Recently JDRF announced that it was giving money for a Johnson and Johnson artificial pancreas research project. The other day I also noticed that they were involved in another research project with BD. I will readily admit that I have had very little to do with the JDRF since my son’s diagnosis. They are virtually non-existent in my area. I subscribe to some of their initiatives and occasionally follow some of what is being done but I am not involved with them regarding any fundraising or support.
The people that I have seen supporting them however have been very diligent. Families who create walk teams seem to go to great lengths to fundraise and let everyone know that they are “Walking for a Cure”. I therefore began to wonder how these same people felt about their “cure” money going towards diabetes tools research. Don’t get me wrong, tools are what keep my son alive. The great advances in tools are vital to me until that day comes when he or others living with type 1 diabetes can be cured. I spend a lot of time advocating to get these tools in the hands of all people living with diabetes so I am definitely in support of this sort of research. My question however, was for those who had “walked for a cure” and now saw their dollars going towards treatment.
Organizations like the Diabetes Associations openly state that money raised for them goes into a variety of pots including research and development. The JDRF website states that its “mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. ” For many that sort of a statement would suggest that a cure is its only focus. People that I have spoken with have been rather taken aback by these announcements. Some feel very betrayed while others are shocked but accepting. Many living with diabetes feel that they can still support this and feel that it is okay for them to spread their focus to living with diabetes and well as working towards a cure. Still others are sitting back scratching their heads. These people are not so sure that this is where they want their money and efforts to go any longer. Sadly there are many other organizations that would gladly accept their support.
I have no idea if this public support for techonologically based research will cost the JDRF any support or not. I am happy to see any advances that will keep my child alive, healthy and happy until that day when someone does finally discover that cure.
The other day Liam told me that he had made a new years resolution. I asked what it was. He said to have better control of his diabetes–test more often, pre-bolus and more readings in range. My heart cracked just a little more. I was proud that he was at least talking the talk but I was scared that with puberty the focus on “readings” would lead to some disappointment.
It killed me a little more to know that there was a tool out there that could help him with this. It would give us more data and let us know what was going on when he wasn’t testing but I had decided against purchasing it. Continuous Glucose Monitors continue to be much more popular than days of old. They are much smaller and much more convenient than ever before. Unfortunately they are not covered by the provincial insulin pump program, nor are they covered by Liam’s father’s medical insurance. His parents would have to pay for the system and then the monthly supplies. With braces to be paid for and a family vacation in the works, there is just nothing left for such extras as a CGMS.
Once again diabetes care is reduced to dollars and cents. It becomes about using the tools you can afford not using the tools that would best manage your care but we are more fortunate than a lot of others. Most adults living with diabetes still do not have government assisted insulin pump programs to lean on. They are stuck having to use injections or cover the cost of insulin pump therapy out of their own pockets. Even for those with insurance there is often “caps”. We ran into a cap the other day for test strips. Liam used up more than the allotted $1400 worth of test strips…no kidding we test 10-12 times per day. I couldn’t believe a program would be so limiting but for many that low cap is found on all of their diabetes care supplies.
This kills me. This could be my son in a few years. I am already telling him that he has to look at his employment options in terms of what job will give him the best benefits. That is insane. Its not about what you want to do, its about what will either pay the most or offer the most.
All of this was in my mind the other day as I went to one of the first pre-budget consultations in our province. I had a person who was willing to stand forward and speak to the need for an adult insulin pump program in our province. We were slightly misinformed regarding how the process worked and what we should present. We did get our message out there and were supported by another minister at the table but I still left there wondering if any messages were getting out there. Were people permanently clueless about diabetes?
After the presentation, one of the assistants to the Minister of Finance spoke up and said that some pump supplies were in fact covered for those over 18. The presenter pressed the man to say what supplies were covered but he could not answer her. I was shocked as our diabetes clinic was looking to receive funds from the Diabetes Hope Foundation to help young adults. They surely should have known if there was a provincial program and wouldn’t look to private funding. I could not let this sit. The assistants are known to have a lot of power when it comes to getting things done as they tend to sit in the departments for longer than Ministers. I had to make sure that this guy had his facts correct.
I went up to him after the meeting and explained who I was. I asked him what pump supplies were covered. He said that while the pump wasn’t covered, test strips were. And???? Well it turns out that was it. Test strips could be covered under the provincial drug plan for qualified users. Okay but that helps all people living with diabetes whether they are on insulin, medication or diet and exercise. It does not help someone to maintain their insulin pump. He had no idea. I was scared. This was one of the people involved in deciding on if we should have funding and he doesn’t have a clue about what we are talking about.
The plus side is that there are a few more public meetings available for people to set them straight. The downside is trying to find people to speak out, to take an afternoon or morning of their time and spend it in one of these forums. It is trying to get people to write emails and contact the panel to let them know that this is important and why. Please, if you can help us to help the adults with diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador. With the right tools and knowledge anything is possible. Even Liam’s goal of better readings. He has already dropped his A1c by .6% and has a very proud mom.
January 2010. Where did the time go? I know its a question we ask every year. You would think that we would have the answer by now! Well I don’t have the answer to that question but I do have another question that has been asked before that I will be asking again in 2010…Premier Williams, please, please, please expand our provincial insulin pump program to include those over 18 years of age!!!
Yes, its that time of year again! Its time to roll up our sleeves, bring out our dialing fingers and our typing hands and get back to work. Last year we asked for pumps for adults. We asked that the Newfoundland and Labrador government follow in the path of the Ontario government. Ontario had become a “have not” province and yet still manages to fund insulin pumps for all of its citizens living with diabetes despite age. Newfoundland and Labrador declared itself to be a “have” province and yet new hospital parking lots took precedence over an adult insulin pump program. Now I have tried to park in some hospital lots and I will agree that there can be huge problems there but the reality of 18 year old men and women having to remove their insulin pumps because they cannot afford the supplies is personally a much more grave concern. Parking is an inconvenience. Insulin pump therapy and the benefits it provides has a direct impact on the provincial economy and its spending.
Individuals who are able to tightly manage their diabetes are less likely to end up in the hospital with emergencies blood glucose issues. Individuals who use an insulin pump can more easily handle jobs that involve shift work and therefore can be tax paying members of society. Individuals with diabetes who are able to maintain their treatment method after they turn 18 have less reason to leave the province to seek employment. They can stay home, work in their local economy and still afford to live. In a province that has seen record out migration for longer than it has seen in-migration, you would think that this would be a win-win proposition.
This program is not a costly one. Many adults living with Type 1 diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador will already have some sort of pump coverage. Adults who were not transitioned to a pump as youth will often be reluctant to start on “new” therapies. Last year’s estimates suggested that a four year pump program, including pumps and supplies for adults without any pump coverage (not including man hours) would cost the government approximately $2million. What is $2 million when compared to helping thousands of adults living in Newfoundland and Labrador?
At the moment, the reality is that young adults who turn 18 and go into the workforce or who have parents without insulin pump coverage are often forced to rely on donations or return to injections. This is not acceptable. Please help us to make the government aware. Let us know if you can help emailing MHAs, calling and getting the word out at pre-budget consultations and more. Lets make the 2010 budget be a budget that will assist those living with diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador.