Welcome back into our weekly Saturday advice column, Request D’Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and instructor Wil Dubois.
We’ve heard our share of horror stories about our messed-up medical insurance program, but this one may take the cake, so to speak. This week, Wil does his best to aid a woman in rural Alabama whose family and health is in a downward spiral because of lack of financial and insurance woes.
Michelle, type 2 from Alabama, writes:I’m a 34-year-old widowed, single mama withtwo school-age children. I lost my health insurance when my hubby died in a automobile accident. Briefly, in 2012, I took out Individual Blue health plan and managed to persuade myself to doctors where I found out I had a whole lot of health problems including that I’m diabetic enjoy both my parents. Two months after I got medical insurance I found out my son had cancer, so I had to rent insurance go so I could budget back at the $150 monthly needed for long distance traveling to St. Jude Hospital, so he can get nicely.
I’ve let myself go, and today my diabetic neuropathy has become so debilitating that it hurts to walk. I’ve always “sucked it up“ with the pain since I had been raising two kids, and I urge‘t get time off for sick days. Twill months ago I started dropping weight, and my vision is clouded now for past year.
I‘m so scared that I‘m gonna die at any moment. We all know ourselves well enough to know when something isn‘t right, and what’s happening to me is really bad today that I feel like my body is shutting down. Like anyone else about here, I‘m barely able to feed my children, so $80 to see a doctor is out of the question, along with the ER treats those of us with no insurance badly. Last time I went in I left me forever, I finally broke into tears in the pain and humiliation. I am so sick of this every day damaging and the departure out when my glucose is out of whack, that I beg God to just take me because with this route of not getting appropriate care, I’m 89% convinced that when I die it will be from diabetes complications, however I want to live for my own babies.
The federal government fetches $334 every month out of my survivor benefit check for student loans, and Food Stamps and Medicaid won’t allow the amount hauled out to be claimed once I document apps together. If they’d (because it is federal loans from before my hubby died), I‘Id be eligible for food help and insurance. I live in Marshall County, Alabama — would you happen to know of any organizations or doctors that will visit me, and save my life? I’ve hit dead ends everywhere. I don‘t want to give up however I might have no choice.
Wil@Ask D’Mine replies: About the bulletin board in my practice office is a reproduction of one of these placards at the seat pocket of every airliner in the country. It shows a baby turning blue while its mom peacefully puts on her oxygen mask. Across the very top in bold red letters it states: “Set the oxygen mask on yourself before helping small children or others who might want your help.”
OK, I confess. I might have coloured the baby blue. But only because United Airlines does not have the type of sense of humor that Virgin Atlantic does.
Yes, People, “women and children first” went down with the Titanic; and the dawn of the jet era heralded a new motto: Take good care of yourself. This isn’t narcissistic. It is a necessity of the contemporary age. The simple fact of the matter is that if an airliner depressurizes at the normal cruise altitude of 30,000 ft you could have as little as 30 seconds before you pass out. Less time if you’re on a long-haul flight at a greater elevation.
If you look after the children first, you risk passing yourself out. Possibly before you finish helping the child. Then you are both completed. That’s the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario is that you simply do receive the mask on the child and then pass before getting your own on, providing your helpless child with a front-row seat of your passing.
Wait a sec, you ask. What does all this gruesome aviation safety need to do with diabetes? Particularly at this hour of the morning? Well, you Wouldn’t believe the number of times every month I experience this scenario:
Me: OK, Let’s download your maquinita (Spanish for little devices).
(((Twist))) Followed by moment of silence.
Me: Uhhhh…. So… I’m not seeing some other readings because… August? Do you have two machines?
Patient: Well, I’m just so busy taking care of everybody else that I don’t have enough time to check.
Me: Can I direct your attention to the gloomy baby?
Hence that the airline placard is my own graphic and direct method of reminding people of this new ordinary and a fundamental truth: You can not take care of anyone else if you don’t look after yourself.
Oh, and as to the hour of this morning, hey, diabetes never sleeps.
Now, I’m sorry about the terrible hand you have been dealt, Michelle. I really am. It sucks. However, you put the damn oxygen mask on the baby, and now you are gasping for air that isn’t there. You’ve let your diabetes get the upper hand. I know you are suffering greatly due to this, but trust me that it is only going to get worse. Diabetes cannot be ignored anymore than a lack of oxygen can be ignored. And just like the airplane that, after ruptured, swiftly loses every breath, diabetes swiftly gets worse with every breath that passes before you tackle it.
At least you are still breathing.
But if you would like your children to have a mom, you’d damn well better put on your oxygen mask. Right now. And that means you need to get your frickin’ diabetes straight back to control. That’s job one. As long as the diabetes is running amuck in your own body, your pain will only get worse. Once your sugars are normal, it is possible your pain will relieve, however there are no guarantees. Nerve damage from neuropathy is generally a one-way street. That said, over-the-counter alpha lopic acid helps a lot of people (though it takes about six weeks to start to operate) and you will find several prescription meds than can help.
However, to get started, Michelle, get yourself over to Douglas Medical Center on Highway 75 at Horton, Alabama. They’re a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQCH), so what they’ll charge you to see one of the docs depends on your earnings. Many FQHCs utilize a community-based scale to realistically assess income than the government will, so the money you lose to the Feds out of your check is going to be taken under consideration. It is possible the visits will be free, but if not, they won’t cost much. The Douglas Clinic is run by Quality of Life Health Services, who pride themselves on their approach to diabetes therapy, which means you need to fit right in. They also have a prescription assistance program that they say “offers essential mediations at a minimal cost.” And for any other widows with children out there (or anyone else in similar desperate straights) FQHCs have been in every state. It is possible to find one near you here.
Now, I apologize for the early morning smack down. I’m sure that you truly feel like I’ve only kicked you while you’re down. I’m not generally a believer in negative reinforcement, but sometimes it is the only real way to get through to people. And I’m writing to another two hundred widows out there like you (who are not too ill yet) as far as I’m writing to you. Anybody who has diabetesand that has someone they need to take good care — has to look after themselves first. No matter what it requires. This is not optional.
Put on your oxygen mask. Do it. Do it to your babies.
This is not a medical advice column. We’re PWDs publicly and publicly sharing the wisdom of our accumulated experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge in the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are a small portion of your whole prescription. You still need the expert advice, therapy, and care of a licensed medical professional.
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.
This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog concentrated on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and does not stick to Healthline’s editorial instructions. To learn more about Healthline’s partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.
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