Well, howdy there. We’re in the last 2 months of the year. And while some people are busy firing up the holiday music and stringing up the tinsel and lights, we shouldn’t forget about all the important things that go on in November.
For starters, it’s Diabetes Awareness Month, Men’s Health Awareness Month, and My Birthday Awareness Month. OK, that last one is not actually a real thing or relevant to The Download. But we will talk about the other two items, along with a COVID variant of note and some other stuff. Don’t worry — you don’t have to cover your eyes.
November is all about diabetes awareness. And this year is particularly important because 2021 marks the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of insulin. If you’ve ever wondered how all that went down, here’s the scoop.
Dr. Frederick Banting had a light-bulb moment in the wee hours of the morning in 1920 and wrote down a hypothesis that eventually led to insulin’s discovery the next year. (His co-discoverer is Dr. Charles Best.) So if you’re ever jolted awake in the middle of the night with what appears to be a good idea, get it on paper. You just never know, folks.
November 14th is World Diabetes Day. The date marks Banting’s birthday. He seems like he was a cool fella because he once said, “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.” But, as we know, that’s not how it all went down with the three major pharmaceutical companies that produce insulin. Insulin prices are sky-high.
That’s T1International’s theme right now. The 100-year-anniversary milestone for insulin truly is a reminder to advocate. And here’s why. The following stats are estimates based on a global T1International survey of nearly 1,500 respondents with type 1 diabetes (T1D). (People who have T1D need insulin to stay alive and healthy.)
- Nearly 1 in 5 respondents globally say they ration their insulin because they can’t afford it.
- Nearly 1 in 4 respondents in the United States say they ration their insulin because they can’t afford it.
A few ways to raise awareness this November
- Check out these 10 ways to get involved.
- Follow these hashtags: #NDAM, #WorldDiabetesDay, #insulin100, #AdvocateDontCelebrate.
- Read up on “Movers, Shakers, T1D Changemakers.”
- Get involved with #TheDropSpotted campaign.
- Donate to T1DInternational.
- Learn your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Take a test to find out whether you could have prediabetes.
This month is also Men’s Health Awareness Month, so I’m listing all the doc appointments, vaccines, and screenings you should be getting based on your age, whether you’re 24 or 42.
You’re a young whippersnapper 18 to 39
- Get a physical at least every 3 years. But go more often if you have chronic health conditions or if concerns crop up.
- Find out when you had your last tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) shot. As an adult, you should get it every 10 years.
- Make sure you’ve had the human papillomavirus vaccine series. This is a cancer vaccine. (You can get it through age 45.)
- Get your flu jab every year.
- Talk with your doc about how often you should be tested for STIs and whether you should take PrEP for HIV prevention.
- Get your cholesterol checked every 5 years, but more often if you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors.
- Get checked for high blood pressure every 2 years.
- Get an eye exam at least every 2 years, but more often if you’re at risk for ocular disease.
- Get a dental exam every 6 months.
Lordy, lordy, you’re 40 (to 50)
- Get that physical every 2 years for sure, but more often if needed. Never hesitate to reach out to your primary care physician (PCP). You do have one, riiiiiight?
- Your doc may test your testosterone level in your 40s. Got concerns? Ask your PCP.
- Do you have risk factors for prostate cancer? If so, your doc may start screening you at age 40 or 45.
- You should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45. Talk with your doc about which method is right for you.
- Continue with blood pressure screenings every 2 years and cholesterol checks every 5 years, though your doc may wish to screen you more often for either or both.
- Continue with any doc-recommended STI prevention and testing protocols.
- Continue getting your flu shot every year and your Tdap every 10 years.
- Continue with eye exams every 2 years and dental exams every 6 months unless your doc wants to see you more often.
It sounds like an airline seat upgrade, but I’m talking about the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as AY.4.2, which is a Delta offshoot. You may have heard of it but have been covering your eyes when you see the headlines. Well, you can remove your hands from your face. There’s nothing to be alarmed about at this time.
This variant has gained some traction in the U.K., where it now accounts for 10 percent of sequenced samples. And although it’s been found in nine states and Washington, D.C., AY.4.2 accounts for less than 1 percent of cases in the United States.
Researchers don’t yet know what impact the variant will have in the U.S. or whether it will have an impact at all. In other words, remain calm but vigilant.
Autumn also marks deer hunting season in many parts of the country. What does this have to do with the pandemic? I’m glad you asked. Well, a study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, looked at white-tailed deer in Iowa and found that people gave them COVID-19.
The researchers sampled lymph nodes from 283 deer (some free-living, others in captivity) from September 2020 to January 2021. They found that one-third of the deer tested positive for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The study suggests that humans gave COVID-19 to the deer and then the deer also transmitted it among their fellow deer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has conducted wildlife-related COVID-19 studies, says there is no evidence that deer are playing a significant role in spreading the virus to humans.
The USDA also says there’s no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from preparing or eating venison, if that’s your game (pun intended). The agency lists safety precautions for game handling and prep in case you need any friendly reminders.
In my humble opinion, November is also a fab month to get outdoors, whether you’re leaf-peeping (sorry, just wanted to use that term), hiking, or cold-weather camping. And that is why I leave you with our guide (in partnership with our sister site Lonely Planet) to doing just that!