What Goes Around, Comes Around
Thanks to the dysfunction of our medical system and my insurance company following unnecessarily rigid rules, each month when I receive my supplies , not only do I get the 150 catheters, I am also REQUIRED to take possession of 150 urine collection kits, which I fortunately don’t need. I have had multiple discussions with my supplier and my insurance company, and they both tell me I have no choice but to take these kits along with the catheters which are a separate item. What a waste, right?
Each kit, labeled a K2, has a urine collection bag, gloves, lubricant, and wipes. The mountaineers climbing the other K2, a peak on Mount Everest, maybe could use a way to dispose of their body fluids, but I don’t know any of them to share with personally. As for my needs, they are useless because unlike those other K2 climbers, I can use a toilet, but despite my pointing out the waste to everyone involved, I still get 150 of these each month.
I tried to think creatively – what can I do with all of these other than throw them? My neurologist, urologist and therapy clinic all have been recipients of box after box over the past few years. Unfortuntely, all of them have asked me to hold off bringing more kits until they found a good use for the ones I had already gifted them with or more people who could use them. Consequently, over the past few months a corner of my garage has turned into a storage unit and I found myself with 9 boxes – over 1,000 K2 kits. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them away with the weekly trash.
I’m sure all of us have been in that spot where we have surplus medicines or supplies that we know someone else could use from but can’t quite connect with them. Unlike prescription drugs, which are tightly controlled and can’t be shared, the K2 kits have no Rx requirement and contain no drugs. Anyone can buy them and I am free to give them away – but I first have to find more recipients.
Winter is coming soon and I knew I needed to get my parking spot in the garage cleared out, and in desperation, I started making phone calls. Nursing homes – no. Senior services – no. Disability home care agencies – nope. The supplier suggest the VA center but they adamantly told me no because it would violate their rules for donations of medical supplies and mess up their supply chain. It became a challenge for me to find a home for these and the next shipment that arrived this week. I exhausted my local options and reached out to the manufacturer of these K2s and the Cure Twist catheter that I use – Cure Medical – and was able to engage with John Anderson, CEO of their company. Unlike other places I got in touch with, John took the time to understand my dilemma and suggested a possible recipient – Direct Relief.
Direct Relief, founded in 1948, is US based and assists with medical supplies worldwide to places that have healthcare problems due to economics, natural disaster and epidemics to name just a few causes. Direct Relief has a big presence in the US helping with the health needs of people living in poverty here. Their major effort right now is to supply aid to contain the Ebola outbreak in Africa and keep it from spreading. After many emails with their acquisitions coordinator to verify what I had, and that it was not expired or prescription only goods, they reviewed my offer and said they would take all of my K2 kits if I could send them to their California warehouse.
Now shipping one box at a cost of $24 would not be so painful to my budget, but I had 9 boxes ready to send so I did what I thought reasonable and went back to John and Cure Medical and asked if they would be willing to give me their UPS shipping number and cover the costs. I immediately got a reply from John and he sent me all their company shipping information. I should mention that I already like Cure Medical because they donate 10% of their net sales to medical research and their willingness to cover this cost (over $200 if I paid it myself) reaffirms their commitment to making this world better.
In a crazy route, my catheters and K2 kits are shipped from California to my supplier in Oklahoma. They ship them to me in Ohio, and now I have sent them back to California to make their way to Africa. Those K2 kits have had quite the journey and it has not quite ended. I commend Cure Medical for their commitment to be a part of the solution rather than just gather profits from those of us connected to their products. And I recommend you take a look at Direct Relief and their projects and see if there might be a way you can support their humanitarian efforts.
There’s so much need in this world and if only I had been born into a wealthy family and inherited vast sums of money or been an entrepreneur and founded the next highly profitable mega-corporation, I would have the resources to give to all those places that could use a bit more help. That was not my destiny but I still continue to look for ways I can give – it might not be my money but it can be time, services or goods.
Not everyone will have 1,000 kits to give away like I had but I ask you to think of what else you might have in excess that might be used by others. Women’s shelters always welcome toiletry items and are happy to take those little bottles you might bring home from a hotel stay. Things like wound dressings and band-aids are always needed at homeless shelters; they also like gently used towels/wash cloths to give to their overnight guests. If you don’t have goods, perhaps you can give some of your time. Schools are always happy to have adults come and read to classes, help with activities or mentor and tutor students with special needs. Big or small, have you found ways to make a difference?
What goes around, comes around is another way to express that doing good creates good things for the giver (karma). I would love to hear what you do to complete this cycle.
wishing you well,