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'It's one of our most frequent calls' Local paramedic speaks out on Diabetes Alert Day

Tuesday is Diabetes Alert Day, a one-day "wake-up call" that focuses on the seriousness of the condition.

Posted: Mar 26, 2019 4:34 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2019 10:04 AM

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Tuesday is Diabetes Alert Day, a one-day "wake-up call" that focuses on the seriousness of the condition.

Here's why this day matters:
-Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in Indiana.
-Roughly one in 10 adults in Indiana is living with diabetes.
-Almost one in four adults living with diabetes don't know they have it.

One in four people living with diabetes is unaware they have it. This photo shows News 10's Lacey Clifton getting her blood sugar taken, as diabetes runs in her family. (WTHI Photo, Lacey Clifton)

News 10 spoke with one woman who found out she was one of the "one in four". Her name is Brenda Vorek. She didn't have diabetes in her family, so she thought she was in the clear. But unfortunately, the condition does not discriminate.

Vorek reflects, "For your pancreas to just stop working one day when you're 24, and that's never even been a problem before, that's something that I never expected to happen."

It's been seven years since she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The health condition took Vorek by surprise and changed her life forever.

She explains, "Figuring out carbohydrates versus insulin, it's a whole calculation in your head, really. Of trying to figure out what I can eat, how much of it I can eat, and what I have to take insulin-wise to fix what I ate."

After years of trial and error, Vorek has learned how to manage her blood sugar. But she says it's truly a tricky balance for most. Vorek sees diabetics struggling to maintain their blood sugar all too often. That's because she's a paramedic.

Vorek shares, "It's one of our most frequent calls, is a diabetic emergency because so many things can happen if you're too low, or if you're too high."

Vorek says each diabetic is like a thumbprint, no two are alike. Therefore, blood sugar management is unique to each person. However, she says by using her personal experience, she can help put struggling patients at ease.

She explains, "For that patient to not understand why they're feeling the way they're feeling, it's hard. And you know, so, I feel like I relate to them, I can talk them through it and let them know like, 'I have this insulin pump in my pocket like I'm the same as you. Let me fix you, let me help you.'"

Vorek credits a large part of successfully managing her blood sugar levels now, to finding a good endocrinologist, and getting an insulin pump. However, she says the biggest adjustment at first was paying for the life-sustaining insulin.

Vorek says, "I was hospitalized for three days, and then I was sent home with just a prescription for insulin that was over $1,000 for one of the two types that I needed because I didn't have insurance. From there, it was a battle to find insulin every day."

Before she got insurance, Vorek faced the tough decision of rationing insulin for a period of her life. Unfortunately, it's a common practice among the diabetic community in an effort to save costs for the life-sustaining drug. Diabetes Alert Day is also a good time to draw awareness to this terrible and dangerous trend.

She shares, "People are dying because they're having to ration their insulin. I was there once. I had to ration insulin. I could only take my insulin when my sugar was above a certain number because I couldn't afford it, and that's wrong."

To take the Diabetes Risk Test, and for more information about the condition, click here.

Another local diabetic, Alex Harvey, says she would like to start a movement at least locally to raise awareness of the difficulties diabetics face. She says it’d be a dream to be able to offer resources to help diabetics that struggle to pay for the products they need.

If you would like to share your story with Harvey or are able to help start this grassroots movement, you can email her at: asheaharvey@yahoo.com.

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