Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Tuesday, November 2nd

Election Day-What issues are important to you? If you could tell your representatives one thing about diabetes, what would it be?

First of all, I'm writing this on a blood sugar low. I'm shaky, hungry (the reason I'm low in the first place), but at least I caught it before I got to the heart racing, hot all over, confused-feeling point...I think. I'll give my fast-acting glucose tablets a few minutes to work, then eat the apples and peanut butter that I was going to eat 30 minutes earlier (but instead got preoccupied with exploring my new laptop.) Incidentally, I left my blood glucose meter at home today on accident, so I'm just having to go by how I feel. I think this is the first time I've forgotten to put it in my purse before leaving for work since my diagnosis!

This is just another example of what it's like to live with a disease that doesn't let you forget about it. You can't exactly "go with the flow" or be spontaneous, especially when it comes to what and when you eat. I bug my husband incessantly when we're going out to eat about where we're going so I can look in my purse-sized calorie/fat/carb guide and decide what to order ahead of time. Sometimes, though, I still end up standing at the counter (i.e., Taco Bell, on Sunday), book in hand, trying to decide what I can fit into my carb limitations. It doesn't embarrass me, but it does add an extra dimension of time-consuming complication to what are supposed to be fun times.

Now on to the theme of today's blog: Election Day

There are a lot of issues that are important to me for this election...I consider myself mostly conservative: pro-life, -traditional marriage, -capitalism, -personal responsibility, -limiting federal powers, etc. HOWEVER that is not what is important to the central idea of this blog. Healthcare is a huge, debate-provoking issue right now, and for good reason...It's our lives that are at stake.

As a person with Diabetes, this issue hits somewhat closer to home for me. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my greatest long-term fears is the loss of insurance coverage--I had always planned on being a stay-at-home mom in the future once we have kids, but now I'm not sure if that will be possible. Right now, one of the benefits of my full-time job as a CAD Drawing Technician is health insurance. If it weren't for that, I would have already spent over $350 in Diabetes testing supplies alone in the last two months. Test strips cost over $1 apiece, which adds up quickly...Especially if you're testing as often as you should. At a minimum, that's $365 in test strips over a year, if you're testing once a day. For more intensive Diabetes management, I test an average of four-five times per day, sometimes more. That adds up to $1,825 in a year at five tests daily...and again, that's just the cost of the test strips. There are also lancets, alcohol swabs, glucose tablets, doctors' visits, lab tests, extra dental and eye exams, more nutritions (and expensive) food...The list goes on. These are the things a relatively healthy person managing their Type 2 Diabetes without medications will have to deal with. For a person with Type 1, you can add to that list insulin, syringes, a possible insulin pump (which is a several-thousand dollar piece of equipment) along with all of the supplies it entails, and more. And if you have complications from the disease (kidney, heart, neuropathy, vision problems, etc.), there is another whole list of doctors' visits, medications, and even potential surgeries to expect.

The bottom line? Having Diabetes is expensive, if you're taking care of yourself like you should. Of course, if you just ignore the disease (not testing, going to the doctor, dieting, etc.) it's a lot cheaper, but you probably won't live very long! In a way, I feel as if I'm being punished for paying attention to my health and doing everything I can to make sure I don't develop complications from my Diabetes. It definitely isn't fair, but it's the way our system of managed care works. And I have insurance. A $40 specialist co-pay is bad enough, but I can't imagine how much the costs would add up without insurance. It is truly scary (and sad) to think about having to weigh your health against what you can afford.

Therefore, the one thing I would tell my representatives about Diabetes is that the current system works to penalize those who take care of themselves with preventative measures, and that has to change. It's hard enough to find the motivation to take care of yourself with this disease on a day-to-day basis without having to worry about finding the money to do it. I'm no political expert and I don't know what the solution to this problem should be, but I do know that people with Diabetes should be able to effectively, efficiently, and affordably manage their disease without having to fight against a system that is designed to exclude and neglect them. Insurance also has to be available and affordable to those with Diabetes--it's simply inhumane to deny coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions (after all, what else is health insurance for?) or to make it unattainable by radically inflating premiums and deductibles specificially because of them.

There's my soapbox for today! What's yours?


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