Insured insulin pumps gave diabetic man 'freedom'
Insulin pump campaign picks up steam
A man with diabetes is adding his voice to the campaign urging the Nova Scotia government to fund insulin pumps.
His insurance stopped covering the device when he turned 19.
Rob Lawson, 21, was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 10 years old.
For the first few months he used needles, but then he switched to an insulin pump.
"It takes the diabetes out of having diabetes. It’s freedom to do whatever you want, to hang out with friends, to go to sleepovers, anything like that ," he said.
Insulin pumps monitor and regulate insulin levels while delivering the drug at a steady rate to suit a patient's need. They can cost about $6,000 or more each.
His father’s medical insurance covered the pump, but when Lawson turned 19 the coverage halted. He went from changing the needle on his pump every three days to using needles six to eight times a day.
He said needles don't regulate blood sugar nearly as efficiently as insulin pumps.
As a result, he suffered health problems and missed work.
Lawson said he’s lost 100 pounds, his legs are weak and his vision has deteriorated.
"I feel like I've lost years off my life from these two years since I've been off it," he said.
The Canadian Diabetes Association said Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are the only two provinces without an insulin pump program.
It’s urging the Nova Scotia government to fund insulin pumps for all people with Type 1 diabetes in the province who wants one.
"It’s a strategic investment in health that will reduce complications, see less people in hospital and really reduce health care costs at the other end," said regional director Jake Reid.
Lawson said he hopes that will be the case for him.
He still has his pump and he’s recently discovered his work is going to start covering the monthly cost of supplies.
Lawson said he hopes the government can find enough money to fund pumps for children, and then scrape enough for adults as well.
Health officials estimate about 40 per cent of the 705 young people currently benefit from the use of insulin pumps, while another 50 per cent could benefit from their use.