29-year-old Natalie McNally, from Lurgan, in northern Ireland, suffers from type 1 diabetes. Her doctor recently told her that getting an insulin pump could greatly improve her ability to keep her blood sugar in range. However, she’s unlikely to be able to get a pump within the next four years.
“She told me an insulin pump would really control my sugars, but unfortunately the waiting list is four years,” Natalie says. “It’s really saddening to know that if I walked into a clinic in England I could get this device next week and really improve my life. It’s a really baffling situation.”
Natalie says she’s grateful for the treatment she is able to get, but it can often feel like just wasted time, effort, and money, because she doesn’t have ready access to other available treatments that could be really helpful in her situation.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of NHS funding in Northern Ireland, but I do think they’re doing their best with limited means and need further investment,” she says. “In my situation, if more money was there they would have more room for the specialist clinics. But it’s just not there for them, they’re left waiting years for a glimmer of funding. So the health service are doing a great job with what they have but they just don’t have enough.”
Natalie suffers from poor sleep, constant thirst, and weight loss due to her blood sugar being difficult to control. She worries that without an insulin pump, she may end up with vision loss or nerve damage and may even have a decreased life expectancy.
“To think that there’s a treatment out there that would improve all those symptoms and I can’t get a hold of it – it’s really disappointing. It really does get you down knowing the treatment is out there. If you dwell on it for too long you start to get angry.”
We hope stories like Natalie’s will quickly reach those people involved in procuring and distributing health-related funding in Ireland and around the globe so that people who are in desperate need of existing treatments can get them in a timely manner and for a reasonable price.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?