Friday, March 25, 2016

The cost of living

There is a cost for everyone in order to survive and stay alive. Fortunately, most people just have to consider the cost of food, shelter, air and other basic necessities. I am not as fortunate. If you've been reading my blog, you are well aware I have this little chronic illness known as type 1 diabetes. In fact, on Tuesday, I will celebrate my 26th diaversary. Twenty-six years and I'm still alive and kicking, although I'm not always sure how I've made it so long because I had quite the rebellious streak in regards to proper management. In addition to all of the basic needs you all have, I need to purchase insulin to survive. Insulin is the equivalent of life support it. Without, I die. Then again, if I take too much or too little, I could also die so there is quite the fine line survival with this so-called life support. 

At the start of the year, I switched my insurance plans. Recently I went in to pick up my refill of insulin. And this is what the register displayed for two vials:

Go ahead and let expletives ramble in your head. As I attempted to not break down in tears in the pharmacy and continue with my other shopping, I called my mom. Mom and I bonded as I browsed the greeting cards finding a card for my niece's birthday. Mom went on a rant. I was ranting. I fought the tears thankfully. Mom remembered when insulin cost $11 a vial and was promised the price would never, ever rise. I fully admit, I'm not the best at math but clearly it was a lie back in the day and prices have obviously risen. 

It is interesting because the price of insulin has been a hot topic since the start of the year. To be honest, it is always a hot topic among people with diabetes but now others are taking notice and making waves. 

For example, on January 29, an article was published on Market Watch titled Eli Lilly's revenue boosted by jacking up cost of insulin for diabetics. Revenues for Humalog, their fast-acting insulin, increased by 20 percent. When the company had a call about earnings, they were asked about the pricing. John Lechleiter, chief executive officer, said "higher prices makes sense because it helps the company fund the research needed to find better treatment methods or a cure." 

Okay, that makes sense. Except I'm not hearing a thing anywhere about any research they are doing. I'm hearing lots about Tidepool and Nightscout and a researcher on the East Coast whose son has type 1 diabetes and is determined to develop an artificial pancreas before his son goes to college. But I'm not hearing a darn thing about what Eli Lilly is doing. Since I'm hearing nothing, I can't quite buy into Mr. Lechleiter's reasoning. 

Did you know the World Health Organization considers insulin an essential medicine? Obviously. It keeps me and millions of others alive so I think it is essential. But maybe I'm too biased. As an essential medicine, insulin should be "at a price the individual and community can afford." I'll be honest, I'd like insulin to be free but I'd use the money saved to go buy high-end shoes. But I would like insulin to be affordable so myself and other patients don't have to compromise our health. Some people restrict how much food they consume to restrict how much insulin they use so they don't have to spend so much money buying more insulin. By doing this, they are depriving themselves of valuable nutrients. And people skip checkups to save money because those cost money too. As someone with diabetes, I must have a general checkup, my diabetes checkups, my woman's checkup (diabetes can cause havoc there), my eye checkup (diabetes can cause blindness) and my dental checkup (again, diabetes causes problems). I don't get a choice unless I want to put myself at risk for complications. These are just a few of the aspects. 

Just over a month ago, Kasia Lipska, who is a doctor, wrote a powerful op-ed piece in the New York Times about why the insulin racket needs to be broken up. Why prices are getting out of control. Why people should have to make compromises to afford this versus that to stay alive. Dr. Lipska explains the issue of patents and manufacturing insulin and why no generic insulin exists in the marketplace. If I tried to summarize the article, I would not do it justice. Please take a few minutes to read the article here

How is it the diabetes world can be making such amazing strides (our technology is a million times more advanced than what it was when I was in high school not that long ago) yet we can't make insulin affordable for everyone who needs it? The diabetes community is finally finding its voice. Find #WereNotWaiting on social media to see how we are pushing and finally demanding better lives. 

But also, the insulin needs to be made affordable because with each price increase my hopes for a cure die a little. I know it does for other people with diabetes. It dies because we see the pharmaceutical companies looking at us like cash cows. I see a thought bubble above their heads stating "As long as they need insulin to live, they will pay what they have to, so no need for a cure. By the way, was the offer accepted on the private island I want?" I may be wrong in thinking this is how they see us but I don't believe I'm wrong to have developed this opinion because if they truly wanted to make life a little better for us as we battle and conquer a chronic disease, they'd make insulin affordable which would help eliminate the stress and fear of if we can afford our medical necessities to live another day. 

Thanks for reading this post. It is from my heart and is extremely important to me. For those not closely connected to diabetes, I hope it has opened your eyes to yet another aspect of life for people with diabetes. 

And here are some older pieces in the media about the cost of insulin: 
NPR: Why is insulin so expensive in the U.S.?
CBS News: How drug companies keep insulin prices high
Seattle Times: Patients shocked as insulin prices climb higher  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stich Fix to the rescue

I am slacking on the blogging. I have so much I want to say and share and yet I'm hustling and bustling with everyday life I sometimes wonder how I'm keeping my head above water. 

Stitch Fix number 15 arrived at the end of January. I requested my go-to stylist and she did not disappoint. I would love to share her name but out of fear too many people will request her and then she won't be able to style me, I'm going to be selfish and not share her name. Sorry. 

I requested only tops for this fix, particularly winter friendly tops which aren't bulky. I love buying skirts but often find myself without appropriate tops for them. Same with pants. Looking in my closet, most of my tops are more appropriate for late spring, summer and early fall. I began writing this post shortly after I received my and it was winterish weather where I live. As I completely this post, it is now spring weather with upper 60s and low 70s. Thankfully nothing I was sent were heavy tops. So, here is what was in box number 15. 

Item 1: Fierro Elbow Patch Crew Neck Sweater by Market & Spruce 

This was the first item I saw in the box and as soon as I touched it I was in love. It is beyond soft. It isn't a heavy bulky sweater which is perfect since I live in the south.I didn't notice the elbow patches right away. They are definitely not something I would normally be drawn to. I tried the sweater on and loved it. It works great with jeans or a skirt if I want to wear it to work. Verdict: Keep 

Item 2: Aryana Mesh Back Knit Top by Loveappella

As I pulled this top out of the box, I grew excited. It has an edge to it. Not quite my style yet it fits my personality. I knew it would be a keeper. The only downside is I need to wear a strapless bra and no matter how skinny/tiny you are, those bras are  evil and cause extra blobs of back fat/fat rolls around the band of the bra. Seriously. They are evil. I hate them. I'm not brave enough to wear this to work but it is perfect for weekends and nights out. Verdict: Keep 

Item 3: Berneen Printed Dolman Knit Top by Market & Spruce 

This is the first fix, at least of what I can recall, which has included the Market & Spruce brand. At first glance, I liked this shirt, particularly the pattern. Not completely my style but enough of my style to make it work. I tried this on late at night and I fully admit to not having the greatest lighting in my home so until I went to check out I thought it was black and white. Nope. It is navy, not black. That causes a few issues with what I wanted to wear it with but I can make it work with other items. Verdict: Keep 

At this point I was in love with three of the five items. Did my stylist hit another home run? 

Item 4: Calhun Wide Lace Trim Knit Top by Papermoon

This top is cute. It fits nicely. It is perfect for work. Not my style for when I'm out with friends though. Honestly, not completely my style. I'm not sure if it is the lace or the sleeves or a combination of both. I waited until the last moment to make a decision on my fix. As it sat in the box with everything else, it continued to grow on me. I decided to keep it because perhaps it will continue to grow on me. I have yet to wear it but have challenged myself to wear it within the next two weeks. Wish me luck! Verdict: Keep 

Item 5: Celso Mesh Detail Knit Top by Loveappella 

This top resulted in a true facepalm moment. I am not and never have been a big floral person. Same with lace. Although I can be pretty girly, I'm not overly girly. Nearly every fix includes a floral item. And every time I mention when I return it I'm not a floral person. I love and adore my stylist but I'm not sure what her reasoning/motive/plan is with all the floral. I told her I'd add to my pinterest board all the floral items I have in my closet. Guess how many I have? Three! Only three! I took pictures and need to add them to my board before my next fix. It is a nice shirt. There is nothing horrible about it, it just isn't me. Even my mom said so. 

As I reviewed my fix and prepared to check out I was faced with a conundrum. Do I keep the floral shirt or return it? It wasn't horribly expensive but would I wear it? If I keep all five I'd receive the 25 percent discount. Looking at the discount it covered the floral shirt and three-fourths of the cost of the lace shirt, which was growing on me. What to do? I ultimately decided to keep the floral shirt in hopes it too will grow on me. Only time will tell. Verdict: Keep 

So, this was fix number 15. I think I am officially a loyal customer of Stitch Fix. If my stylist ever leaves, I will be in shambles. I already struggle with changes. I need to determine what to request in fix number 16 at the end of March. Also? How can we already be thinking of the end of March? Time is flying far too quickly for me. 

If you are interested in experiencing Stitch Fix, please use my referral code so I can receive a small amount of credit and continue my addiction: