The Million of Us
My body wants to die. Something happened in my immune system 15 years ago, that caused my body to attack my pancreas, ultimately rendering that little organ impotent. Had it not been for insulin, I would have died a few days later.
15 years later, I’m still here, seemingly toeing the line between being grateful for that initial dose, and harboring bitterness towards the drug because of all the pain and suffering I have had to endure since April 1, 2002. I’ve come to my senses strapped to a stretcher, convulsing in a speeding ambulance, sugar water pumping into my veins; and I’ve been financially castrated, limping into adulthood, with hardly a semblance of what it is like to be an independent man at 33.
For the first time in my life (more specifically, my diabetic life), I’m seeing signs of a revolution. Or at least a revelation to the masses. During this electoral year, with the appearance of certain public figures, people are starting to feel trapped in a society where they do not feel represented by the powers that be (and those that will be).
It is becoming more obvious that we live within the confines of an oligarchy, where our hard-earned money is going into the pockets of tycoons of every stripe. If the same fervor from the disadvantaged continues in potency and consistency, those old views will topple over. Let’s hope. I’m here to bring a voice to some of my blood brothers and sisters who live life trapped in a syringe, watching their essence drip out of the needlepoint a day at a time. I’m here to reveal that we, as human beings meant to die, are still alive.
We are tired of being vessels of income for the men in suits making billions of dollars off of our will to live.
How is it that, in a country so accustomed to singing its own praises, a demographic of over a million battle-hardened Type 1 diabetics are getting sucked dry of their hard-earned wages while simultaneously sparring with the ever-present hardships of a brutal and indifferent condition? Even after the dawn of Obamacare, which has given millions of people hope, the unregulated pharmaceutical industry continues to invent prices for Type 1 diabetes supplies because they know we depend on the barbaric technology to live. My happiness (my life) truly does wear a price tag.
When the necessities are paid for, I often wonder at how I will afford my three square meals, or how I’ll fly home to meet my nephew. Or how I’ll manage to raise children of my own. This is the blow to my happiness. The American Dream, where EVERY American is entitled to health and happiness through hard work and planning, doesn’t apply to us. We are the forgotten ones fending off the ignorance of strangers and loved ones alike.
If we trip and fall, by ‘mismanaging’ our condition, we must accept that it was our own doing, in that we have the ‘best healthcare system in the entire world’. These are the things the non-diabetic magnates on top of the industry say. These are the things the non-diabetic doctors say. These are the things non-diabetics say. You audacious scoundrels. There is no such thing as having a handle on Type 1 diabetes.
Often, if I have a good week, with good blood sugars, it seems a change in the direction of the wind derails my ‘control’ and I spiral downward for a week or so until I realize that my insulin may have gone bad. Or did it? There goes another four hundred dollars replacing insulin I only suspected of going bad, only to continue watching very large numbers materialize on my blood testing meter. Then I start taking larger doses because I begin to think that perhaps my body’s sensitivity to insulin has dropped off. Not long after that, I awake in an ambulance and a $10,000 bill and the frightening notion that any day a piece of hardware can fail, a vial of insulin can spoil, and I can die a slave to some faceless a**hole on his yacht. I still feel as lost and helpless today as I did holding that first shaky syringe to my belly a decade and a half ago.
They are laughing at the bewilderment of The Million of Us. They’re fully aware that a disease so indifferent in its musings has dismantled our mental fortitude and our collective strength. If we fight, it will only be in isolated pockets—on a minuscule basis. How strong can a few financially frustrated Type 1s really be? Before long, they’ll give up or die. How will they begin to mount a defense when it is nearly impossible for them to explain what exactly it is they must confront to survive? How can they retaliate when their emotional capacity is consistently consumed by the notion that their lives are in constant danger, and that most of their energies should be committed to enjoying the few carefree and humane moments they experience? Let’s increase their burden by four hundred percent.
How did these practices of price gouging and profiting off of our daily struggle become principle in this country? How, in an age of such loud voices, did a population of over a million disenfranchised people become a boon to the billionaire Big Pharma executives without anyone really knowing about it?
The price of insulin has increased exponentially in the fifteen years I’ve had the disease. And it continues to rise as programs such as Obamacare and Medicare are implemented to act as a barrier between us and poverty. While scientists and researchers work around the clock to eradicate Type 1 diabetes from the 21st century mindset, drug tycoons are ramping up efforts to capitalize while they can.
What we need now is unity. Annoy your family and friends with horror stories about your war. Whatever spare funds you have, donate to the production of The Human Trial — a documentary about groundbreaking cure research being done right now. Solidarity is the foundation of forward movement. At this moment, researchers are relying primarily on people directly affected by Type 1 diabetes to fund their research because the government has a tendency to misallocate funds and stalls at the demands of pharmaceutical lobbyists.
With the same energy we put into getting through the day unscathed, we must devote it to being vocal and adamant about our right to affordable medicine. Beyond that, we must rally for a cure so that we can return to society as strong and fearless individuals. We are living in historic times. Things haven’t looked this bad in awhile. But as Type 1 diabetics, ‘what else is new?’ The greed of a few is more apparent and the suffering of The Million is dying to be found out.
The Cost of Staying Alive by Charity Shuster-Gormley.