Diabetes Lifeline: Third-Party Intervention?

A tough one today, folks. What can an “outsider” do to help someone they see neglecting their diabetes and suffering the consequences? This is the call for help in the latest Diabetes Lifeline (interactive community help category) from a woman named Nancy in the Midwest. Again, I reallyLifesaver struggled with what to suggest here. I’m sure many of you have ideas…

Dear Amy,

Can you please refer me to any link on the web re: the short and long term impacts upon a 19 year old woman/girl, who has decided to save money by stopping her insulin injections. She is dating the son of one of my good friends. She has no health insurance and is working at a minimum wage job. She lives with her parents, to whom she gives part of her meager earnings – her father has colon cancer and is not working. I won’t get into her whole dysfunctional family situation – but I would think that not getting any medical oversight or treatment for her Type 1 diabetes is playing Russian roulette in the short term – and I also wonder whether even if she at some point does start complying with the necessary medical treatment program, whether she will not have done irreparable, life-shortening damage to herself during these months that she has ignored her condition?

How is this young woman’s behavior (neglecting her diabetes) hurting her loved ones and those around her?

Her mother seems to be completely focused on her father (battling cancer) – which is understandable. Mother works full time, and father’s treatments are at a medical complex some 40 miles away from the family home. Older brother has joined the Marines – Heather says to get away from the family crisis. Father cannot work. The parents decided to continue (COBRA) only the father’s insurance. This girl works 30+ hours a week in a grocery store, but has NO medical coverage. You might say that her loved ones are neglecting her, and that is impacting her diabetes.

What is her boyfriend’s reaction? How is he involved in the illness (or not)?

She tells her boyfriend she has a “very mild” case of diabetes. I question how “mild” it could be if she was prescribed regular insulin injections. Meanwhile she is pressuring her boyfriend to drop out of college, marry her and immediately have babies — before her Dad dies! I have researched the complications of pregnancy/birth-defects for Type 1s, including the need to strictly monitor and stabilize oneself for months before becoming pregnant, etc. I would like to get some definitive statement regarding short and long term effects on any diabetic who stops taking insulin.

As a sort of “third party” in this situation, how do you think you might be able to get involved and help her?

At first, my thought was to talk with her about the necessity for her to get some kind of education so she could support herself, and at the time that she might marry and have kids, to contribute to her family’s expenses. She had talked about wanting to become a hairdresser. I pointed out that she could take out a student loan, and share an apt. with other students. She was not interested in this.

As things progressed and I saw and heard the range of bizarre behavior, I realized that only her parents could really influence her to grow up. Unfortunately, they seem only to want her to get married and move out of their house. The parents’ lack of care for her seems to exacerbate her obsession to find a man to take care of her.

Meanwhile, I think she has completely blocked out her diabetes from her consciousness. Very sad situation. It’s been a nightmare of a rollercoaster for my significant other and I. I really do care about his son…

Not an easy one, for sure. So, People, what would YOU do?

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7 Responses

  1. Lisa
    Lisa May 18, 2007 at 7:22 am | | Reply

    I feel for this woman, she needs support and guidance. Is there a local diabetes support group to help her at the local hospital or through the local chapter of the JDRF? What about the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (www.pparx.org)? There is a toll free number on the website to see if this young woman qualifies for free prescription medication. Its an idea worth exploring. I wish her the best and hope she starts to take care of herself before any complications arise.

  2. Molly
    Molly May 18, 2007 at 7:51 am | | Reply

    Many drug companies have prescription support. I know Eli Lilly provides medication for patients who make less than 200 percent of poverty level income. You might also show her figures of how much it costs to stay in the hospital for a few days without insurance. Insulin is much cheaper.

    Also, because her family is dealing with cancer, a medical social worker may be able to help. Your local 211 (if there is one) will connect you with someone who can help you navigate through the services your area provides.

    You can’t force her to go to college or make good life decisions, but you can be there to help her make the most of her decisions.

  3. Steve
    Steve May 18, 2007 at 8:04 am | | Reply

    If this girl is a type 1 and not taking insulin… The problem will go away and she won’t have to be concerned with long term complications. She’ll be dead.

  4. Erin
    Erin May 18, 2007 at 9:13 am | | Reply

    I did this when I was 19, although not under such dire circumstances (I was just in denial), and I ended up in a coma. It’s like Steve says. There is no such thing as a “mild” case of diabetes. I was lucky: I fully recovered and have since managed my diabetes well.

  5. RJA
    RJA May 18, 2007 at 11:05 am | | Reply

    Lilly Caresā„¢
    Lilly Cares is a patient assistance program provided by Lilly through the Lilly Cares Foundation. As part of the company’s efforts to provide access to our products for legal U.S. residents regardless of their ability to pay, we created a program to offer free medication, through physicians, to patients who are otherwise unable to obtain our products. Lilly Cares assists patients who are uninsured and whose income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2004, the Lilly Cares program responded to 275,000 requests, valued at $167 million, for Lilly products. Most Lilly products are available through the program.

    Eligibility is based on the patient’s inability to pay and lack of third-party drug payment assistance, including insurance, Medicaid and government, community, or private programs and cannot be eligible for Medicare. Applications are available to anyone and must be completed and signed by the patient and the physician. Patients can download a blank application from the Lilly Cares website or applications can be faxed to you by calling 1-800-545-6962.

  6. julia
    julia May 19, 2007 at 8:56 am | | Reply

    I was going to say what Steve said.

  7. LJ
    LJ May 22, 2007 at 9:58 am | | Reply

    Wow I am sorry to hear of this I have a similiar situation. My son found out he was diabetic when he was 19. He went thru a period of denial and then I think he went thru a period of I don’t care. This caused us to be in the emergency room approx every 6 months and no matter what anyone said he didnt care. This last episode left him on dialysis and we are praying he will get some kidney function back. This is so hard to go thru but really all you can do is tell them you love them, pray and realize that the decision to take care of themselves and to want to live is theirs and no matter how much we nag, call, or provide food and insulin, they have to check the sugar, they have to exercise, they have to eat right, they have to make doctors appointments……we can’t do it for them. It is a sad place to be for everyone but stay positive and do what you can but realize it is up to them.

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