My name is Denise and I’m from Ludington, Michigan. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1995, and ever since I’ve been trying to figure out how to pay for all the medications I have to use to control the condition.
The first medication I tried was metformin, but in 2010, my blood sugar levels got to a point where I had to switch to Lantus. Though Lantus was working well for me, it wasn’t covered under my Medicare plan, so I was put on Novolin and an oral gliclazide.
A few years ago, my doctor wanted me to try Trulicity. It was incredible for my health — my blood sugar levels were always stable and within normal range. I could get up and do the things I wanted, and eating something sweet wouldn’t result in a spike.
However, Trulicity was more than I could afford. A month’s supply cost around $250, and it eventually threw me into the Medicare donut hole. I began relying on the Trulicity samples that the manufacturer sent to my doctor. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been far fewer shipments of samples, and I haven’t been able to access Trulicity for months now.
Coming off of Trulicity has been so difficult — I gained 25 pounds in one month and felt hungry all the time. I’m back on Novolin and am still taking the gliclazide. While it costs just $50 a month now, it’s much harder to manage my diabetes. I struggle with my diet and the fluctuations in my blood sugar levels. It feels like my diabetic neuropathy has gotten worse — my legs and feet feel numb more often, and I’ve lost my balance and fallen a few times.
I get depressed because I can’t do the things I used to, and my life a year ago when I was taking Trulicity is so different from my life today. It’s hard to keep up with my grandkids because I can’t feel my feet, and the numbness in my body affects everything. I used to be very active and loved dancing and swimming, but now I can barely go up and down the stairs. When I go to the bathroom, I have to make sure my feet are planted before I take a step and map out everything I can hang onto.
If it weren’t for the cost, I would switch back to Trulicity in a heartbeat. But it’s hard to justify paying so much for one drug when my husband and I have to think about all the other medications we need as well, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, restless leg syndrome, and seizure prevention.
I was a nurse for decades before retirement, and now I can’t access the drugs that I used to help provide for my patients. A few times, my husband and I couldn’t afford our groceries, and we had to go to the food bank in order to pay for our medications.
It’s hard to believe that with all of the advances in medicine, I still have to think about what I can and can’t afford instead of taking what works best. It seems like these medical advances are really for just the few — and Washington isn’t doing anything to help people like me.