By, Dr. Kerris Dillon
Nothing frustrates me more than watching news stories and reading newspaper articles about the cost of insulin. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that they are covering this issue. What media isn’t recognizing is the additional costs that come with Diabetes. My son has Type 1 Diabetes and we have insurance. Even with health insurance, we pay $80.00 a month in insulin, $150.00 a month in test strips, and $500.00 a month for pump supplies. This is $730.00 a month that we pay for Diabetic supplies and medicine per month.
Is it less expensive to just use insulin, test strips, and needles? Sure! This would reduce us to $230.00 a month, but our son’s A1C and his psychological well-being wouldn’t be as high. When our son Kalan was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, he used test strips, insulin, and needles. For those that use only test strips, insulin, and needles the diet is very limited. Individuals are only supposed to eat every 2-3 hours because constantly injecting insulin could create a deadly combination called “stacking insulin”.
For a 10 year old boy, it is nearly impossible to stick to this diet. Kalan would sneak food and when we went to test him, his blood sugar would be 500+. We couldn’t keep up with him! The minute we went to bed, he was sneaking food again. My husband and I considered putting locks on all our cupboards and fridge, but that seemed quite ridiculous. An insulin pump was our saving grace. Little did we know how much it would cost us each month!
I try as hard as I can to not get pissed at how this disease has impacted our family and Kalan. It has wrecked our financial state and our family doesn’t get to do what other families can do. I stay at home with Kalan and homeschool him and am trying to earn money blogging as well as with my YouTube channel. I homeschool him because he was so bullied at school that he stopped talking and couldn’t muster a smile to save his life. I driver Uber at nights as does my husband to try and afford all of our bills and Diabetic supplies.
To make matters worse, two of my children as well as myself have Celiac Disease so our family eats nothing but gluten free food, which is expensive. I have a Ph.D. in psychology and cannot pay my student loans. We live in a trailer because we had to sell our house when Kalan landed in the hospital for 4 days. When I get angry with this disease and the healthcare in our nation, I have to take a deep breath and remember that I have Kalan. He is worth all the money in the world to me.
The pump allows my son to be a kid. If he is running around or playing a video game, he doesn’t have to stop and test himself to know what his blood sugar is. He simply looks at his pump and keeps going. If he drops too low or begins running too high, an alarm goes off on the pump to shift him away from what he is doing. As I am writing this, his pump just went off and he picked it up and read it to me, “252, Mom. There are still 2 units on board.”
What this means it that his pump alarmed him when his blood sugar started getting too high. A normal blood sugar is supposed to run 80-120 and anything above 250 is dangerously high. Before the pump, my son would regularly hit numbers in the 500-600 range. Now, we catch him at 250 and 79 when he starts to drop below the normal range. My child can eat any time of the day because the pump knows how much insulin to deliver at one time so we don’t have to worry about “insulin stacking”. He used to be on 2 insulins and day, but now he is on 1.
When Kalan eats, he types in his carbs into his pump and the pump does the rest. It gives such peace-of-mind. I no longer have to worry about my husband or daughter drawing up the wrong insulin for him and we know much quicker if for some reason the insulin is no good. This is worth $500.00 a month even if it means working multiple jobs and needing our daughter to live at home as another adult to keep watch over him.
The cost of having a child with Type 1 Diabetes in the family is much more than just the cost of insulin. The public school couldn’t handle his diabetes and they sent him home with dangerously low blood sugar. Do I fight with the school to get him the correct supervision that he deserves? I tried that. It didn’t work. I didn’t want to have to sue the school over the loss of my son’s life. It wasn’t worth it. I stopped working and decided to stay home with him. The cost of diabetes for us was 1 whole income.
The loss of sleep is another cost of diabetes. My husband and I get up every 60-90 minutes in the night to check on Kalan. It’s like having a newborn all over again. Kalan can drop 200 in blood glucose in 45 minutes, which means we have to make sure this isn’t happening. The nights are probably the toughest for us. My husband and I take lots of naps throughout the afternoon and sometimes fight over who gets to take a nap and who needs to watch Kalan.
At times out of pure exhaustion, we have both gone to sleep only to wake up 2 hours later and our son is at 500+ because he doesn’t understand the consequences of high blood sugar. He shouldn’t. He is 12 years old. What other 12 year old’s have to worry about health consequences every waking hour of the day because of what they eat?
This poor kid has had his childhood stripped from him because of this nasty disease. We went mini golfing the other day and just the walking from hole to hole sent his blood sugar plummeting. We couldn’t even finish the course and headed home. The families looked as us strangely as we left the 12th hole and headed toward the car. He tried to give him so Gatorade with sugar and he projectile vomited it all over the car.
This is the state of our lives. Not only do we worry about money and making ends meet, but we also worry about Kalan’s life day-to-day and hour to hour. Many people that actually give me the time to talk about our challenges will say, “Wow! That sounds awful! I don’t know if I could deal with that! I wish there was something I could do.”
When you are faced with such a dilemma, you rise to the occasion. I would honestly become a prostitute if it meant being able to afford the life saving medicine and equipment that my child needs. Hopefully, I won’t have to do that. There is something you can do to help, though, and that’s to donate to a cure for diabetes. If you want to help our family, please keep reading my blog and find me on YouTube by typing Dr. Kerris Dillon into the search engine. The more subscribers I have, the more YouTube will pay me for the mental health videos that I have produced. Prayers are also more than welcome! Please pray for Kalan and his continued health. It is more appreciated than you will ever know!