Being the sci-fi and fantasy aficionado that I am, I have read numerous books and seen scores of movies and TV shows that center around some type of “end of the world as we know it” scenario.
The Stand, by Stephen King, is one of my favorite books of all-time (and the miniseries was awesome as well.) It focuses on small groups of survivors existing in a world where 99.4% of the population was killed by a weaponized version of the flu. In The Walking Dead, the world has been overrun by zombies. The book Ariel takes place when one day, all technology of any kind stops working, magical creatures appear out of nowhere, and a man and a unicorn navigate through that world trying to survive (yes, I read this book as a teenager because it had a unicorn on the cover. Love.) Then there are books like Spellsinger, Guardians of the Flame, and The Architect of Sleep that center around the main character(s) being magically transported to some alternate reality – in The Architect of Sleep, that reality is one where raccoons became the dominant species instead of humans. (Ha! Planet of the Apes has got nothing on a freaking planet of the giant telepathic raccoons!!!)
Inundated with Armageddon-like possibilities in movies, books, TV and reality shows where the contestants have to survive with limited means, my thoughts occasionally turn to….what would happen IF the world as we knew it changed for some reason, and suddenly we had to survive without power, without medical devices that require batteries….without INSULIN??!
It could regularly keep me awake at night if I let that line of thinking go too far. In my little corner of the world, the “preparation” I’ve done in case of an actual emergency is to stockpile maybe a month’s worth of insulin, syringes, test strips, batteries, pump supplies, and CGM supplies. But if the power went out f-o-r-e-v-e-r, how long would my insulin and supplies last? How would I get more? How would anyone be able to make more? If chaos and havoc reigned around the world, could I overtake the looters to raid pharmacies and get enough insulin to last me until we became a fully functioning society with regular access to medicines again? How would I physically survive without the “comforts” of modern medicine that I currently use to keep myself (relatively) healthy? I feel pretty sure things would turn quickly into “survival of the fittest” mode, and I’d unfortunately be one of the first casualties.
Most people in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario would only require the basics to survive – food, water, and shelter. But anyone with any sort of chronic disease or condition (and it goes without saying, the people in hospitals/care facilities, etc) would be pretty much at the mercy of the kindness and expertise of others in order to live. Thankfully, I have several friends who are super educated and have a wide variety of survival skills and knowledge, so connecting up with them would be my “go-to” plan if all heck broke loose one day.
Synthetic insulin crystals synthesized using recombinant DNA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last weekend, some of those friends and I were actually talking about this “what if” scenario….the group included 2 chemical engineers, an aerospace engineer, a computer programmer, and myself – the psychology major turned project manager. (I am seriously out-classed in the higher math/science department, so thank God I have such smart friends!) I was asking them things like, “would we be able to get insulin from cows and pigs like they used to do?” I am still curious as to how EXACTLY the insulin was taken from animals and purified, so if the rubber met the road in a post-apocalyptic world, I might could acquire a pet cow or pig to help me live for a while. My chemical engineering friends felt confident they could figure out how to make insulin for me, and it would be the first thing they would work on (as soon as we all had gotten to safety and avoided the zombie apocalypse or whatever had happened.) Can I just say I have amazing friends? Their willingness to take on saving my life as a top priority when the world could be ending made me feel so loved. Hypothetical situation or not, it kind of got me a little weepy.
Unless something truly earth-changing happens in our lifetime, I should never have to call in that favor from my friends. If I had any hope of the internet being available in a worst-case-scenario event, I would say all of us DOC folks could ban together and form a Diabetes Republic where we all could help each other, share supplies and knowledge, and create a safe haven for diabetics. We would learn how to make insulin, syringes and the supplies we needed to survive with whatever resources were available to us. Really, when you think about it, our whole online (and sometimes in person!) community of diabetics is already a collective group of awesome people that has found each other, shared and connected in so many beneficial ways, and made our world a better place for so many through the support and care we give each other. I think if we could all find each other in case of Apocalypse, we’d do just fine.
OK, I think I have all this “what if” stuff out of my system now, and won’t be worried about it again for a while. (But if anyone wants to start working on a secret diabetic hand-signal or bird call so we can find each other in the wild when the power goes out or the zombies start their attack, let me know…..)