I shouldn’t be surprised that we’re here again.
“Here” is waiting to see whether the just announced intention by the current White House to kill the Affordable Care Act is going to pick up any steam. “Here” is wondering whether type II diabetes will be classified as a pre-existing condition somewhere down the line. “Here” questioning what I’d do if my insurance provider, suddenly unburdened by the regulations of Obamacare, would subject me to coverage limits.
And, ultimately, “here” is me on my bike later this year, riding in the Pittsburgh edition of the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure and raising money so all of the other “heres” won’t matter.
I’ve talked to you guys about this stuff before, when I did the same ride up near Butler two years ago. At that point, we were in the first year of the Trump presidency and the future of Obamacare was uncertain, to say the least.
That part calmed down a bit — until very recently, anyway — but those worries were replaced by new ones … like the cost of the drugs people with diabetes rely on to manage the disease and, you know, keep us alive.
Back then, I was using injections of Lantus — a brand of insulin — each day as the primary treatment for the disease. I’m now using daily shots of Victoza to do the same thing. It helps — my latest A1C reading was 6.5, which is close to half of what it was when I was diagnosed — but it comes at a cost.
I am so fortunate — for me, that cost is largely borne by my insurance provider. If you’re underinsured, or if you have no insurance at all, you could find yourself on the hook for the full price of a three-pen box of Victoza — and that, boys and girls, costs just under $1,000. And you’d need 12 of those boxes to get you through a full year. Plain old insulin is a bargain by comparison, at $400 per box or roughly $1,200 a year.
Add to that the potential for losing insurance if the ACA goes away. Or being told by your insurance company that your rates are going to double because of your pre-existing condition. Or that we’re going to give you a thousand bucks a year to manage your diabetes, but you’re responsible for everything else after that. If that happens, even people who have good insurance could be in trouble.
The solution is the same now as it is then: Let’s not wait to see what happens in Washington. Let’s get the American Diabetes Association the money it needs to fund research and find a cure. Follow this link to my Tour de Cure page, where I will dazzle you with even more facts and, not coincidentally, you can make a donation. I’m hoping to raise $1,000, and anything you can give — ANYTHING — will be a huge help.
This is the only photo I took during the day today. (And Mrs. Crappy won’t be happy to see this one.)
It wasn’t for a lack of opportunities. On the surface, this was an amazing day, mostly because Mrs. Crappy had a rare Sunday off and I was able to spend the entire day with her: outdoor yoga, outdoor lunch, pool time and a party on the Mon Wharf with friends, cold beer and a few of our favorite food trucks.
But life is rarely that simple, right?
I know I’m not the only person who got really angry yesterday as I took in everything that happened in Virginia (I’m confident that I’m not betraying any standards of journalism ethics when I say I find white supremacists of any variety abhorrent). And although Mrs. Crappy and I had a terrific night by a backyard campfire last night, I woke up under the same dark clouds I allowed to build the day before.
And when I let those clouds to gather, they tend to hang around. I can’t say my shitty mood this morning was responsible for everything that happened today, but I think it’s probably tough to separate all of these things from the negative energy I was oozing this morning:
Was any of this a direct consequence of my shitty mood this morning? No. But:
Ashley, one of my two favorite yoga teachers, has been touching on the four yamas in the last month; they’re at the start of Patanjali’s eight limbs of the broader Yoga, and they serve as a guide for ethical conduct for those following the yogic path. The fourth yama is Brahmacharya, literally, behavior that leads to Brahman, or the highest divinity. Patanjali’s definition of Brahmacharya is pretty narrow and pretty specific to his time: Celibacy.
Yes, that’s since been reinterpreted. Ashley has talked about tailoring our actions towards the divine — definitely a goal worth pursuing. But an interpretation that is perhaps more accessible is this: The right use of energy.
And wow, that goes a long way towards explaining how today unfolded. I am a news guy; I was that way before I chose this as a profession. I’ll never be able to step away completely from what I see, read and cover — it’s part of who I am, and it always will be. And this weekend was tough. I’m a veteran and I think I’m pretty patriotic … and seeing this garbage happen in my country is deeply offensive, to the point where it feels like a physical wound.
But here’s the thing: it feels that way because I let it feel that way. When something like this happens — and, I’m afraid, it’s going to happen a lot in the next couple years — I’m always going to feel the way I felt this weekend, at least initially. After that impulse, though, I can control my reaction … and I didn’t do that today.
Not at first, anyway. When Kelly got stung, she shouted — and that sort of snapped me out of all of the other crap that had been cluttering my brain all day. We got her some ice (thanks to the kids at the Avonworth pool for their help) and pretty quickly she felt better enough to take a nap in the warm, late afternoon sun.
I knew later that my mental clouds had passed, when I realized that I had to walk back to my car to grab my regular glasses that I forgot to bring to the wharf party. If I’m in a bad mood, that’s the kind of dumb little thing that can spoil a day for me; this afternoon, it did not. I recognized that I was in a cool space, among friends, and the walk back to the parking garage was insignificant.
I need to find that more, because that’s the right use of energy.
I’m now at home. I’ve had a stunning bottle of beer.
I’ve hung out a bit with my cat.
And, thankfully, I didn’t let at shitty start to the day — and all of the weirdness that followed — get in the way of a great Sunday.
When I finished up with my Army-sponsored field trip of Bavaria and was getting ready to return to Athens, I got myself a present: a new mountain bike for riding between my apartment at West State and Shaffer and OU’s campus.
I’ve never done much actual mountain biking, but my 26-year-old purple Giant Butte (known at my local bike shop at the Giant Purple Butt) continues to be reliable. It’s mostly for recreation these days, but I appreciate the fact that the creaky old guy and his creaky old bike still have many miles left.
Both of us creaky oldsters are riding on Sunday, but not strictly for pleasure. We’re participating in the 16-mile portion of the Tour De Cure Pittsburgh, a ride to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. The ride takes place outside of Butler, on the hilly roads between the Big Butler Fairgrounds and Lake Arthur Country Club.
You guys know already that I have type 2 diabetes; that’s not really why I’m A) riding or B) asking you for a donation. I’m riding because this year is different. None of us has any idea what health insurance policy will look like by the end of this year, but there’s an excellent chance that me and my fellow diabetics could be facing the restoration of coverage limits, of premiums that jump because of our preexisting condition … or maybe being denied coverage altogether. And the potential scope of the problem — 30 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 86 million have been identified as pre-diabetic — is horrifying.
What’s the solution? A better option than waiting on the 2018 midterm elections is to find better treatment options right now. To better educate people about the disease, its causes and how the risk can be mitigated right now. To find a cure … right now.
I don’t want to leave these problems in the hands of people to whom they are abstract policy bullet points. So I’m asking you to donate — right now. Click here to get to my donor page; you’ll need just a couple minutes and a couple bucks to help solve this problem for ourselves.
And me and my creaky, old Giant Purple Butt will be honored to ride on Sunday on your behalf. Thanks.
You guys will recall that I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes two summers ago.
You may also recall that I wasn’t especially happy about it.
Since then, it’s been kind of a struggle. I did really well early on, but recently I’ve been a bit lazy, especially about running … even though it was a big reason why my A1C dropped a bunch from my initial test to my second one.
Recently, though, I’ve discovered a new motivation for getting back to the things I was doing well in the first year after my diagnosis. And that motivation is coming from Congress.
Yes. Really. Let me explain.
I am fortunate. I have pretty good health insurance. The deductibles are higher than I would like, but overall, the coverage has been excellent, particularly for someone with a chronic condition like mine. Prescription coverage in particular has been helpful. I pick up a mess of pills, insulin, needles and other fun stuff every month; if not for my insurance, I would have quickly gone broke trying to keep up.
This isn’t the case for everyone. My coverage is a luxury, and those who have a more bare bones insurance policy might struggle to keep up. And depending on what happens in Washington this summer, that problem might become even bigger. If health insurance “reform” is adopted in its current form, 22 million people who are currently covered would lose their insurance. And if any of those folks are paying for the same Lantus, the same Metformin, the same Farxiga and the same testing supplies I’m paying for, they’re going to be in trouble.
Potentially, it gets worse. The House version of the bill would end requirements that those with preexisting conditions must be covered without penalty. That means an insurance company could, for example, double or triple my premiums because I have diabetes; it also means they could just flat out drop me.
And that’s just me. The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are nearly 30 million people — adults and kids — in this country who have diabetes. Another 86 million have been identified as pre-diabetic. If a good share of those people see their premiums skyrocket — or if they lose their coverage altogether — we’ll have a full-blown crisis on our hands.
Obviously, there is a political discussion to be had here, but I’m more concerned with what I can do now, outside of whatever happens with the various health-care bills in Washington. And what I can do now is raise a little money. I can contribute to efforts that will educate people about what diabetes is and how it can be prevented. I can help ensure that treatment methods are effective and efficient.
And I can help fund research that eventually will find a cure.
On July 23, I’m going on a bike ride with Tour de Cure Pittsburgh, on a course just a bit north of Butler. I’m taking the short ride, the 15-miler, mostly because I used to live there and I know exactly how hilly that part of Butler County is:
Not a super long ride. But trust me, I’ll earn whatever money you decide to throw my way.
See how I snuck that pitch in there? Heh.
I need your help. I have to raise $200 to be able to participate in the ride. I think I can do that without much trouble, but I’d really like to double that total. And do it before July 23, which is not quite a month away. And if you have a few dollars to spare — and a minute or so as well — you can help me reach that goal by visiting here.
Remember — this isn’t for me. I’m doing OK. This is to make sure that the millions of people who have diabetes have the access to treatments they need. It’s to help others understand what they can do to avoid getting it in the first place. And, at some point soon, it will be to develop a way to fix it once and for all.
Again, please click here to donate. And thank you. <3
Some of you — mostly the ones who are running in the Pittsburgh Marathon or the half on May 7 — know this drill already: When you get to the fluid station at Mile 6+, look for the guy with the beard and the silly red Ohio State bucket hat for hugs, high fives and a cup of the best water on the course.
The guy in the red hat is me, by the way. See?
For those of you who aren’t running but might not be completely averse to waking up at 4:30 a.m. and handing off hundreds of cups of water to people as they walk by … you should join me. Yes, the hours are rough, but we’ve done this for several years in a row now, and it’s my favorite annual event in Pittsburgh. And it’s a truly gratifying experience; even if you don’t see people you know running the course, everyone is grateful that you’re there and helping out. Seriously — it’s the most fun five hours you can have on an early Sunday morning on the North Side.
How do you sign up? Get to the Marathon’s volunteer page (I filtered this link to make the course water stations easy to find in the list), and scroll down to “COURSE Fluid Station at Fulton Street between Ridge Avenue and Western Avenue (North Side; Approx. Mile 6.2).” Click the button, fill out the info and you’re ready to go. And of course while we’d be happy to have company, if you’d rather volunteer at a station closer to you, that’s perfectly acceptable. We hope we see you there.
And if you’re running this year, keep in mind that the North Side part of the course is a little different, so you won’t see us on Western Avenue. We’ll be on Fulton between Ridge and Western, just before you guys make a hard left turn to head over the West End Bridge. Just look for the hat, people — I’m easy to find.