Phew – this week was a crazy one for me, but it was an amazing one at the same time. By now I’m sure all of you have heard about the devastating effect Hurricane Harvey had on the people of Texas, dumping more than 50 inches of rain on the Houston area.
There have been tons and tons of articles with suggestions for ways to get involved – I personally donated to Austin Pets Alive organization to help displaced animals – but I’ve also spent every day this week at work helping people with diabetes who were affected by the storm.
As I think most of you know by now, when I’m not writing for this little blog here, I work for the American Diabetes Association doing PR and Strategic Communications. What you may not realize – I know I didn’t think of this when I first heard about the storm – is that for people with diabetes, access to their medications is literally a matter of life and death, and Hurricane Harvey took away that access for thousands of people.
Imagine this – for someone who has type 1 diabetes (this is the autoimmune disease that attacks your pancreas and makes it so your body can’t produce insulin, and is usually is diagnosed in children and young adults), you need to check your blood sugar and inject yourself with insulin many times a day. People with type 2 diabetes often need to do this too, and even if their disease hasn’t progressed to the point where they need insulin injections, they usually require a daily dose of oral medications to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
When people don’t have the medications they need to manage their diabetes, they are at risk for all kinds of complications including vision loss, limb amputation, heart disease, stroke, and death. The situation is especially serious for people with type 1 diabetes – if they can’t get insulin, they die. Simple as that.
Insulin also needs to be refrigerated. And with lots of power outages in the area, this creates even more problems for people with diabetes.
So, there are plenty of people in the Houston area who were told to evacuate their homes and grabbed whatever insulin or diabetes supplies they could. Days later, they may now be realizing they’re not able to return to their houses to get more medicine, and their doctors and pharmacies are likely not operating as usual. Not to mention the fact that evacuees then have to figure out how to keep their insulin cold given significant power outages and limited access to refrigerators.
And that’s where my organization stepped in. Earlier this week, the American Diabetes Association partnered with two other diabetes orgs, JDRF and Insulin for Life, to ship more than 3,750 pounds of donated diabetes supplies to the Houston area. On Tuesday, we helped ship five pallets to the area, each of which includes 20,000 syringes, 50,000 pen needles, and 20,000 alcohol pads. We also sent separate packages containing dozens of blood glucose meters, thousands of test strips, and more than 25,000 units of insulin. Then on Wednesday, we sent four more. (I’m typing this up Wednesday night, but I bet we will send more tomorrow!)
Though I wasn’t directly involved in the shipping of these deliveries, I was directly responsible for getting the word out through our website, press release, and social media. Monitoring social media, especially Twitter, was so rewarding this week as I got to see people offer up donations and ask for help. When people tweeted at us, it felt good to have a real response to share.
Though I had a lot of late nights at work this week and was feeling super burned out at times, it’s been so rewarding to work for an organization that makes a difference for so many people.
I don’t really have a point to this blog post, except to say that I’m so proud of the organization I work for and consider myself so lucky to be able to make a difference in the aftermath of such a devastating natural disaster. And I encourage all of you to think of some way you can help out the Hurricane Harvey victims if you haven’t already. You never know what kind of impact you can have! <3
No question of the day today, I just encourage you to do something good for the world today!
Want to help people with diabetes affected by Hurricane Harvey? Make a donation to Insulin for Life! You can also share these local resources: