• Medicaid Matters Florida

A Lifetime of Living with Diabetes

By: Ofelia P., Pinellas County


My daughter, Lori, has been a Type 1 Diabetic for 40 years. She was diagnosed when she was 8 years old and in the third grade. She immediately started giving herself daily shots of insulin and doing her own testing equipment. She has always been very independent and strong. At the time, the whole family was going through this huge transition with her. My husband worked two jobs and I was working full time. Lori even had to be hospitalized for short period of time. Her endocrinologist told us that she was only going to live to be 35 years old. Today, she’s 47 and functioning well. If you looked at her you would not know she’s any different from me or you. But I wish that I could tell you just how much this disease has impacted our family.

Diabetes has gravely impacted my daughter’s life and her life decisions. She always wanted to be a mother, but because of the diabetes, she was not able to have children of her own. After suffering several miscarriages Lori married a man who had a ten-month-old baby. Despite his abusive behavior, Lori stayed in the marriage for an opportunity to raise the child. People don’t really think about the toll diabetes can take on your mind and body. Today she’s standing strong but losing four babies has a life-long effect.

My daughter has always been employed, until recently. She worked for over 25 years as a medical assistant. Now she joins the group of Floridians who are not eligible for Medicaid and she really needs health insurance to pay for her insulin and equipment. Her endocrinologist is insisting that she take a particular type of insulin, but it’s too expensive. She had a hard time affording it when she was working, much less now that she’s not working. The upside is that she can go to Walmart and buy the Walmart insulin. Her doctor is not happy with her using the Walmart brand, but she’s told him that she can’t afford the other brand. What else is she to do? I don’t believe that her A1C has changed since she started taking the Walmart brand. I worry because I’ve been by her side twice when she had Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Her blood sugar had been too high for too long and she was nearly comatose. Her last episode was in 2017. She went to the ER and she just slept the whole time she was in the waiting room. When I arrived, I told the nursing staff that she was a Type 1 Diabetic and needed something immediately. Lori could hear me when I spoke to her, but she could not respond. She was in the ICU for two days. That was very scary. That cannot happen again.

When Lori was first diagnosed forty years ago, our biggest expense was a combination of the insulin and testing equipment. We had a co-pay for her doctor’s visits, and injections were a separate cost, but it was all very affordable. When did the prices change and get outrageous?

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