I discreetly signalled to the drinks waiter making his rounds.
‘Would it be possible to have an orange juice, please?’ I asked him quietly. He nodded and returned shortly after with a tall glass.
‘You’re not fun!’ said one of the people I was speaking with at the time. ‘This is way more enjoyable.’ He held up his glass of bubbles.
‘I agree,’ I said to him. ‘And I’ll have one soon. I just need this to get my BGL up. I’m a little low.’ I was actually a lot low, but I had everything in hand, so there was not need to alarm anyone.
‘You’re hypo?’ he asked. ‘Well, what’s the use of that thing if you are hypo?’ He pointed to the CGM sticking out of my arm.
He had a point. Here we were, standing around the Mural room at Parliament House, pleading our case for the value of CGM technology in the management of diabetes.
‘Ah,’ I said to him, smiling. ‘The technology is only as smart as the user. And this user has spent the last half hour running around getting things ready for tonight and ignoring the alerts and alarms on said technology. Clearly, this user is not smart!’ I drank half the juice and gently placed the rest on a table nearby.
And there lies the problem with people’s perception of diabetes technology. It doesn’t fix things; it doesn’t cure our diabetes. It is not a ‘set and forget’ situation where we no longer need to think about our diabetes. Had I been smart, I would have stopped when I first felt the alarm. At that point, I would have changed the basal rate, or temporarily stopped the pump, or had a couple of the glucose tabs that were in my bag.
But instead, I had disregarded it, and the next alarm and the one every three or five minutes, silencing them with a quick push of a button, while in my head, I said ‘In a minute; in a minute.’
In the same way that insulin is not a cure, pumps and CGMs and smart meters are not a cure. They are devices. They make things easier or better or more in line with how we want to live our life. But they are not a cure.
Diabetes technology certainly does make me feel safer. But it is wrong to say that it manages my diabetes. It helps ME manage my diabetes, but it is still all me doing it all.
And when I am ignoring what the tech is telling me, it can’t do its job. I know that. I have known that for the almost-fifteen years I have been using a pump and the over eight that I have been using CGM. These devices are only as ‘smart’ as the user…and sometimes, I am pretty bloody dumb about diabetes!