I was today-years-old when I found out it was World Diabetes Day. November 14th marks the occasion because it’s the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin with Charles Best in 1922.
World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006, so this is the 13th year for the campaign that aims to raise awareness and promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue.
I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes in August 19, 1993. I’d celebrated my 13th birthday just over a month prior.
That day my mother took my brothers and I to see Michael J Fox’s movie “Life with Mickey.” I watched the film between trips to the bathroom and the concession stand for more soda. Afterwards, my mother knew something was wrong, so she took me to the doctor. One routine blood test later, I was in the hospital.
It was 1 PM that sunny summer afternoon when I was admitted into Baptist Hospital with a blood sugar of 868. I walked in. The doctor said it was a minor miracle I was still conscious.
Three hours later, after my first dose of insulin, my blood sugar dropped to 622.
If I didn’t live in the US, I might not have survived. If I wasn’t diagnosed in the late 20th century, I probably don’t survive.
But I did, and I do. I live a blessed life, married to a wonderful woman and father to two incredible children.
It’s been 26 years and I only found out about WDD because I stumbled across it on Twitter.
I learned that the blue circle logo is the global symbol for diabetes awareness, and it signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes epidemic.
I’m one of the lucky ones that has never had to worry about where my next insulin shot was coming from or if I was going to run out of blood sugar test strips. I know I’m blessed in part because of my parents’ hard work on my behalf.
But I also know there’s a global insulin crisis and that there are thousands upon thousands of people who can’t say the same thing.
I got a cursory, terrifying glimpse of what life would be like without insurance when, after a recent doctor’s visit, I had forgotten to share with them my updated insurance information.
I received the bill a month later.
$150 for the office visit (which included less than ten minutes of time with the actual endocrinologist.) And $486.41 for the blood work that day. Without insurance, a visit to the doctor’s office that lasted less than 30 minutes total would have cost over $600.
That’s not counting the cost of the insulins (I take two different types), or the continuous glucose monitor sensors, or the monitor’s transmitters. It doesn’t include the lancets, or pen needles, or blood sugar test strips, or the glucose meter.
According to a T1International Insulin & Diabetes Supply survey from March of 2016, the out-of-pocket monthly diabetes cost in the US was $360. It’s only gone up since then.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there are more than seven million diabetics in this country, and around 27% say that affording insulin has impacted their daily life.
According to the CDC, approximately 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, and an estimated 40,000 people are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes each year. By 2050, 5 million people are expected to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
And the rates for Type-1 Diabetes continue to climb.
Type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 disease that requires constant management. People with T1D continuously balance insulin intake with eating, exercise and other activities. We also measure blood-sugar levels through finger pricks, ideally at least six times a day, or by wearing a continuous glucose monitor.
Even with a strict regimen, people with T1D still experience dangerously high or low blood-glucose levels that can, in extreme cases, be life threatening. Every person with T1D becomes actively involved in managing his or her disease.
Insulin therapy keeps people with T1D alive and can help keep blood-glucose levels within recommended range, it is not a cure, nor does it prevent the possibility of T1D’s serious effects.
Humalog can cost as little as $38 in Canada and yet Americans are charged up to $329. Now Eli Lilly is lowering the price in the U.S. for selected customers to $140. Charging Americans 4x what Canadians pay for the same drug hardly merits an outpouring of national gratitude. https://t.co/NnxC2ERbKG
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) March 4, 2019
Check out T1International’s site fighting for affordable insulin for all.
World Diabetes Day (WDD) was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. Check out their site as well.
I’m lucky, and I live my full and happy life knowing that full well. I will continue to manage my condition, and fight for those who are not as lucky as I am.