Daffodils in Rock Creek Park
I took a taxi from Capitol Hill to my brother’s house on Garfield Street the other day. It was a rainy day in Washington, with water sluicing down the windows of the cab as I gazed at the passing scenery. The driver glided through Rock Creek Park and I noticed the daffodils were starting to bloom. Spring had arrived in D.C.
Those bright yellow daffodils weighted down by splashing rain, deprived of warm sunshine, suggested a metaphor for my day, my mood. I had spent the past seven hours lobbying Congress and felt both hopeful and beaten down.
Lobbying Congress is not something that ordinarily fits into my schedule, but I had signed up to be an advocate for diabetes and the Big Event was a day on the Hill, visiting senators and representatives to ask them to vote for funding for NIH and CDC for diabetes research and prevention programs.
With another woman (we were the only two from the Constitution State), I had dutifully sat with aides from Senators Blumenthal’s and Lieberman’s offices and from Congressman Himes’ and Congresswoman DeLauro’s offices. John Larson, Joe Courtney, and Chris Murphy did not schedule meetings with us, but Margaret and I stopped by their offices nonetheless to drop off our “leave-behind” packets.
Our state is pretty blue, with only Senator Lieberman, as an Independent, not swimming in an azure sea of Dems. Everyone we met assured us her boss (and all the aides were women) enthusiastically supported funding health care and would like to see a cure for diabetes. When Margaret and I met with Congresswoman DeLauro, we were accompanied by someone from the American Diabetes Association as well as by a diabetes researcher from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who had recently been appointed to a presidential commission for health care. You see, Rosa DeLauro is on the Appropriations Committee and so our lobbying effort needed bolstering by two people who actually knew what they were talking about.
My daughter, Laura, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 13 ½ months ago and while she is handling it beautifully and is doing well, I need to do what I can. If I were rich, I would throw money at it. There is hope for an artificial pancreas, which would make so many lives so much better. And there is hope for a cure. I learned in Washington that talk of a cure being “just around the corner…certainly in the next 5 or 10 years” has been circulating since the 1950s. Yet, most advances in care have happened in the last 15 years, so perhaps there really could be a cure.
I learned how vital it is to keep money flowing to NIH and CDC and universities that work with governmental grants. We can’t expect the private sector to look for a cure. Why would they? Most private research is done by drug companies and let’s face it: They make a lot of money on insulin, test strips, pumps and all the other things that people with diabetes need. In 2007, about $174 billion was spent on diabetes care. GULP! (I don’t have numbers for more recent years.) Considering that one in three babies born in this century will develop diabetes in their lifetime, we’re talking about big bucks. We’re talking about an epidemic. (At the same time, we’re talking about an enormous burden on the health care industry and taxpayers.)
And so, I come back to the daffodils in the rain. They represent bright hope and better days to come. The rain could be viewed as life-giving, but I will be a little more obvious and say it represented my tears. Tears of frustration with the possibility that the government might not fully fund diabetes research, tears of sadness that my bright, young daughter battles with this every day, and tears of gratitude that she —and so many others — is doing well.
copyright © Mary Goodbody