On the “anniversary effect”

Leah Pellegrini
7 min readMar 15, 2021

and the stories told by the vaccine rollout, from the perspective of a person with Type 1 diabetes.

Our recycling bin is currently feathered with the torn-up shreds of last week’s New York Times magazine, and the reason is that I’m a freelancer. Since I’m self-employed, I have to buy my own health insurance. My plan’s monthly premium is a staggering $435.70. That still doesn’t cover all of the insulin and continuous glucose monitor supplies I need to survive. When I go to get refills, more frequently than not, the pharmacists balk as they ring me up and ask, “Are you sure? You know this one box costs $400, right?” With warmth, but exasperation, I usually say something like, “Well, I’ll die if I don’t take it, so yeah.” In fact, many people with diabetes do die because they can’t afford their meds, which are criminally expensive. To say that insulin “costs an arm and a leg” is not only a metaphorical idiom.

Anyway, healthcare challenges aside, freelancing is a gift that’s been accessible to me via the privilege of random natural skill and family support and higher education and a whole lot of luck, plus stubborn independence that I have to be careful not to confuse with the rugged individualism ingrained in white supremacy culture. It means I’m always able to work remotely, so the pandemic didn’t change that or render me jobless. In fact, my income was higher for those first few months than it’s ever been before or since, because I took on too many client projects and worked myself to the bone. The great thing about working yourself to the bone is that you don’t have to feel things besides stress and exhaustion, so there was only so much energy I could spend consciously processing my fear of what might happen if I got sick. But I dreamed about COVID a lot. I still dream about COVID. Anxieties about forgotten masks and noncompliant strangers and hospital visits sneak their way into almost every sleep. Here is the actual data: people with Type 1 diabetes, like me, are statistically about three times more likely to die from COVID than those without. The stats are nearly identical for people with Type 2 diabetes, the more common kind (which is, unlike Type 1, reversible, though this also requires privilege and is a subject for another day). Numerous factors have been found to be significantly associated with illness severity; “modifiable factors,” like…

Leah Pellegrini

Writer, farmer, etc, just trying to make Mama Nay proud.