Use your hospital!

There are a LOT of *free* resources that most of can take advantage of that are right under our nose and we don't even know about it. For me this has come in the form of my regional medical center (Southwestern Medical Center in particular, here in Dallas), but I know these advantages are inherent in the U.S. medical research system.

I was diagnosed November 20th, 2009. The very next day I was approached by the Diabetes research portion of the medical center asking if I wanted to take part in a stem-cell research study for something called Prochymal. I agreed, and as such am now getting free monthly stem cell infusions, as well as each time I go they give me different insulins (free), meters (free), strips (free) and so on. I've saved a lot of dough and been offered so many freebies of all sorts, it's crazy how much money I've been saving.

There was a recent article on the front page of the Dallas Morning News regarding a new study on Type 1's they're starting:

Since I doubt they'd let me in on this study as I'm already in another one, I forced my Type 1 friend to call the research department about it. That group of researchers, it turns out, isn't doing the particular study linked above (another department within the same medical center is)... but they have several others going on. One includes a new super-advanced, super-small pump: my friend was accepted to this study and presto, she will soon be getting a FREE insulin pump as well as FREE supplies for the duration of the study-- which is probably, at minimum, 6 months. She pretty much isn't going to have to pay a dime for the honor of using this pump, as the researches go to great lengths to make sure you have what you need.

And the thing is, these researchers are actually having problems finding people to participate! SW Medical Center for instance, was charged with getting 20 out of a nationwide 60 total participants for the Prochymal stem-cell study, and were only able to find 12 before the cut-off date.

And it's not even difficult to find out about these things! Just a quick google for the nearest diabetic research department (and I understand not everyone is near sprawling medical centers), find the phone numbers for the researchers, call them and ask 'How the hell do I get in on this?'. The thing is, they're usually crying out for patients and it won't be long before you get transferred to a Doctor more than eager to get you in on a study.

I can't even calculate how much I've saved so far, and undoubtedly my friend is getting a pump that costs well over the $5,000 average for such devices. I personally have to go to the hospital just once a month for a 4-6 hour session... they restock me on supplies, and pay me $30 for travel costs. No, you don't get money outright, but you pretty much never have to pay for diabetic supplies for the duration of the study.

So go to Google, right now, and find the nearest diabetes researchers. If you live in the Dallas area, call Southwestern Medical Center. If you live in the Houston area, call the world's largest medical center: Texas Medical Center. As for the other states and cities, most of you probably have comparable medical centers: CALL THEM, EMAIL THEM, Whatever! You will literally be shocked at what you might get out of it, and at not cost whatsoever.

I’m interested in your experience with the stem cell trial. Please write more.