it takes. Food for thought… ☯️