At the start of 2017, I was living my best life – 24 years old and doing whatever I wanted to without consideration of the consequences. Working in the restaurant industry, not attending school or being tied down to any other obligation, you could often find me at a bar alongside my friends nightly.
That was until I started noticing a tingling sensation in my fingers and my toes around February. This coincided with significant weight loss that I merely attributed to an increased amount of work and too much play. So, I decided to stop partying and begin focusing on my health.
Except I didn’t start focusing on my health, and I kept right along living my edgy lifestyle. In perspective, the ignorance of not listening to my body’s cry for help proved to be detrimental. In March, my best friend celebrated his birthday and naturally, we got a little wild. So much so that I ended up cracking my tailbone, but with all the adrenaline and alcohol pumping through me that night, I didn’t even notice the pain.
The following morning when I woke, I couldn’t even continue lying down and when I sat up, the sharp pain I felt running through my lower back was so excruciating that I didn’t think it would be possible to stand. When I finally forced myself to my feet, I noticed my vision was hazy and attributed this to the newly acquired injury; again, ignoring an obvious cry for help.
A few days would pass, and although the pain was still cutting through me like a knife through butter, became more manageable. However, the blurry vision intensified, which was still accompanied by the occasional tingle in my fingers and toes. How foolish I was to have ignored these signs, though it’s not as if I had many options to take care of them, or my back, because I was living my reckless life without health insurance.
The situation finally boiled over a week after my friend’s party. I found myself sleepless, dry-mouthed and urinating every ten minutes. Regardless of my health insurance situation, I decided that a visit to the hospital was urgent.
After running numerous tests, the nurse responsible for me nonchalantly returned with the diagnosis, “Your blood sugar is 621, so we’ll be keeping you for a few days.” Noticing the bewildered look on my face she went on, “Oh, did you not know you were diabetic? Consider yourself lucky to be here then, because you could have a heart attack or go into a coma at any minute.”
I was in the hospital for four days and during that time I scoured the internet, desperately searching for ways to cure diabetes. Considering I didn’t have $225,000 for a new pancreas, I decided to look at how I could manage my newly acquired disease and was sickened further by the results.
The rising cost of diabetes management has soared in the United States in recent years. Given my age (27 at the time of this article), the costs associated with diabetes become even more monumental, and that’s for those fortunate to afford health insurance.
Those who do have access to health insurance are spending outrageous amounts of money on insulin, along with blood glucose testing supplies and dietary supplements. Even with benefits, many still succumb to the disease, as having to completely alter your lifestyle and eating habits, such as cutting carbs, are impossible for some.
It has been two years since I was diagnosed with diabetes, and I am still without the healthcare insurance I so desperately seek. I am playing a dangerous game as even a few french fries or a piece of toast can wreak havoc on my blood sugar levels. Some nights I lie in bed fearing if I’ll wake up in the morning, and that’s on a good blood sugar day.
For me, completing my degree is the only way I see it possible to fight the disease. Eventually, I'll be able to acquire health insurance, and by maintaining an extremely strict diet I may just be able to survive; that is unless you’ve got $225,000 lying around.