The Cost of a Chronic Illness - Tuesday 5/16
Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly. Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage. So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care. Do you have advice to share? For those outside the US, is cost a concern? Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care? (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rick and Jen.)
$4,476: The amount of money I spent in insurance premiums last year.
$713.72: The amount of money I spent in a new insulin pump and CGM (out of pocket) in 2016.
$1000: The amount I spent in doctor's deductibles for office visits.
$250: The amount I spent in lab work from January 1-December 31.
$50 (ish): The amount of money i spent in AA Batteries to keep my pump running.
$36: What I spend on glucose tabs, on average, annually.
$540: What I spend on Test Strips, on average, annually.
4.5 Days: The amount of days I missed of work last year, strictly relating to Diabetes.
3 times: The average amount of times I wake up during the week directly relating to Diabetes.
4 times: The amount of times I changed my lancet last year, and this is a liberal number.
$7,065.72 spent on Diabetes, in 2016 alone, not counting the loss of sleep, the dull lancets, and the days missed of work.
Nothing went "wrong" last year. I had zero complications. No bouts of Diabetes Ketoacidosis, no hospital stays, and no big scares in lab work. So, 2016 was an "affordable year." You don't want to see the receipts from the years where complications do arise.
Money, strictly speaking, is a big complication in and of itself. I make a pretty good salary. AND I like my job. So, what happens if you don't make good money? Even if you have a college degree to do your job? (See: teacher, social worker, public service jobs, etc.) Money can prevent me from getting that extra lab work I need to check if I am still functioning where I need to be. Money often stops people from checking their blood sugar, affording insulin, getting their much needed treatments, getting health insurance, and seeing a doctor, even though that's what they desperately need. So how does that alone affect care?
In every way possible.
Days missed from work? I have PTO! How lucky I am! What about the single people trying to support themselves on an hourly wage where they can't miss a shift, but they are so sick and tired from the highs and lows? They are forced to go and participate in their job, even though it may not be safe for them to be there with their drained bodies and minds.
Sleeping through the night? Forget it! If you have a low blood sugar, I hope you wake up to treat! If not, it could mean death. High blood sugar? Enjoy spending your nights in between your bed and the toilet to constantly urinate in hopes that you can get to REM in between. (Hint: NO CHANCE.) My favorite is when I'm low and I have a dream where I am at a buffet and I head to the sweets table. I can't tell you how many times I am having a lucid dream about the most delectable cupcake and I wake up sweating, just so I can crawl to the fridge to get juice because I forgot to refill a juice box or glucose tabs by my bed from the last low.
Lancets - for you non-PWDs- are the little sword inside the contraption you see us hold up to our fingers to test our blood sugar in times of highs, lows, meals, post meals, exercise, or just a general funny feeling. Lancets are infamously never changed except for a few exceptions: see Anthony Hightower, Daylight Savings Time, or a new lancing device. They get dull fairly quickly, but it's one of those things I can control cost on, so I go longer than I should. I used to change them every single time. Then, I realized, that's stupid for me. ***Please do not take my advice on this portion. It is is important for safety, sanitation, and your damn fingertips that these be changed every time.***
These are the physical costs. I'm not sure I have the energy to discuss the mental costs: including, but not limited to, exhaustion, worrying about EVERY LITTLE THING THAT COULD AND WOULD GO WRONG, anxiety, depression, the mind fuzziness from a low, the unbearable thirst from a high that you just can't seem to quench, the frustration from not being able to predict what the next day, hour, or minute will look like, or just the mindset of "I don't give a flying f**k" when you've done everything you possibly can. These are what is most costly to me.
Do I have advice to get through it? Nope. You just do.
Sometimes with flying colors.
Sometimes barely clenching on, with your finger nails, in a hail storm, on the side of a muddy cliff.
So how much does diabetes truly cost? Everything.