Appletonpictures’ NPH insulin bottle posted on light post (photo by Daniel Albanese)
A couple weeks ago I was reluctantly double-parked on 7th Avenue near 28th street waiting to meet my son’s MegaBus which was an hour & a half late.
Having so much extra time to sit and look out the windows, I noticed a large bottle of NPH on a mailbox near the car.
I used to take that kind of insulin myself, so naturally I was curious about it. Seemed unlikely that Eli Lilly and Company would have started a pharmaceutical guerrilla marketing campaign. Had to be the work of a diabetic artist.
Some online research showed that these silhouetted photos of insulin vials were credited to appletonpictures.
“I am a photographer/artist and wish to bring a better understanding of what diabetics go through day to day and how that affects everything else they do in life. Good diabetics make it look easy, people without diabetes—wonder “what’s the big deal.” We all know how heavy it can be and how diabetes is right around the corner for many people to come.”
Why would a diabetic artist, taking insulin feel the need to take it to the streets?
I can think of plenty of reasons, most all of which are economic. Having diabetes without medical insurance is strong motivation to cut corners and repeatedly reuse syringes that were originally meant to be disposable after one use.
Me, I’ve been lucky, in a way, to have managed to cover the cost of uninterrupted health insurance for 36 years. God forbid if I had ever let my coverage lapse, because then my diabetes would have become a “preexisting condition” and I would have been on my own to cover any and all diabetes-related costs.
I was also lucky to find myself in a position to become one of the early adopters of emerging diabetic technologies—insulin pumps, glucose sensors, recombinant DNA insulin. (Note: appletonpictures’ Humalog insulin bottle on right.)
Still, I’ve seen our health insurance premiums rise every year, to the point where it became the single biggest expense in my family’s budget—nearly twice the amount of our mortgage payments.
Meanwhile, the amount of coverage that our insurance actually provides has been strategically diminished, as more and more of the costs have been deftly shifted over to their customers. Where coverage for “durable medical equipment” used to require a flat copay, for example, they’ve quietly switched over to a % copay. Better for insurance companies—more of a burden for diabetics on insulin pumps.
appletonpictures, “they’ll sell’em by the dozens when we all have diabetes” (photo from theklr’s Instagram page)
One bright spot: the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka: Obamacare). The premiums for our new policy (that we just signed up for on the New York health insurance exchange) will be a third of what we’ve been paying out in this last year. Suddenly our healthcare costs will no longer exceed our housing costs.
(Another diabetic street artist, after the fold…)
The medical system has been co-opted by money, Bradley states both in conversation and in his art; that’s why he can’t get the care he needs. “I can’t rely on the system,” he says. “The system failed me a long time ago. I think it’s failed everyone because it’s based on money.”
…Working as the Kwiatkowski Press, Bradley posts his prints with a staple gun or wheat paste around Denver — on phone poles, utility boxes and walls. But his favorite locations are wherever his art will be in full view of a hospital, pharmacy or other institution involved with health care.
…Bradley works at a Capitol Hill high-rise as a janitor. He doesn’t have health insurance. He gets almost all of his supplies from medical studies.
Illboard: A diabetic artist takes to the streets, Denver Westword News
(See also: Jeannie McKendry’s Bottles with Syringes)