The President of the International Diabetes Federation speaks in this video.
I was compelled to write about it. He makes a passionate case for the need to cause an uproar of outrage against the injustices regarding diabetes. Every day, people die in the world because they don’t have access to life-saving insulin. It’s an outrage that a person should have to live with needles and finger pricks and the cost of those things. It’s an outrage that a person should have part of their childhood torn away. It’s an outrage that a person should face daily risk of death and daily worry of future complications because of diabetes.
But what do we call a child, an adult, who dies because they were not even given the chance to fight diabetes?
If something disrupts my insulin supply, I am dead before 2 weeks pass. It’s that fast. Insulin is THAT monumental to someone with diabetes. I walk around seemingly healthy, without a care in the world and unless you got to know me you wouldn’t know that I walk around with my life saving insulin in my purse at all times.
Let me tell you a story that illustrates how I feel about my life-saving insulin. Years ago when I was about 19 years old, I was leaving a club where I had just spent some time with friends, dancing. On my way back to my car that night, someone sprinted past me and snatched my purse from my hand. I know what a safety conscious person does and normally I’m that person but the only thought that went through my mind was, “My insulin and my glucose meter are in there!” So I ran. I took off running after a theft. Poor guy, he didn’t know he had my insulin and that to me, that was like ripping off my arm. So I left my heels on the pavement and I sprinted after the guy. Back then I was really fast and I caught up to him because he didn’t think I’d chase him. He went over two cars at some point and I followed him right over those vehicles.
I knew that screaming was a good thing because it got people’s attention so I shrieked like a mad woman, “Give me back my purse, you don’t know what’s in there, I need what’s in there!” I’m was quite loud and got the attention of a police officer on his bike. He followed after us and pleaded for me to stop. I couldn’t. I had this one track mind and the thought that I could easily replace all of my purse’s contents did not cross my mind. We reached a dead end where the scared-out-of-his-mind guy threw my purse at me and just heaved in and out in exhaustion. The police officer told me I was insane as he ran over to the theft-which just looked like a 16 year old boy to me.
There is a psychological effect that occurs in a person whose life relies on a drug, I think. There is a particular pain that comes with knowing that your life relies on the contents of a tiny vial. It’s sort of humbling but it’s also frustrating. I think that’s what I acted on when my purse was taken. I felt, panicky, in a sense and also as if some great injustice had been done to me. I thought, “How dare you steal THIS?”
The thing is, I’m lucky enough to always have access to insulin because I have enough money to go to the pharmacy down the street and buy it any time I need it.
To me, the greatest injustice out there in the world of diabetes isn’t how we’re stereotyped or how our lives are so challenged. It’s not how my childhood was spent largely depressed and worried that I would never fit in or do what I wanted or live as long as I could.
The greatest injustice is people with diabetes dying because they don’t have access to insulin or the medications that keep them alive. We’re not talking about someone thriving or being healthy, we’re talking about someone having the chance to live another day with diabetes. We’re talking about the bare minimum-which by the way, isn’t enough. But, we should at least be reaching this bare minimum.
We owe it to these people to take care of ourselves, to make good decisions, to be kind to one another. We owe it to them to be their voice because they hardly have one. They’re too busy trying to survive. We’re trying to survive, too but we have so much more than so many others. As humans we should feel obligated to stand up for one another and make sure we treat others with the same respect we’d have shown to us. We can raise money for a cure, we can demand improvements on our health care, we can work to put an end to negative stereotypes, but we should also work to ensure everyone receives their most basic natural human right to a fighting chance in this life.
For someone with diabetes, this chance begins with insulin.
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