We hadn’t planned on watching the first Presidential debate as a family, but we did. It was starting right at the beginning of bedtime, and I couldn’t stand to miss a minute of it. The kids piled on top of us in the living room, clad in PJs and with freshly brushed teeth, and we were glued to the television set.
It didn’t take long for Trump to interrupt and talk over both Biden and the moderator. I wasn’t shocked by much of what he said or even all that interested — until he bragged that he made insulin affordable, so affordable, in fact, that insulin was now cheap like water.
My husband looked me, his eyes wide. I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for fourteen years, and I’m dependent on insulin to live. I have never experienced this magical, cheap insulin that Trump referred to, and neither have thousands of others. Once again, the president is lying, and I’m not here for it.
He has worked to make insulin cheaper for a select group of people, and he told the American people why in a press conference. Yet, he failed to mention this significant detail. While he’s busy applauding himself for a job well done, many of us in the diabetes community are rolling our eyes. We have yet to pick up our insulin prescriptions without paying a hefty penny, or should I say, dollars. Every time I approach the pharmacy window, I hold my breath, not knowing how much I will have to fork over to stay alive for ninety more days.
My three month supply of insulin has a retail value of $2000. I’m completely dependent on the liquid inside the glass vials. If I go without it, even for a few hours, I’m headed toward death’s door. When I was twenty-four years old, I went to the emergency room in a state called diabetic ketoacidosis. Because my body wasn’t producing enough insulin, a consequence of a virus I contracted, it had gone toxic and was shutting down. In the days that followed, as I curled up in my ICU bed, multiple doctors and nurses came into my room to tell me I was “very lucky to be alive.”
We’ve established that insulin is non-optional for those of us with type 1 diabetes. Having the right insulin for us and the correct amounts is vital to our existence. Because insulin is incredibly expensive, many people cannot afford it and choose to ration it. However, rationing insulin is like playing Russian Roulette. I’m in multiple online, large diabetes support groups. Weekly, yes weekly, we have members die because they couldn’t afford insulin. Trump didn’t help them.
Just to give you an idea of how expensive this disease is, a vial of my brand of insulin is $350 out-of-pocket. Yes, $350 for a teeny, tiny vial of insulin that lasts me about twelve days. Each patient is different. Some need much more insulin than I do.
A vial of insulin isn’t our only medical cost. We have to own a tool to administer the insulin, either an insulin pump (like I have) or syringes. In order to know how much insulin we need at any given time, we need a glucose meter, test strips, alcohol pads, a lancing device, and lancets, or, a continuous glucose monitor. If you’re beginning to think this is similar to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you are right. Because in order to get all the supplies we need, we also need a doctor who will prescribe them to us. Usually our disease warrants us to see an endocrinologist, and yes, these visits are incredibly expensive. We can’t get the supplies we need unless we have frequent lab draws, which, as you probably know, are also very expensive.
So when Trump stands behind a podium and pats himself on the back for making insulin cheap like water, I want you to know he’s lying. He’s bragging about something he didn’t do for me or for many, many others who live with this 24/7, 365 autoimmune disease. The American Diabetes Association shared that there are 1.6 million type 1 diabetics in the United States, and 187,000 of those are children and teens. Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes. However, we now know that adults can be diagnosed with this disease, too.
When I look at the facts, I know why Trump didn’t lower insulin costs for all of us. He knows that children can’t vote, so why care about them? He also knows that many young and middle-age adults with pre-existing conditions will also not vote for him. This leaves him with the older crowd, the one he decided he’d so kindly help by lowering their insulin costs. Gee, thanks. If you’re reading this and thinking, he’s buying votes, you’d be correct.
I’m utterly disgusted, but not surprised, that a man who refuses to denounce white supremacy and talks over his opponent like they’re on the playground fighting over a kickball is lying to the American people about his accomplishments. As I’ve taught my children, lies by omission are still lies. I absolutely don’t expect someone so immoral, heartless, and narcissistic to care about type 1 diabetics, but I won’t stand by and let people believe that he’s bearing the truth. Type 1 diabetes is deeply personal.
There are many reasons I didn’t, and won’t, vote for Trump. His ableism, sexism, elitism, xenophobia, and support of white supremacy are some of my reasons. I will also not vote for someone who falsely claims to be “pro-life,” but refuses to value the lives of those of us who live with type 1 diabetes.