The one thing you need to know about me as I tell this story is that I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic.
My pancreas checked out several years ago and no longer does much. Which means that I have to manually control how much insulin I take in so I can process the carbohydrates I eat too much of.
The thing non-diabetics might not know is that insulin is a relatively perishable medication. You need to keep insulin in a refrigerator for long-term storage, and you absolutely must keep it from getting too hot — like hot-summer-day hot. If you run out of insulin and can’t get a fresh vial or pen of it, your blood sugars shoot up, you start feeling terrible, and, if this goes on too long, you do serious damage to your body and eventually die.
I tell you this to explain why, when I heard this story on NPR, I started to cry.
In the story, diabetic Juan Natal came to Puerto Rico to visit ill parents, and he got stranded there because of Hurricane Maria. His trip home to the mainland was delayed about a week, and uring his unexpectedly long stay, he ran out of money, and, more importantly, insulin.
And yet, even as tough as things were for him, Natal by now is likely (hopefully!) on his way back to his home where there are refrigerators and drug stores stocked with insulin. But my heart continues to break for those living in Puerto Rico who have no idea where their next vials of fresh insulin will come from.
So I was thrilled to see this tweet from diabetes advocate Ally (who tweets under the handle @verylightnosuga) that the Lilly Corporation was distributing vials and injection pens full of fresh insulin around the island of Puerto Rico.
— Ally (@verylightnosuga) October 9, 2017
When I saw this, I thought about Natal’s story, and I wanted to do everything I could to help spread the word. But what could I do here in central Nebraska?
Ask Hamilton composer superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose family is from Puerto Rico, to help. He’s been very busy with fund raising and activism for PR since Maria stormed through. But he’s got 1.8 million followers. What chance is there that he will see and pass this on? Can’t hurt to ask…
— Ralph Hanson (@ralphehanson) October 9, 2017
And within a couple of hours, this very simple reply pops up:
And with that emoji pointing to my request, Ally’s message took off. From Lin-Manuel’s account, within 24 hours it has been shared more than 3,500 times and liked more than 7,000 times. From my much more modest account, it’s been shared and liked more than 400 times.
And because of that, word of the problem of insulin shortages in Puerto Rico and news of the locations where Lilly is distributing it has been boosted massively. Ally’s message alone has had more than 1,100 shares.
So, thank you so much Mr. Miranda for your help! And thanks to everyone else who helped share this important message.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to help share the song and video Lin-Manuel Miranda composed and assembled for Puerto Rican Hurricane Maria relief. In a riff from West Side Story, it’s called “Almost Like Praying.” (Maria in West Side Story, get it…?) You can help with the relief effort your self by downloading the song from your favorite service. I bought my copy through iTunes.