In 2000, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after ending up in the hospital and the ICU for 10 days – In that episode that landed me in the hospital, I was given a 2% chance of living, but I woke up 3 days later.
I moved to Las Vegas right after 9/11. My husband was working and I wasn’t at that time. We didn’t have health insurance. I was told that being a diabetic was not a life-threatening illness because you could get medicine over the counter without a prescription. In order to qualify for Medicaid, I had to be pregnant or severely disabled, so I didn’t qualify for the medicine I needed. I was playing Russian roulette with my life. I would try and make the insulin last so I could buy my kid’s food. No matter how much I wanted to change things, I couldn’t because I couldn’t afford it.
That lead to a lot of problems in a one-income family trying to support two young children. At the time, the cheapest insulin I could find was $29 a bottle – I needed two: One for long term daily use and one for fast acting daily use. I used the cheapest insulin for four years – and it wasn’t the right one, but I used it because it was the cheapest.
I remember one time, it was about four days before payday, I had hardly any insulin left and I was throwing up blood and couldn’t get up. It was terrible and this happened to me three times in two years.
In 2004, When my husband got a Culinary Union job, he got the Culinary Health Insurance – I finally was able to get a good doctor, but found out that I was in the beginning stages of kidney failure and my A1c level was a 9. It took three long years for me to get back in control of my diabetes.
Now, I pay $0 for all of my insulin and diabetic supplies – it would probably cost me $1,000 a month if I had to pay for everything myself. It’s nice to not play Russian roulette with my life. The Culinary Pharmacy is always so nice and helpful. I feel grateful and happy having access to the free pharmacy. I feel like I matter. It’s nice not to have that stress and it gives me more freedom. I don’t have to think about, “how am I going to get another bottle of insulin next month?”
I feel like I can do more for my family now and I know I’ll be around to watch my little grandchildren grow up.