« Six Since 'Six Until Me.' | Main | The Word ... »

Guest Post: Alabama PWDs Need Your Help.

This guest post is from fellow diabetes blogger Victoria Cumbow, and her message couldn't be more important.  She is a journalist by day and a diabetes advocate by night. She works a journalist for The Huntsville Times in Huntsville, AL, and is actively involved in her local diabetes community.  Victoria regularly blogs about her life as a young professional living with type 1 diabetes at Dia-Beat-This, and tweets as @victoriacumbow. And today she's writing about the tornadoes in Alabama and their effect on our fellow PWD.  Please read her post, see if you can help, and pass this info on!!

*  *  *

Photo credit to Victoria Cumbow and her cell phone.Last week, my state was devastated beyond belief after a series of tornadoes swept across the northern counties of Alabama. In Madison County, where I live, eight people died. In DeKalb County, 33 people lost their lives. In another county, 39 people died. In another, 35. So far, more than 230 lives have been lost, but in Tuscaloosa, more than 200 people are still missing and unaccounted for.
As a newspaper journalist, I've seen this devastation first-hand. It's beyond anything you can imagine. The pictures don't show the pain and the suffering. The pictures don't show the heartbreak and the loss. Volunteers have stepped up and answered the call, but there's another need people sometimes forget in moments of natural disaster and chaos -- the needs of diabetics.
In Alabama, 10 percent of the population lives with a form of diabetes, per the CDC. So what the pictures don't show are the dozens, if not hundreds, of diabetics affected by these storms. I spoke to a woman three days ago who called me desperate for insulin. She had enough Novalog to last two more days, but had been without Lantus for several days. She couldn't reach her doctor because there was no power throughout the county for six days. Through donations from the DOC, she now has a vial of both.
So in addition to the disaster left behind by the twisters, we were left to pick up the pieces in the dark. No refrigerators, no gas, no cell phones once they died. People lost every belonging they owned, and some lost every diabetic supply they had stored. No meters. No strips. No glucose tabs. No pumps. No way to test ketones. With no power, the only thing to eat were carbs and junk food. Most proteins were lost with the power of refrigerators.
I wanted to help, but from my newsroom, I couldn't do very much other than through my words. So I began to write. I blogged about our immediate needs and people began to respond. I blogged more, I tweeted more and I Facebooked more. People from across the DOC answered the call. And they're not finished yet. We are still in need of many supplies. For starters, the biggest needs include meters, strips and all types of insulin. Beyond that, anything else is appreciated. You can send:

  • pump supplies
  • syringes
  • lancets
  • alcohol swabs
  • batteries for pumps and meters
  • glucose tablets
  • glucagon
  • ketone strips

And anything else you can think of. Please make sure all supplies are unopened and not expired. If mailing insulin, please package properly. Also make sure any personal labels are removed from the packages.
All supplies can be mailed to the Huntsville JDRF office at 2225 Drake Ave., Office 17, Suite K, Huntsville, Alabama 35805. Mark the box as D-Supplies for Tornado Relief. Address them to Victoria Cumbow and Karen Morris.
So far, this volunteer effort has been incredible as local JDRF and ADA offices are working together with local politicians, the Medical Reserve Corps and local endocrinology offices. As a friend said, a ripple is small, but many ripples make a wave.

*   *   *

To further these efforts, you can also help by making a donation to the local Alabama Red Cross at this address: 1101 Washington Street, Huntsville, AL 35801. People can also donate $10 to relief efforts by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999.  Help make a wave!!!


victoria, i already told you this, but YOU ROCK!!! :)

This is incredibly heartwarming.

I wonder, though, why people won't help the rest of the world. A world that lives without the luxury of a fridge, meters, and strips day in and day out.

Thanks for sharing...I am going to go and pick up some extra supplies today and send them down. Hearing about this really highlights (for me, anyway) the need to have not only extra supplies on hand, but also the ability to know how to use MDI and other types of insulin in a pinch. I once forgot my lantus when on a business trip and, thankfully, knew how to use NPH as a substitute (available at the local walmart without an Rx). While I love my pump, I periodically take pump vacations to ensure that I can maintain myself on injections in a pinch.

One thing I would like to see is more "disaster preparedness" in the D community, especially when it comes to endos giving out advice/instructions. This was something that was discussed immediately after Sept 11, 2001, but we don't hear about it much anymore. I think it's a discussion that needs to be started again.

Victoria -
I think it's amazing what you're doing!
As I've told you before, anything I can do, consider it done!
I also think it's amazing and telling, how much the DOC is stepping up!

Perfect. I've been wondering what I should do with my Minimed supplies since I got my Omnipod.

This is very great to see our community coming together in times where tragedies like this happen. Very inspiring stuff. Thanks for what you're doing, Victoria and Karen! That disaster preparedness is something that people in general don't do, and adding in the D-Component is just as uncommon. I was pleased to see recently Forecast and some other Endo-specific publications writing about this topic.

Awesome! Since going on the pump, I have TONS of pen needles that would have sat in my closet forever. Going to send this weekend. Thanks for the info!

i have extra lantus i can send; is packing it properly making sure it won't get broken or does it need to be shipped cold?

This is very timely. My insurance company just sent me a three month supply of syringes - in the wrong size. (.5ml rather than the .3 which my doc wrote the script out for.)

Once we got this sorted, they told me not to send them back. I've been wondering what to do so someone else would benefit from them. I'm going to repackage and send out within the week.

My naughty/lovely cat, Simba, will miss them as he enjoys ruttleing around in the crackly brown packing paper and then fall alseep in the middle of it for hours at a time.

I will start looking for extra supplies...I have strips and an extra meter...maybe two..will send down this weekend. I can't even imagine going thru hell to find out my sons supplies were gone too...what a nightmare! Thanks for bringing attention to a desperate situation.

God bless you for getting the word out. I participate in research studies and am often given extra supplies, most of which I can't use once the study is completed. I'm so glad to send them on to such a worthy cause.

I might have extra MDI supplies.. I just have to check the expiration date. I'll see what I can do. I can't imagine what I would do without diabetes supplies.

Kerri and Victoria,

I'm from Tuscaloosa and just wanted to say thank you so much for getting the word our. The ADA has also solicited donations from diabetes supply companies, so PWD can call (205)-870-5172 and be connected with someone who can help get them diabetes supplies.

doing a collection at work and around town for this... also placing this info in the local papers i work for!

Just sent your message to my employer. We'd like to help.

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)