Ben W.


"I know how hard my diabetes has been on my family. And I know that it’s not my fault. But the guilt is always lurking."

I’m 18 and recently graduated from Sir John A. Macdonald High School in beautiful St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia. I’m taking a year off to try to save up for training in the culinary arts at Holland College — you see, I love to cook. I’d also like to take over paying for my own medications to help out my parents. ‘Cause there’s nothing like buying your own toilet paper to make you appreciate what they’ve done for you.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was one. Management of it has always been a team effort between my mom, Michelle, and myself. Now that I have left high school I’m coming to terms with accepting, and managing, my chronic illness on my own from now on.

Not sure who it’s harder on, me or my mom.

My parents have always found a way to make sure I got my insulin, syringes, test strips and glucometer — no matter the cost. Until recently I also had an insulin pump which, despite its purpose and $6000 cost, didn’t keep my levels in check. Now I’m back on frequent daily blood testing and injections.

I know how hard my diabetes has been on my family. And I know that it’s not my fault. But the guilt is always lurking. I try to do what I can. Yeah, I know better, but I often reuse my syringes, skip tests or hold off on an injection a little longer to help the insulin last just that much longer.

While drug insurance has always been important, it is something that has always been hit or miss for us. Yet my family always found a way. Mom recently took a second job for more income, but she kept the one at Tim Horton’s because it has the drug insurance. It’s not uncommon for her to finish one job and then drive straight into the Halifax Shopping Centre for another shift, a 50 km return drive. Once I‘m 21, I’m too old for her plan (unless I go to school) then my Mom supposes she can cut back on shifts. Maybe.

While we are in a good place with coverage now, the plan only covers 80 percent of my costs. Look, I’m thankful that I don't have to pay 100 percent of my costs, but with needles, test strips and insulin it really adds up.

But here’s the thing: if I’m successful in my ambition, my chosen industry may have the worst reputation for providing employees drug benefits. So, I’m on my own if I don’t get a decent job with benefits, because private insurance won’t cover my pre-existing condition.

Mr. Trudeau, I have my whole diabetic life in front of me. How will I cope?