My name is Travis Paulson and I am from Eveleth, Minnesota.
I have been a Type 1 diabetic for many years, but affording insulin wasn’t that difficult as a child –– it was about $8 a vial. The problems came when I was in my late twenties and early thirties. I was working in finance full time and going to college full time, and my insurance had a deductible of $7,500. Insulin at the time ranged from $300 – $350 a vial, and I was requiring about 5 vials a month.
There were times I couldn’t scrape together $5.00 and was just plain poor due to these costs. On several occasions I starved myself and took less insulin than I was supposed to so my vial would last longer. Unfortunately, even doing that I would run out of insulin. I wasn’t involved in diabetes groups and knew no other diabetics. I don’t even think there was a name for rationing insulin at the time. I thought I was in a unique situation, so I didn’t reach out for help.
I would stay in bed sick and call into work sick until my paycheck cleared the bank. I’d then force myself up and get to a pharmacy and get insulin. It’s really hard to move when your blood sugar is that high. I remember feeling like I wasn’t going to make it, but somehow I did. 10-15 years ago I had never heard of anybody dying from rationing insulin, so I figured that while it wasn’t a good thing, it wouldn’t go so far as to kill me. I’ve learned since that I was just very lucky at the time –– I easily could have died.
It was during the financial crisis of 2007-2008 that I was forced to ration insulin again. Times were tough for lots of people. I remember camps of ex-financial services workers living in tents. But aside from just finding housing during the financial crisis, I had an additional problem. I had to afford my insulin. I traveled around the country working odd jobs to afford insulin and rationed what I had, living a meager existence and working warehouse jobs wherever I could.
It was after I came back home to Minnesota to get back on my feet that I decided I would no longer tolerate the abuse and hold on my life Big Pharma had. I realized I could get insulin from Canada for less than a tenth the price I was paying in the US. From then on I have been getting my insulin in Canada and helping others do the same.
The unfortunate thing is that all those years of rationing insulin have caused diabetes retinopathy, insulin resistance, and long-term complications that never would have occurred if I had access to affordable insulin. My health is what paid the price.