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A Different Kind of Independence Day

July 4, 2008

Independence Day always brings a bit of mixed emotions for me.

On one hand, it’s a day to reflect on all the accomplishments our country has made in the last two hundred years, from gaining the rights to govern ourselves the way we want to providing legally certain social rights to African Americans and women. I’ve never been the kind of person to think that America is the single greatest country on Earth, but I do think that compared to many societies, we should be grateful for the opportunities we have.

It’s also a day that reminds me of how many things I am still dependent on, from the unavoidable like money and foreign oil to the habitual like greed and approval from others. It also reminds me of one thing that as a community we are all dependent on: insulin. I remember, when I was first diagnosed as a child, that insulin was the main distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Back then, of course, type 1 and type 2 were not as commonly used. In the books or articles on the disease, it was written as “Juvenile (insulin dependent) diabetes” and “Adult-onset (insulin independent) diabetes.” Now, we all know that while “juvenile” diabetes is and always is insulin dependent (despite the claims of Halle “Weaned” Berry), people with type 2 can also be dependent on insulin because their body simply can’t produce or use their own insulin well enough.

It’s a dependence that I am visually reminded of everyday by my insulin pump (or in my pre-pump years, the insulin pen I toted around everywhere). Although I value my health enough to put up with being tethered to my insulin pump, as well as my glucose meter, there are very few things I want more in life than to be able to get rid of this damn gadget.

On Fourth of July, we take time to celebrate the impact that people made on our country over two centuries ago. This encourages me that the same people who are just living their lives – working, playing, taking care of their families and trying for a better life – can have an impact on today’s world. We can gain independence from pharmaceutical companies and as a result, we will gain independence from insulin.

When that happens, I plan on setting off a few fireworks of my own.

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