WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) There are many things people may not know about Randall Barker: he loves flying, his favorite candy is Skittles, he occasionally dresses as a Christmas elf, and he’s a type 1 diabetic.
Randall, like many type 1 diabetics, was diagnosed at a very young age, and for 28 years this disease has been anything but easy.
“It’s kind of like riding a roller coaster, there are days that are your good days and bad days,” says Randall. “Probably a really bad day is if your blood sugar is really high, you get really lethargic, you’re really tired, irritable, you just really don’t feel like doing much of anything.”
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that happens when little to no insulin is made in the pancreas. Type 2 happens when insulin is made, but it’s not enough to regulate blood sugar, and is usually brought on later in life from lifestyle choices and is more prevalent in certain ethnicities. Yet, these disorders are usually lumped together through many misconceptions, as Randall found out growing up.
“People hear diabetes and think well you can’t have sugary substances, or you can’t have candy or cake, and that’s actually the opposite, a person with type 1 diabetes can have those things we just have to really watch the intake,” says Randall.
Randall is now forced to keep up with his blood sugar levels everyday, and is able to do so with the help of his Dexcom G5 mobile glucose monitor. Other diabetics, however, aren’t as fortunate to have this kind of technology, or even afford insulin.
“If you just take myself,” says Randall, “a bottle of insulin, I use four of those a month, if I were to pay that with a cash price that would be upwards of $281 a bottle.”
The average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013 in the United States, causing americans to pay 10 times as much as our canadian counterparts.
The struggles diabetics face everyday has caused Randall to take action by speaking with local and state representatives on passing legislation for insulin affordability and diabetes research, becoming a leader for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and director for the Texoma Diabetes Run and Walk (D.R.A.W). He’s even gone as far as going to Washington, D.C.
There’s another reason why he’s so passionate; Randall’s daughter, Emma was diagnosed 6 years ago with type 1 diabetes. She is now the 2019 local champion for Children’s Miracle Network at United Regional.
Randall is also working on a proclamation with the mayor and city council members to officially make November ‘Diabetes Awareness Month; in Wichita Falls.