For 47 years, since he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Richard has adjusted to living with a chronic, incurable disease. Technologies, developed incrementally, have thus far prolonged his life, including synthetic insulin and smart glucose monitoring pumps. The normal expectation is that he will die, at some point, of one or another complication of diabetes, including stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. And that before he kicks the bucket he will go blind and lose alimb or two. While diabetics cling to life or like Richard stride around in the back yard, cutting down trees and hauling them across fields, they are supposed to be waiting for a cure. They are supposed to believe in the ineluctable deliverance from their condition via the “progress” of medical innovations.
He has never believed has never believed a cure was coming. He has never believed he was going to end up with a pancreas that produced insulin or had even a few functioning beta cells.
Now, with covid-19, we’ve all become Richard, and one question to consider is: to continue, do you need to believe in deliverance via a cure and or a vaccine that many experts in medical technology think unlikely? How do we go forward without this belief amid the ongoing presence of covid-19? Richard says, “You believe you’re going to die of something. You no longer believe you will die of ‘natural causes’. Our only option is reducing exposure and mitigating the symptoms. It’s the transformation of belief in medicine as a form of deliverance to one of mitigation and only mitigation, and many things that are good and in touch with reality for society flow from that. It places us in a much more collective mental space. We have to make whatever’s possible for mitigation available for everyone. And even though the rich and powerful will ride this out with more padding, they still won’t arrive at a different reality from the rest of us. Just as if it were an alien invasion.”