Texas man was hospitalized with diabetes. 3 years later, he's a lawmaker fighting insulin costs.

The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."


Taralico assumed he was dehydrated, so he changed his shirt, drank some water, and kept walking. He threw up four more times in the last 12 miles of the walk, but finished it.

"After the walk, I went to bed thinking I needed a good night's sleep," he wrote. "But I slept for 36 hours."

"My parents rushed me to the hospital where nurses checked my blood sugar. A normal blood glucose level is below 100. Mine was 900. I was immediately diagnosed with type 1 diabetes."

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease with an unknown cause. It can come on at any time but is usually diagnosed before age 40. (Most type 1 diabetics are diagnosed between ages 4 and 14.) Unlike type 2 diabetes, which can generally be controlled with dietary changes, type 1 diabetics must inject themselves with insulin because their pancreas can't produce it.

Talarico was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which will lead to a coma and death unless the person is given insulin. He spent five days in the ICU.

"Now I have a glucose monitor on my arm & take shots of insulin every day," he wrote. "As long as I take care of myself, I'll live a long life."

However, he discovered firsthand how the cost of insulin can be life-threatening for people. He pointed out that in the last 20 years, insulin prices have shot up 1200% while manufacturing costs have stayed relatively constant.

"Even with health insurance, I paid $684 for my first 30-day supply of insulin—the medicine I need to live," he wrote. "I had to put it on a credit card.

Now that I'm a legislator, I have excellent state health insurance to cover my insulin. Every Texan should be entitled to the same."

As Talarico explains it, there are three primary reasons for the price hike:

1) The $27 billion global insulin market is a monopoly controlled by three companies: Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk. They can fix their prices, and appear to increase them in lockstep with one another.

2) There's no generic option. Because insulin is a biological product and not a chemical one, it's harder to produce a generic version. "The big three companies enter into 'pay for delay' schemes where they pay potential biosimilar manufacturers not to enter the market," he wrote.

3) These companies have no competition. "The big three companies surround their insulin patent with lots of other patents to make the original patent last longer (known as 'evergreening')," he wrote. "Then they spend millions in lobbying to prevent policymakers from closing any of these loopholes."

"Putting profits over people has deadly consequences," Taralico added, pointing out that Texans with diabetes fund their necessary medicines with GoFundMe pages or resorting to the black market. "And in the richest country in the world, 1 in 4 diabetics risk their lives by rationing insulin."

Taralico's legislation would cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $50 per month, in addition to requiring the Attorney General to investigate rising prices. His bill in the House and a complementary bill in the Senate make up "a bipartisan, bicameral effort" Talarico says. If passed, the legislation would make Texas the 16th state—and the largest one—to put a cap on insulin prices.

"Insulin should be free, because insulin is a human right," Talarico wrote. "This is an idea that's time has come."

Here's hoping that the Texas legislature supports Talarico's efforts and makes this life-saving medicine affordable for all diabetics. And here's hoping that more states follow suit.


Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Laverne Cox in 2016.

When kids are growing up they love to see themselves in the dolls and action figures. It adds a special little spark to a shopping trip when you hear your child say “it looks just like me.” The beaming smile and joy that exudes from their little faces in that moment is something parents cherish, and Mattel is one manufacturer that has been at the forefront of making that happen. It has created Barbies with freckles, afro puffs, wheelchairs, cochlear implants and more. The company has taken another step toward representation with its first transgender doll.

Laverne Cox, openly transgender Emmy award winning actor and LGBTQ activist, is celebrating her 50th birthday May 29, and Mattel is honoring her with her very own Barbie doll. The doll designed to represent Cox is donned in a red ball gown with a silver bodysuit. It also has accessories like high heels and jewelry to complete the look. Cox told Today, “It’s been a dream for years to work with Barbie to create my own doll.” She continued, “I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves and have the opportunity to add a Barbie doll modeled after a transgender person to their collection.”

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.