A playlist curated by Christiaan L.

I’ll be honest, I have never been a great playlist maker. I can think of three people in my life who I am always in awe of their ability to make a damn good playlist: my sister Abigail, my buddy Joel, and of course the V Coterie playlist extraordinaire, Hamza. I, on the other hand, am someone who gets stuck in these all or nothing, hyper fixated runs of listening trends that often revolve around music that I was present during simpler times in my life. I am sure you will find that same trend within this playlist as well, but nonetheless I present to you these songs and how certain lyrics within them apply to this overarching theme of diabetes. I’d love to say that I was in a great headspace when I made this but as a result of a month of fighting health insurance for insulin coverage and trying to prove that I am worthy of simply staying alive, I am ready to burn it all to the ground.




I figured that with the somewhat angry/angsty direction this playlist is going to head, I would start it with a lighthearted, cliche track. It is right in the title and it is so on the nose. I mean, we can’t have a diabetes playlist without mentioning dropping our sugar, right?!



Being an insulin-dependent diabetic, there is this weird feeling because there are a decent amount of days where I do not “feel” sick, but I also have this chronic illness that is present 24/7, 365 that reminds me that I am also not “well." I could have a run of days where my blood sugar is in perfect range, it responds appropriately to my basal rate and mealtime/correction boluses, and I do not have any highs or lows that make me feel sick. But that doesn’t mean I am well. It just means one of two things: 1) I have busted my ass to do the work necessary to stay in range or 2) I got lucky.



I think one of the most frustrating aspects of living with a chronic illness is that it seems like many people cannot empathize with those living every day with it. Access to affordable insulin remains a major issue. People say, “Just eat better and exercise. Then you wouldn’t need insulin.” Or “Why should insulin be cheaper? I don’t need insulin. They should focus on making gas / food cheaper because that impacts more people.”

I certainly do not wish diabetes on even my worst enemies, but I do wish that people could truly understand what it takes to manage a condition like diabetes: how it consumes your attention 24/7 when you are constantly thinking about carb:insulin ratios, how you need to adjust your insulin when you are about to exercise so that you don’t drop low, and how your insulin requirements change depending on hormones, time of day, stress level, etc.

Insulin for the Win - V Coterie
Insulin for the Win - V Coterie

Insulin for the Win Lapel Pin

You Beta Work (Pancreas) Lapel Pin
You Beta Work (Pancreas) Lapel Pin

You Beta Work (Pancreas) Lapel Pin

Islet It Be (Pancreas) Lapel Pin
Islet It Be (Pancreas) Lapel Pin

Islet It Be (Pancreas) Lapel Pin

V-MOJI SERIES | RedbeardRN Lapel Pin
V-MOJI SERIES | RedbeardRN Lapel Pin

V-MOJI SERIES | RedbeardRN Lapel Pin



Continuing on from the last song, it is incredibly frustrating when those who do not live with diabetes act like the issue of affordable insulin is not a big deal when it is quite literally a life or death situation for those of us who do live with it. 1/4 type one diabetics report having to ration their insulin because they cannot afford the appropriate amount and that number is much higher amount BIPOC diabetics. We cannot continue to act like access to insulin does not mean the world because it absolutely does to those who live with this beast of a disease.



The fun (also read: terrible) thing about managing diabetes is that just when you think you have it figured out, you don’t. So many different things impact your blood sugar than just insulin, food, exercise, etc. You have to factor in stress, how much sleep you get, if you get sick, and so much more. Shit, some days it just acts up for no reason. Half the time I feel like I have no clue what I am doing and I feel like a guilty diabetic. But then I talk to others in the community and realize that a lot of us feel like this sometimes. Maybe one day I’ll figure it all out. 



In the 1920s, when Dr. Frederick Banting and his assistant Dr. Charles Best realized that they could extract insulin from dog pancreases and inject it into other dogs that had their pancreases removed, it would treat their high blood sugar. They later learned how to take insulin from cow pancreases and purify it for injection into a type one diabetic patient. They sold their patent for insulin to the university of Toronto for $1 with the understanding that exogenous insulin should be available to those who need it because without insulin, type one diabetes is a terminal disease. In the 1900s many advances were made to insulin, including the introduction of longer acting insulins and synthetic insulins. Throughout much of this time, at least until the early 2000s, insulin was still relatively affordable with the synthetic human insulin that was introduced in 1982 costing $14 per vial and the first insulin analogs in 1996 costing $24 per vial. Over the last two decades though, the cost of being diabetic began to exponentially increase. Insulin prices tripled from 2002 to 2013 and then nearly doubled 2012 to 2016 for almost the exact same product. This jump in spending on insulin was not due to increased use of insulin or the use of more expensive insulin products but primarily due to insulin manufacturers increasing prices. From 2012 to 2016, among the approximately 1.5 million Americans with type one diabetes, gross insulin spending per person increased by $2,841 to an average of $5,705 spent on insulin per person for the year. The same human insulin that cost $14 per vial in 1982, cost $131 per vial in 2016 and the first insulin analog insulin, Lispro, that cost $24 per vial in 1996, cost $241 per vial in 2016. As it stands right now, the retail price of the specific type of insulin that I use is currently anywhere from $312-$382 per vial. A lot of this increase can be attributed to the greed of insulin manufacturers and the realization that those who need insulin to simply stay alive will pay whatever is necessary to do so. The CEOs of these insulin manufacturers live like kings without realizing that they are nothing more than formalized thieves because their riches only exist off of the spoils of others. They maintain their profits off of our will to live.



It is really easy to feel helpless as a loved one of someone with diabetes in the United States. The predatory system in place continues to exist because of the financial power the pharmaceutical industry holds over our politicians. But don’t simply just cry for us, step up to the plate and help fight for us. Challenge the systems in place. Write to your representatives. Make your voice loud. Support organizations that are fighting for affordable or free insulin, like T1international. 



It is really easy to feel like a burden when you are living with a chronic illness. I remember when I first got diagnosed I was constantly angry at myself as if I somehow had any control over my immune system deciding to attack and shut down my pancreas. I felt bad that my new health problem also became my wife’s to deal with. I remember the nights when I first became insulin dependent and was having frequent low blood sugars where she would reach over in the middle of the night and touch my hand to see if it felt cold because I would get really cool and clammy hands when I was dropping low. She never once made me feel like a burden and she was/is incredibly supportive but I still could help but feeling like I had brought this new burden into her life that she did not ask for. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t still feel like a burden some days. I’d be lying if I said that I found it easy to love myself and my flaws. It takes work. It takes time. But damn it, we are worthy of that time.



I do not know what lies ahead for people living with diabetes in the United States. I can only hope that as the discussion of free or at least affordable insulin is discussed more and more in politics and the media, that we can continue to fight misinformation and lack of education on the subject. I hope that we can break the stigma that diabetes is something that is caused by poor life choices. I hope that we can continue to educate the masses about the importance of affordable insulin. I hope that we can get to a point where our politicians aren’t bought and paid for by lobbyists for the insulin industry. I hope we can get to a point where our healthcare is equitable and affordable for all. It is hard to see blue skies ahead when living with a chronic illness but we have to believe that they are coming and we have to fight to see them.



This intro to Outkast’s album, Aquemini, is one of my daily mantras and one that I choose to leave you with as the exit to this playlist. This strength may mean something different to different people. Heck, it may mean something different to the same person depending on the day. Some days “Hold on, Be strong” may mean using your strength to fight the insurance company for coverage of your medications. Some days it might mean simply finding the strength to get out of bed in the morning. Whatever your situation, hold on and be strong.

follow Christiaan at @redbeardRN