Around $80 bucks. That’s how much it costs for a CGM sensor in Australia. It’s expensive and it is completely out of reach of most people living with type 1 diabetes. There is no subsidy: you want it, you pay for it yourself.
I have been wearing a sensor on and off for the last eight or so years, as long as CGM technology has been available in Australia. In the last two and a half years, it’s been on more than off. And recently, I have found myself feeling completely lost without it.
I know how fortunate I am to be able to afford it, I really do. And yet, after I called the company to make my last order, and read out my credit card details, I heard myself complaining about the cost – to pretty much anyone who would listen.
And there, in my world, seemingly oblivious to anyone living outside it, my indignation at having to fork over well-over $300 to pay for the device that I need/isn’t a privilege/keeps me alive/keeps me out of hospital/is necessary for me to be well/helps my quality of life/reassures me/reassures my family (or whatever lame-ass reason I was sprouting) was being repeated ad nauseam.
But sometimes, this privilege is brought home in ways that make me feel shamed and ashamed.
At ISPAD + APEG last week, I attended the IDF Life for a Child update. I make sure that I go to all the sessions run by the LFAC team at any conference I go to because I want to support the program in any way I can.
Many people will have heard of the Life for a Child program. I’ve written about it before – specifically when promoting the very valuable Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign.
17,000 children from 47 countries benefit from the program. The focus and vision of LFAC have shifted slightly in recent years. It has moved from keeping children and young adults alive to improving health outcomes and quality of life.
The education and training initiatives developed by LFAC are making sure that there is sustainable impact being made to the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes. Much of this work is done through strengthening existing centres, which means more money going towards actually helping people, rather than the establishment of new institutions.
Each time I hear about LFAC, I walk away with a mixture of feelings – most of them associated with guilt.
I feel guilty at what I have, when so many have so little. But more so, I feel bad complaining about what I have. Feeling like a spoiled ‘but-I-want-a-pony’ kid is pretty confronting. And disgusting!
I feel inspired by the kids benefitting from the program. I hear their stories and I can’t help it but feel inspired. And then I hear Stella Young’s word in my head and know that they are not there to inspire me. They are just living. And then I don’t know what to do or how to feel. (And while Stella Young may have been referring to images of people with a disability when she coined the brilliant term ‘inspiration porn’, it works just as well when referring to these kids with diabetes.)
I don’t know how I go about acknowledging my privilege and not feeling guilty about it. I don’t know how to complain about some if the things that piss me off about diabetes without thinking ‘but it could be worse’.
I get mighty peeved when I hear people say ‘At least it’s not cancer’ because it starts to make different health conditions a competition. So is it okay to say ‘stop complaining – at least you don’t live in <insert country name> where you wouldn’t even have insulin and would be dead in a year’?
Diabetes is crap – it is a terrible condition, there is no doubting that. And I think it is fair to say that for some people, it is more difficult and it is more unfair. The things that make it harder for some are so beyond anyone’s control, which probably makes it even more difficult. But is acknowledging that enough?