I recently gave a short presentation on wearable medical devices that provide constant, real time data, and what that means for people on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis.
I had a slide that was a word cloud, including some of the (non-sweary) words I use regularly.
Being conscious that the crowd were not all necessarily diabetes-savvy, I focused on the data aspect and what that means for me emotionally more than the technicalities of the technology.
Afterwards, over tea and Arnott’s cream biscuits (Kingstons FTW!), I spoke with a (non-diabetes) healthcare professional – a GP who had never seen either an insulin pump or CGM before.
‘What great technology! It’s like you don’t have diabetes anymore,’ the GP said to me, clearly not having listened to any of my talk – especially the bit where I said sometimes tech could actually be more overwhelming and a constant reminder of my diabetes. Or the part where I said that as much as I love the devices, I still need to drive them and do a lot of work.
I shook my head gently and smiled. ‘I wish. And one day, I hope it will be like that. But this tech, whilst terrific, is part of my arsenal in the significant self-management tasks I do each day to manage my diabetes.’
He looked far less impressed.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘So it’s not all that great?’
‘No, no. I’m not saying that.’ I wondered if he had actually heard anything I said. Because as much as I talked about the overwhelming side of the technology and all the data, I spoke a lot about how useful it is too.
‘It’s complicated,’ I said. ‘Sometimes I love this tech; other times I hate it. But mostly, I am glad I can use it the way I want.’
I munched on my Kingston biscuit, thinking. ‘I guess it’s kind of how I feel about my mobile phone. I love it – it means that I can reach everyone I want to whenever I want to and they can reach me. It means I can check Twitter and Facebook to see what everyone is up to. I can check the weather. I can receive emails and reply to them all the time. It’s great, right?’
‘And it’s a pain in the arse as well. Pretty much for all the reasons that it is great. But regardless, I wouldn’t be without it.’
He nodded. ‘I think I get it now. That’s an analogy that makes sense to me. Diabetes is so huge. A lot of it doesn’t make sense.’
It was my turn to nod. ‘So much of the time I am guilty of forgetting that not everyone gets the intricacies of life with diabetes. I try not to have expectations that people know about it, but find it difficult to explain. Maybe I need to come up with non-diabetes explanations.’
‘Like ‘life is like a box of chocolates?’ Forrest Gump managed to do it.’
I laughed. ‘Actually, that’s a pretty good analogy for diabetes too,‘ I said.
He thanked me and walked away, promising to learn more about diabetes technology.
I spoke with a few other people, ate another (couple of) Kingstons and got ready to leave. As I was collecting my things, I heard the GP speaking with someone else. ‘The technology is great,’ I heard him say. ‘But it can be frustrating at times. Kind of like the frustration from having a mobile phone and being reachable all the time.’
I smiled to myself and left the room.