Eleven years ago today I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I had been misdiagnosed for several months, so by the time I was admitted to the hospital I was very sick.
I remember the exhaustion I felt in the days before I was admitted. The relatively short distance it took to get from my residence hall to my college classes had me in tears from the physical effort. My legs didn’t feel strong enough to carry my body across campus.
The night before I went to the emergency room I started to feel an awful pain in my chest. I had never felt it before and I have never felt it since. There is no way to describe it other than – my heart hurt. Physical pain deep inside my chest. The next day I developed a new symptom – I couldn’t catch my breath. As hard as I would try, it felt impossible to take a deep enough breath.
It was that symptom that finally convinced my friend to force me to go to the emergency room. A few hours later I had my first dose of insulin.
One small shot of insulin that saved my life.
I was very sick by the time I received insulin, but I was alive. If my story had taken place in many countries around the world (such as my beloved Haiti), there is a high likelihood that I would not have survived. In many areas, the life expectancy of a child with diabetes is less than one year and the most common cause of death is lack of access to insulin (source).
I saw a post last month about the plight of people with diabetes around the world, and one of the comments blamed the pharmaceutical companies and suggested that they have enough profit to just ship the life-saving medication to the countries who need it.
To that I would share the conversation I had a few years ago with the founder of an insulin cooling system that requires no power. He realized how helpful his product would be to people in a country that lacks access to resources like refrigeration. The biggest struggle he found in his donation? He could not find enough people to use them. The clinics and hospitals did not know of enough people getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes early enough and living long enough to face the problem of insulin storage.
For me, it’s been eleven years. One year short of a dozen.
In honor of my eleven years, or perhaps in memory of the children who have not had the opportunity of the past eleven years of life, please consider donating to the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign.
Instead of buying a dozen roses for a loved one this month, buy eleven roses and donate the cost of the twelfth rose to save the life of a child.
One rose ($5) provides insulin to a child for one month. The cost of one dozen roses ($60) saves the life of a child for an entire year.
I will be going out to dinner tonight with some great friends who are a part of my life because diabetes is a part of all of our lives. We will celebrate eleven years of life. Help me make it possible for children around the world to celebrate years of life with diabetes too.