Recent figures show that 29.1 million people in the US have diabetes. 86 million more are considered prediabetic, which means they have some insulin resistance and are at high risk.
Worldwide, that figure grows to 382 million.
That is nearly 10% of the population.
The social costs, complications, preventable deaths, and loss of productivity are staggering and well documented.
Everyone knows someone with diabetes, and yet, it is kind of swept under the rug as a fat people's or old people's disease, one that really isn't that big a deal. It's manageable, survivable, so it can't be that bad.
As I learned this week, nothing could be further from the truth.
Forget the numbers, I am talking about the human impact.
I began this week by launching a social media campaign to raise awareness for our company's needle-free insulin patches #NoPricks and www.NoPricks.com
I began by trying to spread OUR message TO people living with diabetes, getting them excited about what truly is a revolutionary product and scientific breakthrough.
However, in doing so, I briefly lost sight of the fact that the whole reason I joined this company, the whole reason we exist, is to serve people. To ease suffering.
A thank you is in order to Twitter user @PavedSilverRoad for challenging me last night- I had been using a trending hashtag to connect to people and share our message, and I was so laser focused on doing so that I didn't see what was all around me.
I stepped back, re-evaluated, and realized how amazing the diabetes community is. Some, like the user above, were rightfully skeptical of a company coming in to tell them how amazing the latest gadget was. They have been ignored at large and preyed upon by some companies who see them as profit centers.
They are people. Incredible people. Insulin is treatable, but it is also easily lethal. Imagine looking at a piece of pizza, and knowing that it could literally kill you. Planning your day around when you will need insulin injections or pump changes, how far from home you have to go, and where you will keep supplies when you travel.
As a parent, imagine having to worry when your child leaves the house, hoping they will remember to take their insulin on their own, and that they won't accidentally eat something that could be dangerous, and that their pump won't get damaged in play and will function properly.
Diabetes means a lifetime of looking over your shoulder, and requires a support network of people committed to your well-being. And still somehow and for some reason being ignored or look down upon.
I am lucky to work for a company that understands and cares about the personal and social impact that our products will have. I think it's time we all recognize not just how many lives diabetes affects, but how much it affects each life.