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Posts tagged ‘diabetes advocacy’

Diabetes Month: Meter Maid

What’s in the baaaaaaag?  C’mon … what’s in the bag?

Yep.  This little bag is with me at all times.  All.  Times.  My daughter picked it out years ago and I’ve been dragging it around the world with me since, housing essentials for my diabetes management.

Meter, test strips, lancets, lancing device, an insulin pen in case of pump failure, and a pen needle tip.  (And chapstick, but that’s not essential for diabetes.  Just for lips.)  With these things, I can calibrate my CGM, keep track of my glucose results, and take a dose of insulin if needed.

Without these things, I’m not okay.  Not healthy.  And without these things for several days, I’m dead.

Humbling what sits in a pencil case bag.

Come back every day in November for a look into life with diabetes, from the perspectives of people living with it, clinicians caring for us, and the caregivers who support us.

DBlogWeek 2017: The Cost of Chronic Illness.

Diabetes Blog Week prompt for Tuesday:  Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly. Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage. So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care. Do you have advice to share? For those outside the US, is cost a concern? Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?

Aaaaaaarrgggghhhhhh this post has me writing and erasing sentences left and right.  I’m not even sure where to start.  This whole topic frustrates me.  Best to jump right in:

I remember, when I was small and under my parents’ care, my parents had to battle with their insurance company to cover more than four blood glucose test strips per day for me.  Since becoming an adult, I’ve had good insurance where my deductible was $300, out of pocket max was $500, and all of my supplies were covered at 100% so long as I was “in network.”  I’ve had crappy insurance where my deductible was $5000, no out of pocket max, and my pump supplies were covered 80/20.  (Those two years were the most I’ve ever spent on care in my life.) I’ve never been without insurance because I was raised fearing a lapse in coverage.  When I graduated college, I had a job that started three days later so that I wouldn’t have a coverage gap.  I remember when Chris and I were first married, we struggled to find an insurance policy to cover the two of us in a way that we could afford while also providing decent coverage for my persistent medical needs.

Living without insurance coverage was always presented as a “DO NOT,” but as the years have gone on and greed, corruption, and the breakdown of the healthcare (wealthcare) system became dominant over caring for patients, I’ve seen how being insured can still break your finances apart.  Families struggle to make medical ends meet and oftentimes can’t, making awful decisions – if you can even call them that – between paying rent and buying medication.

I am not a conspiracy theorist.  But what the fuck, Pharma … why are you always raising prices on essential drugs?  Because you know we’re trapped?  Why did insulin cost like $45 per bottle when I was diagnosed but is now upwards of $280?  I can only understand so much R&D because after a while, it starts to read like GREED.

Reading articles like these give me such rage (with a side of panic):

Insulin price hikes tell us a lot about what’s wrong with drug pricing in America

Eli Lilly Raises Insulin Prices While ‘Supporting’ People With Diabetes

On Lilly’s unconscionable insulin price increase

Doubt what they say. Believe what they do.

Eli Lilly raised prices on 9 drugs last week

Patients Beg For Pricey Drugs On Facebook Black Market

And I see a dozen different advocacy groups working towards the same goals – improving access for people with diabetes – but they aren’t always working together, which is infuriating to watch.  (Also, Melissa Lee wrote a great note on Facebook about the word “access” – read here.)  I do not know the behind-the-scenes details of which org is talking to who and what funds what and who has opinions on what sort of things, mostly because I’ve been out of the loop for the better part of a year (something about an infant invading my home), but looking at the community from 10,000 feet, there are a lot of dots.  And they could use some connecting.  And to be totally honest, I have no idea how that will happen.

Check out these orgs/efforts/opportunities and see if anything leaps out at you.

Check out the T1International Diabetes Access Advocacy Toolkit

Join the Access Alliance

Join the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition

Download the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition app

Take action with the American Diabetes Organization

Support JDRF advocacy campaigns

Explore Beyond Type 1’s Focus on Access

International Diabetes Federation’s Advocacy resources

The 5Calls.org website is always awesome for policy action (not just healthcare)

Because here’s the thing:  our community is divided by a dozen different things but we are UNITED by our common circumstance:  diabetes.  By uniting and raising our voices with compassion and conviction, we can make the difference and become the change our community deserves.  The cost of chronic illness is staggering, but the price of staying silent will make matters worse.

… and how great is Diabetes Blog Week, serving as the opportunity you may have been waiting for to get loud.

 

The Patient Voice 2016: Bridging the Diabetes Gaps

Happy Friday, friends!  Today, Marina Tsaplina is borrowing the blog to help spread the word about an event she is hosting in New York City on March 20th.  It’s the debut event for The Betes organization, and the goal is to give rise to discussions about the emotional influence of chronic illness.  Part of the presentation will be a discussion about diabetes-related complications, which is a topic that we remain guarded and careful about, as a community.  I’m excited to see that topic cracked open in such a way, and Marina’s methods of tackling topics with creativity and passion should be a don’t-miss-it experience.

  *   *   *

Hi everyone! Kerri generously gave me a chance to write to you about an upcoming event for the diabetes community — in NYC on Sunday March 20.

Please join us!

Here’s some info:
Event: The Patient Voice 2016: Bridging the Diabetes Gaps
Date: Sunday March 20, 2016
Time: 1:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: 417 e. 61st street, Manhattan

Q: But wait– What’s this all about?!
A: This is the launch event of THE BETES Organization.

Q: Why does this matter to me?
A: Good question!

THE BETES work is about the lived experience of living with chronic illness- the mental health, the emotional well being, and the social dynamics. Our programming currently focuses on the type 1 diabetes space (I’ve had type 1 since I was 2 years old, so yes, it’s personal.)

That’s me in the video below.  It’s a short three minutes and should give you a good sense of how people have responded to our work and how it has touched lives.


Whatever your story is, coming to understand and express the rewards and hardships of living with a chronic condition, surrounded by community, is our task.

This act of expression gives validity to our narratives, and strengthens all of our voices, simultaneously helping those who we are surrounded by better understand the patient experience, strengthening communication and building compassion.

What we at THE BETES add to the mix is the transformative power of puppetry (yes, really!)- suddenly, all of this invisible stuff has form and shape, and we can all see it, talk to it, cry and laugh at it. It’s a powerfully unique creative tool.

The event will host a 45 minute section of our creative, participatory programming. One of our programs is on that big, scary topic of diabetes complications … it’s called the Invisible Elephant Project.

This is a sneak preview and world premiere of a major undertaking, where we have collected over 900 responses through a survey, and have led over 20 interviews with individuals. This will be followed by a heated discussion with a leading panel of patients, advocates, and clinicians, and will be followed by an award ceremony for our two honorees. This is in-between a wine reception with a top-notch live jazz trio.

It’s going to be incredible — but it will be even more incredible, with all of you with us. Actually and honestly, it will be completely no fun and meaningless without you.

We have people coming in from all over — so if you’re anywhere on the Northeast, and if you need a reason to come to NYC, this is it.

twitter hashtag: #ThePatientVoice2016
event registration page: http://bit.ly/PatientVoice

Friday Six: But Not On Friday.

SUM stuff from around the Internet:

“The latest in this trend is the meme showing a fat little girl titled ‘Lil Diabeetus snacks’ as a take-off to Little Debbie Snacks.  It’s being bandied about on FaceBook as ‘cute’ and ‘funny’; an appropriate name change.  Is it funny?  I don’t think so.”  Kate weighs in on the Facebook meme.

Tuesday’s #dblogcheck was a community success, and seems to have woken up many of the sleeping bears (if you want to picture blog commenters as sleeping bears, which I do, because that’s adorable).  Check out Chris Snider’s excellet Storify recap of many of the blog posts and be sure to say hello on some new and old blog favorites.

Wendy’s daughter has gone to Clara Barton Camp … and she’s also gone BIONIC.

Athletes inspire kids with diabetes at Friends for Life Conference” is the title of this video, but I’m going to assert that adults are pretty inspired by Charlie and Jay, too.

An eighth grader took She Still Smiles and made it into something really, really cool.  Read about Talia’s project here.

“Her former team dismissed her for having diabetes. Her coach and teammates stood by her and struck out on their own.”  Read more about Rebecca Young here, and consider supporting her!

I sent emails to my representatives.  Now it’s your turn.

The “Fakeabetes” Challenge – pretending to be a PWD for the day!  Read more from Kim and Whitney on this day with diabetes.

This post from Meri is a call-to-arms, and I’m ready.  “The Movement Has Begun.”

JDRF appoints Derek Rapp as new President & CEO – here’s more information on this change in leadership from the mothership itself, and a post about the changing leadership of ADA and JDRF on Diabetes Mine.

Why Should Diabetes Advocates Enter This Food Fight?”  Hope Warshaw explains.

“ADA and others have sent in their comments, but the FDA needs to hear our individual voices as advocates.”  You can give the FDA your thoughts on the proposed Nutrition Fact Label, and you have until August 1st to do so.  More on the how, and why, at Diabetes Advocates.

The FDA will host an online conversation (“A Virtual Town Hall”) for people with diabetes on November 3.  And, according to the crew at diaTribe, they want to hear from you!  Click this link for more information and the link to email diaTribe, and you can also join the conversation on Twitter using the #DOCasksFDA hashtag.

My favorite part of this video?  “I can read.”  Love, love, love.

Miss Idaho: #ShowMeYourPump!

Have you heard?  Sierra Sandison just earned the crown as Miss Idaho, and she accomplished her goal with an insulin pump clipped to her hip.  Yes, that’s right – another Miss America contender has hit the stage with diabetes front-and-center.  And since winning Miss Idaho barely a week ago, Sierra has already brought type 1 diabetes to the national stage via stories on NPR, People Magazine, Buzzfeed and a host of other media outlets.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just after she turned 18, Sierra is helping empower people with diabetes to wear their devices proudly with the #showmeyourpump hashtag as her rallying cry.  Today, Sierra is sharing some some of her diabetes story here on SUM.

Kerri:  Sierra, you were just crowned Miss Idaho and are off to compete for the Miss America crown this September.  Congratulations!  And you’re also living with type 1 diabetes!  Can you share a little bit about your diagnosis story?

Sierra:  My dad is a family practice physician, but I was diagnosed shortly after my 18th birthday and had recently moved out of my parents’ house, so we didn’t catch it as quickly as we could have if my dad had been able to see the symptoms. Fortunately, I was never hospitalized!

I was extremely thirsty and hungry! It finally got to a point where it was ridiculously inconvenient. One day, I was snowboarding, and had to buy water bottles every time I got done with a run. I would drink them on the way up the chairlift, and then have to “relieve” myself at the top, and then again when I got to the bottom. Then, the cycle would repeat. On the chairlift, I called my dad and said, “Dad, I have a problem. I am an aquaholic. Can I go to rehab for a water addiction?” He immediately knew what the real problem was, since my late uncle and grandpa had diabetes, and my second cousin does as well.

However, when it was confirmed, and 550 [mg/dL] popped up on the glucometer, I bawled and bawled and bawled. A diabetes educator came and spoke to my class the next day, because I was terrified that they would make comments along the lines of “it’s your fault”, “maybe if you ate healthier…”, etc.

Kerri:  I saw on your Facebook profile that you were proudly rocking your t:slim insulin pump onstage at Miss Idaho – were you nervous about showing the judges your diabetes device?  What made you decide to go for it and share openly?

Sierra:  I’m going to be completely honest, it still scares me sometimes to wear my insulin pump. Getting the confidence to wear it on stage has been a journey.

When I was first diagnosed, I hated diabetes so much. I just tried to ignore it, and let my blood sugar be high until I felt to sick to deal with it. It was awful. In July, my friend asked me to compete in our local pageant, Miss Magic Valley. I met the director for lunch, who told me everything that was involved. When our food arrived, I pulled out my insulin pen, and she immediately told me about Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999.

Nicole wore her insulin pump on the Miss America stage while she competed for her title. Knowing that has had such a huge impact on my confidence. As a young woman, we often long to look like the girls in the media: movie stars, super models, cover girls, etc. The media gives us unrealistic expectations, and most of us will never measure up. We soon begin to think that, because we are different from those girls we see, that we are somehow worth less, or less beautiful than them.

What a disgusting lie! Unfortunately, I don’t think we can ever completely escape the influence the media has on us. I hope that someday the media can be filled with a variety of beauty! That is one of the reasons I love the Miss America Organization:  Nicole Johnson rocking her insulin pump in 1999; Alexis Wineman, the first woman with autism to compete at Miss America, in 2012; Heather Whitestone, the first deaf Miss America in 1995; Nicole Kelley, Miss Iowa 2013, was born with one arm.  And countless more women who have inspired the country while competing at Miss America!

So, eventually, after thinking about, researching, and following Nicole Johnson, I got the guts to get a pump. However, it took me another year to compete with it.

This year at Miss Idaho, I was honestly terrified. I was nervous the judges wouldn’t ask me about it in my interview. I was nervous that the audience would be confused. I was scared the other contestants would think I was using it to try and get pity from the judges.

I walked into my interview, and the very first question was about diabetes. It was a huge relief. “I can do this,” I thought, until I walked out of the dressing room, and was immediately asked about the pump.  The person who asked me was Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Preteen, McCall Salinas. While my heart sunk when she first pointed it out, that quickly changed when she explained she was a diabetic, but was too scared to get a pump because of what people would think.

That was it. I was doing it. I was going to wear the pump for McCall, no matter what people said or thought, and no matter how badly it may affect my score. I walked on stage, and the rest is history.

Kerri:  Since the competition, you’ve also encouraged others to wear their devices proudly, with the #showmeyourpump hashtag/mantra.  What’s the response been like?

Sierra:  It has been so overwhelmingly AMAZING! You have to understand, I am a completely normal person. My sisters and I are getting embarrassingly excited about all my new followers and likes. It is so crazy how many people were so inspired by me doing such a simple thing! I was prepared for a lot of negative backlash for competing in a beauty pageant with a swimsuit competition involved, but as far as I know, most everyone has been positive!

The response to my #showmeyourpump campaign has been crazy as well! I can’t keep up—it is unreal! We have had responses from diabetics all over the country, and from all over the world. I have also heard from kids with hearing aids, feeding tubes, etc. How awesome that it is having an impact even beyond the DOC! Keep the pictures coming(:

Kerri:  Is diabetes advocacy part of your competition platform?  Can you tell me about how you plan to use your voice to improve diabetes awareness?

Sierra:  It was my original platform, but before I was Miss Idaho, I didn’t have much of a voice. My platform now is actually a program my sister and I started for kids with developmental disabilities. We put on sports camps for them! The program is called Possibilities for Disabilities. Originally, we just wanted to give them the chance to participate in the fun extracurricular activities their peers do, because we think that sports and music are important to adolescents in finding their identity, discovering their passions, and building confidence. What we soon realized is that the program was doing so much more! We have students at the high school volunteer as “student coaches” and work with the campers. By placing the kids with disabilities in a fun, empowering, positive environment with their peers, it breaks down barriers and helps the kids form friendships with their peers. This has transformed their lives more than anything else! The entire culture of the high school we work with has changed towards the kids in special ed. They have formed identities beyond their disabilities, and are accepted more than they ever would be at another school. I am so excited to have the opportunity to spread Possibilities across the state, and even across the nation, as Miss Idaho!

With my diabetes, the message I try to get across to everyone I come in contact with is this: whatever obstacle they are facing in their life, they can not only overcome it, but use it to become a stronger person, as well as impact the lives of others. There is one girl in my camp who is a high functioning autistic, and has decided to put on a Possibilities camp for her senior project next year. I am so excited. She is doing exactly what I hope I can inspire others to do: take their challenges and use them to serve others.

I love Possibilities for Disabilities, but now that I have a more powerful voice as a diabetic, I am ECSTATIC to use it! Who said I couldn’t have two platforms?

Kerri:  There’s a lot of discussion in the diabetes online community about diabetes stigma.  Have you ever been discriminated against in terms of diabetes?  How did you handle it?

Sierra:  Before my family and close friends were educated, there were some hurtful comments about how my diabetes was my fault, because of the confusion between type 1 and type 2. Aside from that, I cannot recall any other negative experiences, aside from confused and slightly cold questions about my insulin pump. I have been very fortunate!

Kerri:  How can the diabetes community help support you as you make your moves for Miss America?

Sierra:  In a couple weeks, all the Miss America contestants will be publishing their “People’s Choice” videos. America can vote one contestant into the top 15! Only the top 15 get to compete in the televised portion of the pageant. It would mean the world to me if the diabetic community would help me win People’s Choice to guarantee that I have the opportunity to compete with my pump on national television!

Kerri:  Sounds like a plan, Sierra.  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Sierra:  I am so happy I can have a voice to inspire others who are similar to me, and hope to serve the diabetes community to best of my ability this year! The best way to reach as many diabetics as possible is through the DOC and social media! You can follow my year as Miss Idaho in the following ways:

Twitter: @sierra_anne93, @missidorg
Instagram: missidahoorg, sierra_anne_nicole
Facebook: Miss Idaho Organization

I have also had a lot of people ask me about sending letters and gifts! I adore snail mail, so everyone is welcome to send mail to:  Sierra Sandison, P.O. Box 6159, Twin Falls, ID 83303.  I love you all so, so much! Thank you again for all your support!

Thanks, Sierra!  You can follow more from Sierra on her personal blog, Miss Idaho, and via the #showmeyourpump hashtag.  We’ll be following your journey to Miss America this fall, and supporting you along the way!

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