I’ve Stopped Reading the News

Prior to leaving for my vacation more than a week ago, I wrote about how burnt out I felt, and how much I needed to unplug from the world and its ugliness. Well, I made sure of it. I visited a place where I had no service, and there was no talk of politics or world events.

But when I plugged into Twitter four days later and saw news of Puerto Rico and the Graham-Cassidy health bill, I immediately shut it off. I haven’t read the news since. That doesn’t mean I don’t care; I care too much. That’s why this past year has been tumultuous for my physical and emotional health. The constant tide of health policy warranted that vacation alone.

And that week away from the news helped me find some inner peace again. It reminded me that I could be happy with the “little” wins, that I could still physically thrive in this unsure health landscape, and that I could love among the worst of circumstances. So, when I returned to DC a week ago, I decided I wasn’t ready to handle the news just yet. Continue reading

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Maybe I’m Just Looking for Small Fish and Crustaceans?

A few years ago, I visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. My brother and I stood by the Blacktip Reef exhibit, and the tan and black dotted fins of the zebra shark caught my eye. It seemed to be blind, and we watched as it banged its head against the coral over and over again. Then, it would rest its belly on the bottom for minutes at a time, exhausted from its seemingly fruitless expedition. I thought it was the funniest thing to witness.

But when I turned to the information on the zebra shark, I learned that the shark does this to hunt for small fish and crustaceans hiding within the coral. It doesn’t need to swim to breathe so it rests on its belly in between hunting sessions.

Earlier today, I felt exhausted, too, from seemingly banging my head against the wall over and over again for the past seven months. I started to wonder if I was perpetually depressed due to the anxiety induced by our current political and health care climate. It was even starting to manifest itself in physical form – I’d had ongoing headaches and heartburn for weeks. Continue reading

Rising Health Care Costs: The T1D Label

I’m nervous about the future of health care in this country, especially for type 1 diabetics like myself. I was diagnosed almost five years ago at the age of 22. I have no family history, and there was no evidence of an autoimmune attack so the doctors do not know why my pancreas just stopped making insulin. But it did.

Many researchers point to a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers. With the amount of chemicals plaguing our food and our household products, that’s not so surprising. But then why, among my two brothers and a mother and father, was I the only one that contracted diabetes? When I was diagnosed, my parents were surprised, mostly because out of everyone in our family, I was the only one who made a daily, concerted effort to eat right and exercise. What was it for?

This is a question I no longer ask, and I am thankful I have employer-sponsored health insurance that will cover the cost of my expensive disease. But when it comes to health care, I am one of “those” who potentially costs the system. I fall into the “high-risk pool.” From an evolutionary perspective, I should have been weeded out of the population five years ago. But here I am.

Even though I am no longer considered “young and healthy,” I still consider myself “young and healthy.” I manage my diabetes well with an insulin pump. I maintain an A1C of 5.6 (average blood sugar readings over the last 90 days). My average daily blood sugar readings range from 70 to 160. I still have bad days, and if I had a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system, I’m sure it would show a higher range, but when you have to survive on animal insulin injections and carb estimations, how much do people really expect you to get it perfect?

I’m thankful for the insurance I have, which allows me to afford my insulin pump supplies, my test strips and insulin doses. There was a time when I didn’t have coverage, when I had to pay for my “life source” out-of-pocket, and suffered the consequences (financial and physical). I’ve endured a health insurance roller coaster in the past four years. Continue reading