In 1986, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was lucky. My mom poured her heart into taking care of me. She let me be a kid at the same time. Diabetes affected me only because I had it, not because I was it. I played softball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, participated in dance and played the piano. I I learned at this time what it was like to take care of myself and have a chronic disease. I had no problem getting the insulin and test strips I needed. I was a white female who grew up in a middle class suburban home. My parents both worked and had health insurance for me.
Then 2006 hit. My father had battled Stage five chronic kidney disease for a few years, he was on dialysis. He died that year on a terrible March day. My world was crashing down, and I didn’t even know. Financial issues started to hit. My mom was a school teacher and couldn’t afford to help me out with extra money, so I quit softball and worked. I made only enough to get me by. I was a full time student, and she was adamant that I remain that way. I decided to go into healthcare myself, hoping to save lives, and prevent what I could not for my father.
In 2008 I turned 24. I was a student, almost finished with school. And then, it happened. my insurance dropped me because I was 24.I was like so many others, uninsured.
I graduated with a Bachelor in Science with a major in Dietetics and a minor in Chemistry that August. Two days later I started my internship to earn my certificate in Medical Nutrition Therapy. I was surrounded by teams of doctors, nurses, physical therapists. And yet I was unable to seek these resources outside of my own battle.People tried to help me. They would give me sample strips, extra pump supplies they had, insulin coupons. But it wasn’t enough. I remember my pump falling out and pushing it back in, taping it to my body, so that I could have a couple more days use of it.
Years later I went back to school, with no fear of that loss of coverage. I was able to receive health insurance, no matter that I was diagnosed with diabetes over 30 years ago.