Street artist Appleton has been collecting insulin bottles, syringes and blood strips since he survived a diabetic coma at just six years old. Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at that early age has made battling this disease a lifelong struggle. Appleton’s wheatpastings of insulin bottles and paintings of menacing needles with broken vials are taking strides in raising diabetes awareness and reaching out to the other millions of people suffering physically and psychologically.
Even with a strict and essential medical regimen–that somehow still consists of the positively medieval solution of stabbing yourself–Diabetes is debilitating and can be deadly. According to the World Health Organization, “Lack of awareness about diabetes, combined with insufficient access to health services, can lead to complications such as blindness, amputation and kidney failure.” Diabetes is still the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults. A Center for Disease Control Statistics Report from 2014 shows that nearly 10% of the population has it but nearly a third of them are undiagnosed. That number is in the millions. And sometimes there aren’t even symptoms. On top of that, the medication required for diabetes care is a billion-dollar industry–making one wonder about the seemingly slow advancements in treatments.
Hopefully a cure is on the horizon, and organizations like American Diabetes Association are an active part of making that happen. Until then, Appleton is here to make sure we don’t forget about the disease or the people that suffer from it. With images pasted all over high profile cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles, the duality of the message is clear. Passersby are reminded daily as they walk past images of insulin bottles, and for diabetics it’s a signal that they’re not alone.
“It is far from easy—to me and many others, it’s a living nightmare.”
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