Friday, November 18, 2016
Billy Long: I am committed to giving diabetes the attention it deserves
Recently I was saddened to learn a buddy of mine, who I competed against regularly in bass fishing tournaments several years ago, had to have his leg amputated due to diabetes which had been diagnosed in June of 2000. He hadn't realized he had cut his foot, which later became infected. When the infection continued to spread, despite steps taken to stop the spreading, his doctor had no choice but to amputate his leg.
As of 2012, the American Diabetes Association reported that 9.3 percent of Americans have diabetes, which is over 29 million people, and each year 1.4 million people will be diagnosed. According to the Center for Disease Control, that percentage is much higher for people in southwest Missouri. Only one of the 10 counties in Missouri's 7th Congressional District is below the national average.
November marks National Diabetes Awareness month and it's my hope that during this month I not only raise awareness, but I also make sure Congress does the same. Diabetes is a serious condition that can't be taken lightly.
Just recently, the Joplin Globe reported on a story about a man who had been dealing with diabetes for 16 years. He had a scratch on his ankle that didn't seem to be going away. As time passed, it only grew worse. Finally, he went to Mercy Hyperbaric and Wound Care in Joplin to see if they could do anything. After six weeks of hyperbaric treatments, his wound was completely gone. Without this treatment, the end result might have been much different, possibly requiring the amputation of his foot. Diabetes has a number of additional effects on the body that need to be monitored.
In August I had the opportunity to talk with members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding type 1 diabetes research. Additionally, I spoke with constituents and their families who shared their stories about living with type 1 diabetes. The stories once again confirmed to me that fighting for this cause, whether it be type 1 or type 2 diabetes, is so important.
Diabetes still remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association, as of 2013, the cost of diabetes in the United States reached $245 billion. If you break it down even further, those with diabetes end up paying 2.3 times more on medical expenditures than those who are not diagnosed with diabetes.
This condition deserves far more attention than just one month of bringing awareness to the issue. As a Congressman, I will continue to stay committed to holding both myself and my colleagues accountable to making sure this issue gets the attention it deserves. I will also continue to travel all across Missouri's 7th District listening to stories and finding out new ways I can help those affected by this condition.