Holding Health Hostage

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I’m a diabetic. Just like my father, my mother, my sister, my brother and even our family cat before she passed away. Diabetes doesn’t just run in my family, it holds marathons. So I’ve become something of an expert on the subject.

Getting diabetes was inevitable and not something I wanted. It’s a death sentence and a slow one at that. Yes, it’s manageable but not curable. Insulin is not a cure, it’s a means to help my body do what it can no longer do. However, living with diabetes is something that becomes background noise after a while and, after a while, you learn to accept everything that comes with it like the anxiety and depression. The struggle to merely maintain your weight. Losing weight is a dream of wisp-like faeries and morning stars to wish upon.

I’m also on Income Support. What was once called welfare. I’m there because of a variety of factors which include depression, anxiety, Nonverbal Learning Disorder and other crap. Diabetes and depression and anxiety are old bed buddies. When the sugars start sliding up and down, depression and anxiety are there to make sure the ride is memorable. Freddy Kreuger memorable.

But I live with it and I work with my doctor to keep the worst at bay. It’s here where I depend on my government to put in their own effort. As someone who lives on Income Support, I need my diabetic supplies covered. This is not an option. I can’t play guess which meds we’ll take today. Diabetes is a mean bitch if she doesn’t get her fix.

So about six months ago I fought with Alberta Health to cover a drug called Victoza. Originally I thought it would help me with weight loss as it’s been shown to have a great effect on it. That didn’t happen due to a slip and fall I took in January which prevented me from exercising for a while.

However, Victoza did do something.

I need to explain something here. There is a measurement that all diabetics are aware of and that’s their A1c. This is a test that shows what blood sugars have been doing over an average of the last three months. I’m pretty sure there’s a bit of Lothlorien magic going on here as well but that’s another story.

For someone without diabetes, their A1c should be in the range of 4 – 5.6. For someone with diabetes, the goal is to keep it below 6. Back in November, my A1c was 8.3. By the time June rolledĀ around and I’d been on Victoza for only six months, my A1c dropped to 6.3.

That’s a damn near miracle.

However, this is where things get sticky. Apparently there’s a federal agency in negotiations with Novo Nordisk Canada over the price of Victoza. So, rather than cover the drug, there is a ban on any coverage at all. Simply put, they don’t want to cover it because that would weaken their negotiation strength.

When I approached Minister Sarah Hoffman’s office, I was told that they not only would refuse to cover it, they wouldn’t even try to get involved in these price negotiations because it wasn’t their job.

So let’s put this into perspective.

My health is being held hostage by a drug company, a federal agency and a provincial ministry because they all want to have theĀ upper hand in negotiations over fucking pennies.

Meanwhile, over here I’m struggling to lose weight, maintain my health, watch my sanity and keep all these balls in the air while trying to start a business and placate Income Support.

And people wonder why I am fighting so damn hard for the basic income program.

So I’ve come to a point where I just want to curl up in a ball and say, “I give up” but I’m too damn stubborn for that. This isn’t the first windmill I’ve tilted at and it won’t be the last. This is my life and health I’m fighting for.

Just call me Don Quixote

 

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Fitness Ideal; Where Is It?

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Weight Scale

Weight Scale

Okay. So a few weeks ago I started a fitness program. At the same time I gave up my weight scale, preferring to focus on becoming physically fit. However, I discovered a problem. The damn thing’s like crack. I’m addicted to that number and find myself eyeballing scales in Walmart like a smack addict eying a needle.

After only three weeks, I find that I need some kind of number to reassure me that what I’m doing has me on the right track. I need that reassurance that I’m doing it right. Part of it is a leftover from that abused little girl who tried desperately to be perfect. Part of it is the anxiety. Either way, I find myself needing that number and I want to get rid of that.

So why give up the scale completely? After all, if I’m getting fit it stands to reason that I’ll lose weight. Right? Isn’t that a good thing?

It has to do with body image and shedding preconceived ideas. The scale keeps me tied to what someone else thinks I should be or should look like. It keeps me focused on being a certain size or certain weight and if I’m going to be fit I need to move away from that. So long as I’m focused on weight I’m not focused on becoming fit and that’s where I need to be to be comfortable in my own skin.

So many people give me advice on how to be better physically. Eat less and exercise. Lose weight. Get surgery. Cut your hair. Grow it long. Paint your nails. Wear makeup. There’s so much advice that it’s hard to know where to turn next. So I have to find a direction and go that way. The direction I’ve chosen is towards becoming fit but that does not mean watching the scale. There is a misconception that thin equals fit or that fat equals unhealthy. Fit goes beyond size. I’ve met football players who top the scales at 300+ pounds and are more fit than those half their size. I’ve met ballet dancers who are so slight they look like they could snap in half in a good wind that are so physically fit they give marathon runners a run for their money. So, size does not equal fit.

However, I’m addicted to that scale. I need a number to make me feel safe. As a diabetic, I have a number that rules my life; my sugar count.

I admit I’m a bit lazy in taking my sugar count. I hate that number because it’s never where I want it to be. So, I thought I could satisfy my number craving by taking care of my diabetes. Now I try to take my sugar count regularly and, as the number hits the ideal range, I begin to realize that I’m going in the direction I want to be. I still eye that scale, though. It will always be there but I don’t need it like I did.

Yes, my fitness program has just started but I’m getting to where I want to be. I’m not a slave to the weight scale and every day I’m getting closer to my sugar count target. I still have a long way to go, though, but that’s all right. One step at a time.

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