THE COST OF INSULIN ISN’T THE ONLY COST WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT

Bailey Layish | Staff Writer

Living with type one diabetes is exhausting. Chronic illnesses are never ending. Diabetes is a full-time job on top of schoolwork. Diabetes is a list of things to always keep in my head: blood sugar, carbs, insulin. Diabetes is an endless reminder that my body isn’t working properly and I need to spend my time and energy to figure out what’s wrong. Diabetes is sitting through four hours of classes and finally walking out and feeling dizzy and nauseous, and realizing it is because my blood sugar is high and I didn’t notice because I was too focused on schoolwork. Diabetes is walking to the dining hall and not having the energy to eat because I feel so disgusting from the high blood sugar. Diabetes is dealing with the low later from not eating dinner: the shaking, the sweating, the sobbing, and forcing yourself to drink a glass of orange juice. Diabetes is going high, again, because I drank too much orange juice and forgot I ran out of insulin. Diabetes is picking myself up off the floor and walking to the pharmacy. Diabetes is not crying when my insulin costs over $100, with insurance. Diabetes is walking the three blocks home from the pharmacy and hoping I don’t low again.
That’s all it really is. Hoping I don’t go high and hoping I don’t go low and never really knowing what to do to prevent either. I mean it should be simple: blood sugar goes up with food, and down with insulin. But how much insulin or how much food can change constantly. If I wake up and eat the same breakfast every morning, I might need a different amount of insulin each day. Most people cannot afford an inconsistent amount of insulin. Most people cannot afford insulin.

And I’m lucky. Because I can afford my insulin and because I can afford a fancy medical device who warns me when my blood sugar is too high or too low so I don’t pass out in the middle of a chemistry lab. But my insulin pump will tell me I am low in lab and my brain must process the information: can my lab partner handle the experiment so I can get something to eat? Will I get in trouble for sitting down? Do I need to sit down or can I eat my sour patch kids and go back to the experiment? Will I go lower if I continue standing? Did I finish the sour patch kids in my backpack when I went low last week? And of course, I ate the same breakfast as I did yesterday, and I gave the same amount of insulin. How come today I went low when yesterday my blood sugar was high? There’s a never ending struggle of “what can I do right now so I don’t die?” inevitably combined with “will those around me understand what’s happening?” Because even though I told my lab partner and my professor I have diabetes, there’s still days when they get frustrated with me for sitting down or not finishing my work or not helping.

And there’s days when I resent myself for not finishing work. There’s days when my blood sugar goes low after a dance rehearsal and I have to lay down and I just can’t get back up because all of my energy is gone. It all went toward raising my blood sugar. And there’s days when I can’t read my textbook anymore or do any more math problems because I haven’t eaten and now my blood sugar has dropped far too low. And then there’s days when my blood sugar is fine. Maybe weeks where my blood sugar is nearly perfect. But I’m just so tired from fighting for weeks, months, years, just to stay alive. Diabetes is a never-ending battle. And it is exhausting.