You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Pumps’ category.

This week, for the first time ever, I had no anxiety at all as I prepared for my visit to my endocrinologist. I always feel that I have to put in a disclaimer here, because I make it sound like my endo is a tyrant. She’s not. She is the kindest, loveliest, smartest, most respectful health professional I have ever seen. My anxieties are my own, not a result of the way she communicates with me.

Anyway, now that the disclaimer is done, I walked into her office with a sense of calm. And excitement. It was my first post-Loop appointment. I’d eagerly trotted off for an A1c the week earlier (another first – this diabetes task is usually undertaken with further feelings of dread) and was keenly awaiting the results.

But equally, I didn’t really care what the results were. I knew that I would have an in-range A1c – there was no doubt in my mind of that. I know how much time I am spending in range – and it’s a lot. And I have felt better that I have in a very, very long time.

The eagerness for the appointment was to discuss the new technology that has, quite honestly, revolutionised by diabetes management.

I sat down, she asked how I was. I marvelled – as I always do at the beginning of my appointments with her – how she immediately sets me at ease and sits back while I talk. She listens. I blabber. She never tries to hurry me along, or interrupts my train of thought.  I have her full attention (although I do wonder what she must think as my mind goes off on weird, sometimes non-diabetes related tangents.)

And then I asked. ‘So…what’s my A1c? I had it checked last Wednesday.’ She told me and I took in a sharp breath. There it was, sitting firmly and happily in what I have come to consider ‘pregnancy range’. Even though that is no longer relevant to me, it frames the number and means something.

I shrugged a little and I think perhaps she was surprised at my lack of bursting into tears, jumping up and down and/or screaming. I wasn’t surprised. I repeated the number back to her – or maybe it was so I could hear it again. ‘And no hypos.’ I said. ‘And minimal effort.’

I’ve had A1cs in this range before. In fact, I managed to maintain them for months – even years – while trying to get pregnant, and then while pregnant. But the lows! I know that while trying to conceive and during pregnancy, I was hypo for up to 30% of the time. Every. Single. Day.

It was hard work. No CGM meant relying on frequent BGL checks – between 15 and 20 a day. Every. Single. Day. And it meant a bazillion adjustments on my pump, basal checking every fortnight and constantly second guessing myself and the technology. Sure, that A1c was tight, but it was the very definition of hard work!

This A1c was not the result of anywhere near as much effort.

Surely the goal – or at least one of them – of improved diabetes tech solutions has to be about easing the load and burden of the daily tasks of diabetes. I’m not sure that I’ve actually ever truly believed that any device that I have taken on has actually made things easier or lessened the burden. Certainly not when I started pumping – in fact, when I think about it, it added a significant load to my daily management. CGM is useful, but the requirement to calibrate and deal with alarms is time and effort consuming. Libre is perhaps the least onerous of all diabetes technologies, yet the lack of alarms means it’s not the right device for me at this time.

These tools have all been beneficial at different times for different purposes. It is undeniable they help with my diabetes management and help me to achieve the targets I set for myself. But do they make it easier to live with diabetes? Do they take about some of the burden and make me think less about it and do less for it? Probably not.

Loop does. It reduces my effort. It makes me think about my own diabetes less. It provides results that mean I don’t have to take action as often. It takes a lot of the thinking out of every day diabetes.

So let me recap:  Loop has delivered the lowest A1c in a long time, I sleep better that I’ve slept in 20 years, I feel better – both physically and emotionally – than I have in forever. And I feel that diabetes is the least intrusive it has ever been.

Basically, being deliberately non-complaint has made me the best PWD I can possibly be.

Oh look! Your phone can now be deliberately non-compliant too, thanks to designer David Burren. Click on the link to buy your own. (Also comes in black and white.)

Advertisements

Following last week’s post about how my ADATS’ talk was received, several things happened. Firstly, I was contacted by a heap of people wanting to chat about the reaction. Secondly, I was sent several designs of logos and t-shirts with ‘deliberately non-compliant’ splashed across the front, which obviously I will now need to order and wear any time I do a talk (or am sitting opposite a diabetes healthcare professional). And thirdly, discussions started about how we manage our diabetes ‘off label’.

While off label generally refers to how drugs are used in ways other than as prescribed, it has also come to mean the way we tweak any aspect of treatment to try to find ways to make diabetes less tiresome, less burdensome, less annoying.

When it comes to making diabetes manageable and working out how to fit it into my life as easily and unobtrusively as possible, I am all about off label. And I learnt that very early on.

Change your pen tip after every use.’ I was told the day after I was diagnosed, meeting with a diabetes educator the first time. ‘Of course,’ I said earnestly, staring intently at the photos of magnified needles showing how blunt the needles become after repeated use. ‘Lancets are single use too.’ I nodded, promising to discard my lancets after each glucose check. ‘You must inject into your stomach, directly into the skin – never through clothes, and rotate injection sites every single time.’ I committed to memory the part of my stomach to use and visualised a circular chart to help remind me to move where I stabbed.

Fast forward about a week into diagnosis. Needle changed once a day (which then, in following weeks, became once every second day, every third day, once a week… or when ‘ouch – I really felt that’); I forgot that lancets could be changed; speared (reused) needles directly through jeans or tights into my thighs, having no idea which leg I’d used last time.

And then there were insulin doses. ‘You must take XX units of insulin with breakfast, XX with lunch and XX with dinner. That means you need XX grams of carbs with breakfast, XX with lunch and XX with dinner. These amounts are set and cannot be altered. You must eat snacks.’ I took notes and planned the weekly menu according to required carb contents. Within a week, I’d worked out that if I couldn’t eat the prescribed huge quantities of carbs, I could take less insulin and that all seemed to work out okay. And I worked out how I didn’t need to have the same doses each and every day. It was liberating!

I switched to an insulin pump and the instructions came again: ‘You must change your site every three days without fail.’ I promised to set alarms to remind me and write notes to myself. ‘Cartridges are single use,’ I was told and vowed to throw them away as soon as they were empty. Today, sometimes pump lines get changed every three days, sometimes three and a half, sometimes four and sometimes even five. Cartridges are reused at times…

I was also told to never change any of the settings in my pump unless I spoke with my HCP. But part of getting the most from a pump (and all diabetes technology) is about constantly reviewing, revising and making changes. I taught myself how to check and change basal rates – slowly and carefully but always with positive results. (For the record, my endo these days would not tell me to never change my pump settings.)

CGM came into my life with similar rules, and as I became familiar with the technology and how I interacted with it, I adapted the way I used it. Despite warnings of never, ever, ever bolusing from a CGM reading, I did. Of course I did. I restarted sensors, getting every last reading from them to save my bank balance. I sited sensors on my arms, despite warnings that the stomach was the only area approved for use. I started using the US Dex 5 App (after setting up a US iTunes account and downloading from the US App Store) because we still didn’t have it here in Australia, and I wanted to use my phone as a receiver, and seriously #WeAreNotWaiting.

And today…today I am Looping, which is possibly the extreme of using devices off label. But the reason for doing it is still the same: Trying to find the best ‘diabetes me’ for the least effort!

The push back to curating our diabetes treatment to fit in with our lives is often frowned upon by HCPs and I wonder why. Is it all about safety? Possibly, but I know that for me, I was able to always measure the risk of what I was doing off label and balance it with the benefit to and for me. I believe I have always remained as safe as possible while managing to make my diabetes a little more… well, manageable.

It can be viewed as rule breaking or ‘hacking’. It can be thought of as dangerous and something to be feared. But I think the concerns from HCPs go beyond that.

As is often the case, it comes down to control – not in the A1c sense of the word, but in the ‘who owns my diabetes’ way.

When we learn how things work, make changes and adapt our treatment to suit ourselves, we often find what works best is not the same as what we are told to do. And I think that some HCPs think that as we take that control – make our own decisions and changes to our treatment – we are making them redundant. But that’s not the case at all.

We need our HCPs because we need to be shown the rules in the first place. We have to know what the evidence shows, and we need to know how to do things the way the regulators want us to do them. We need to understand the basics, the guidelines, the fundamentals to what we are doing.

Because then we can experiment. Then we can push boundaries and see what is still safe. We can take risks within a framework that absolutely improves our care, but we still understand how to be safe. I understand the risks reusing lancets, or stretching out set changes by a day or two. Of course I do. I know them because I’ve had great HCPs who have explained it to me.

Going off label has only ever served to make me manage my diabetes better. It has made me less frustrated by the burden, less exasperated by the mundanity of it all.

And the thing that has made me feel better – physically and emotionally – about diabetes more than anything else is using Loop. So, use it I will!


It seems silly to have to say this, but I will anyway. Don’t take anything I write (today or ever) as advice. I’m not recommending that anyone do what I do and I never have.  

Helen Edwards from Diabetes Can’t Stop Me has written a thoughtful piece today on her blog about why she has ‘broken up with CGM’.

I truly love this post, because it once again reinforces the ‘one size fits no one’ approach that I have always advocated when it comes to diabetes.

As I read Helen’s story, I realised I could have written this post. I was reminded of the long and very winding road that it took for me to get to a point where I could live comfortably with all the tech. Learning to love it took even longer. It certainly was not love at first sensor! For a long time, I felt overwhelmed by all the data, the alarms drove me to distraction and I struggled at times to live with an invisible condition when all my robot bits are on show.

I showed the below photo during my talk at ADATS last week. It’s from a few years ago (and accompanied this post) when I was really struggling to live alongside CGM. I had to work up to convince myself to put on a sensor and made all sorts of deals to try to limit the stress I was feeling. I turned off all the alarms except for the low alarm. I promised myself that I would rip the sensor out if I was starting to be paralysed with all the information being constantly thrown at me. And I reminded myself that the data was just numbers trying to retrain my brain to not feel judged by the electronic device.

This wasn’t the first time I made such a deal with myself. And it took this and many other attempts of starting to wear CGM before everything feel into place. There were times where I pulled sensors out after two days because I just couldn’t cope with it.

Learning to live alongside diabetes technology is not an easy decision. There is bargaining, sacrificing and trade-offs. The tech is brilliant, but it rarely, if ever, works as simply as the shiny brochures promise. It’s not perfect and the limitations of the technology should never be blamed on the person wearing it.

Also, it’s no good speaking to people like me, because I’m all evangelical about it and spend all my time telling people how much I love it – while conveniently forgetting how long it took to find that place.

The tech is not for everyone and no one should be made to feel bad if they choose a more analogue approach to diabetes management. This is another slide I showed at last week’s ADATS meeting (from this post):

Right device; right time; right person. The right device might actually be no device at all. And that is absolutely fine!

(Hat tip to Professor Tim Skinner for the title of today’s blog post.)

In an effort to terrify the bejeezus out of healthcare professionals get the word out about Loop and OpenAPS to a group of diabetes healthcare professionals, I decided to work my Loop story into my talk at last Friday’s #ADATS meeting. I was a little nervous about it, but being on the ADATS Committee, and recognising the name of the conference – Australasian Diabetes ADVANCEMENTS and TECHNOLOGIES Summit – I knew that there was no way I could talk about the latest diabetes tech advances and not talk about the DIY movement.

To set the scene, I started with the old chestnut of showing how far diabetes technology has come:

Then showed a slide with all our shiny new tech:

But then I stopped, and changed the slide a little, leaving the same photos, but altering the title to ask a question:

And then, I showed them what cutting edge diabetes tech really looks like:

I used the next slide to explain how I drive my Dtech these days, and how my iPhone and Apple Watch are part of my diabetes tech arsenal.

‘So…How many of you know about OpenAPS or Loop,’ I asked. Very, very few hands went up.

What about Nightscout? How many of you know about, and understand,d Nightscout?’ A few more went up – but really not many.

I nodded my head, completely unsurprised.

Then I told the audience I’ve been using Loop for almost three months. I explained how I ‘hacked’ an insulin pump, ‘became an app developer and built an app’… and now, my basal insulin is fully automated. I showed a screenshot of the app, and pointed out the dozens and dozens of small basal rate adjustments automatically made every day.

I explained how much better I feel, how much more time my glucose levels are in range and how I simply wouldn’t be without this technology now. I told them how I now wake up feeling that I can move mountains because night after night after night my glucose levels remain in a flat, straight line thanks to those micro basal adjustments, and I wake to a number that ranges no more than between about 5mmol/l and 5.8mmol/l.

‘How many of you are a little scared by this?’ I asked and waited. Hands shot up; many heads nodded. I waited some more, shrugging my shoulders a little.

‘This isn’t the scary future,’ I said. ‘It’s not dangerous, futuristic or downright terrifying – which is what I’m sure some of you are thinking. This is happening here and now. There are two other people in this room using one of the two systems and there are probably around thirty people across Australia who have started using one of them.

‘And if you are a healthcare professional working with people with diabetes, it makes sense to be aware of these technologies. Also, Nightscout has been around for a number of years now. It’s really not okay if you are working with people with diabetes and you don’t know about Nightscout…’

I know that my talk received a mixed reception. There was a lot of nervousness from some of the device company reps in the room – especially the maker of Loop-able pumps. Some HCPs were simply aghast and did nothing to hide their feelings, one person telling me that I was being irresponsible doing such a thing and even more irresponsible talking about it.

But others were far more interested. The rep. with type 1 diabetes from a device company who announced at the end of the day that he was ‘going home to hack his insulin pump’ was obviously interested. As were a number of other people with diabetes in the room. A couple of HCPs spoke to me about my experience, and one told me that he knows someone in the process of setting up Loop.

But mostly, there was nervousness and shock that not only is this happening, but that there are step-by-step instructions online so that anyone can get onboard. ‘You mean that ANYONE can access the instructions? For free? So any of my patients could do this if they knew about it?’ asked one endocrinologist while a diabetes educator he works with stood behind him sharing his horror. ‘Yep!’ I said cheerfully. ‘It’s all open source. No one is trying to make a buck out of this. It’s for everyone. Isn’t that fantastic! They didn’t share my enthusiasm.

Here’s the thing…I wasn’t (and am not) for a moment suggesting that it is the role of HCPs to start recommending this technology to the PWD they see. But it is naive of them to deny it is happening, or that the only way people with diabetes will find out about it is if their HCP mentions it. Also, I’m not recommending that everyone with diabetes should find a suitable pump and start Looping. I’m simply sharing my story – which is what I have always done here on this blog, and elsewhere as a diabetes advocate.

The title of this blog post came about when I mentioned the mixed reception a little later on in the day. I was sitting with three others at ADATS (who I knew would be sympathetic), and psychologist Tim Skinner commented that one of the reasons that HCPs might be so uncomfortable is because I am going beyond simply not following their directions of how I should be managing my diabetes. ‘You’re actually being a deliberately non-compliant diabetic,’ he said cheekily (Tim was one of the authors on the Diabetes Australia Language Position Statement, so he knew the response he’d get from me using such terminology). ‘This is a lot more than simply being ‘non-compliant’. You have actively hacked a diabetes device and are using that to change the way you are managing your diabetes. Deliberately non-compliant!’

He’s right. I never thought I’d wear the term ‘non-compliant’ as a badge of honour, but right then and there, I kind of was.

Even my t-shirt is deliberately non-compliant. (You can get your own by clicking on the photo.)

 

LOOP!!! I know you want more info. You can read my last couple of posts about my experience here and here, but the full details, continually updated by the brilliant Loop and OpenAPS brains trust can be found here. Read them. Also, you may want to join the (closed) Looped Facebook group. And if you are in Australia, we have our own (closed) page dedicated to local issues at Aussie Aussie Aussie. Loop, Loop, Loop. (And just a reminder – no one can build your Loop system. You have to do it yourself, but it is actually super easy once you have all the components.)

Disclosure

My travel costs were covered by the National Association of Diabetes Centres, the organisers of ADATS. I was on the ADATS organising committee.

Our kid has always enjoyed drawing. I’m someone who struggles to draw a stick figure, so I am frequently impressed by her ability to sketch and paint things that are actually quite good, and I’m able to easily identify.

The other day, I was tidying up the kitchen table when I came across one of her sketches. I picked it up and looked at it. ‘This is gorgeous, darling,’ I said to her as she sat at the table doing her homework. And then I stopped. ‘Wait…why are you drawing a woman pole dancing?’

Exhibit A

She looked at me with that expression that only a teenager-in-training can, and then started laughing. ‘Mum!’ She exclaimed, taking the drawing from my hands. She turned the paper ninety degrees, and held it up to me. ‘It’s a witch on a broomstick!’

Exhibit B

Ah, perspective!

On Friday last week, I spoke at the first Australasian Diabetes Advancements and Technologies Summit (#ADATS) in Sydney. My talk was ‘The consumer perspective on new technologies. So, as usual, I crowd sourced some ideas from Facebook friends. I do this for two reasons… one: it gives me the opportunity to share the thoughts of other PWD so that my voice is not the only one heard. And two: I’m lazy.

I centred my talk around the love/hate relationship I have with diabetes technology and asked others to give me a couple of dot points on what they love, and what they don’t really love (or hate) about diabetes tech.

In many cases, the things people love are also the things they hate, and that makes so much sense to me!

Our perspective of our diabetes devices can change all the time. Some days, I am so appreciative for all the information my diabetes technology offers; other days I want to ignore it as it just makes me want to cry. Sometimes I love the devices and I can’t imagine being without them; other days I long for my body to be free of them. Some days, I love the alerts and alarms, and respond to them promptly; other days, the noise is unbearable and I switch off everything I can so I don’t need aural reminders of just how hopeless I am at diabetes.

My perspective can spin on a coin, and often it takes very little for me to move from loving every piece of technology to wanting to bin it all.

The point of my talk was not to bitch and moan about the technology I know I am so fortunate and privileged to be able to afford and use. It was to try to explain that the bells and whistles, and data and information can truly be wonderful. But our feelings about the tech will change (often several times in the space of a day) and this does affect how we feel about our diabetes.

Disclosures

My travel costs were covered by the National Association of Diabetes Centres, the organisers of ADATS. I was on the ADATS organising committee.

In my jet lagged stupor (HI! I’m back!) I reached for my phone in the middle of the night, and as I scrolled through my social media feeds, I was promptly alerted to the fact that Animas Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care company, was out of business. Effective immediately, Animas pumps would no longer be supplied in the US or Canada

My initial thought: ‘No surprises here.

My second thought: ‘What a mess.’

(My third thought: ‘Jet lag sucks.’)

So, what does this mean for Australia? Australian Medical and Scientific Limited (AMSL), the Australian distributors of the Animas pump, have today stated that the overnight announcement does not affect Australia. Supply of Animas pumps, pump consumables and technical support will continue.

So, business as usual?

Well yes. It is. And that’s great for people who are using Animas here in Australia. Unlike our friends in the US, we are not suddenly being forced to make an urgent decision about which pump will be changing to.

But can we say business as usual when we know not that there will be no upgraded, updated or new technology from Animas in the future? I don’t really think so. One of the important factors of diabetes tech is the element of ‘what’s next?’ There is no ‘what’s next?’ from this company.

The pump market seems to keep getting smaller. Deltec Cozmo and now Animas are all out of the game in Australia leaving us with less and less choice. (Cellnovo has delayed their 1 October launch for another month.)

My fear is that we will end up with no choice at all. I am very much turned to the US right now with my eyes are firmly planted on Bigfoot Biomedical and Beta Bionics as I watch the developments of their automated delivery device systems. And, of course, I have particular interest in how they are going to supply markets outside the US. Are they even going to supply markets like Australia?

This is not a good day for people with diabetes.

Happier days with my Animas Vibe pump.

It’s both exciting and slightly demoralising walking around the exhibition hall at a truly international diabetes conference. Exciting because it’s often where new things are launched. And it’s a good place to find coffee. Demoralising because a lot of the exciting things will never make their way to Australian shores. And the coffee can be really shit (the Lilly coffee stand was staffed by Aussie baristas, so it because my favourite!).

On day one, I wandered around the Expo Hall at EASD, doing the circuit a number of times. I seemed to find myself repeatedly drawn to stands showcasing insulin pumps. Maybe it was subconscious. Maybe it was just that their stands were the brightest!

Interestingly, Medtronic was not at EASD. Their absence was conspicuous – especially in a week of another product recall – and one that really is significant. I did see several talks that mentioned the 670G however, so it was disappointing that they were not here to answer the questions that many people seemed to have. (Although, given that I spent most of my time with European advocates, those questions would have all been variations of ‘When are we getting it?’…)

Animas was tucked away in the corner of the J&J stand, with no news on offer about where things are with the long-promised, and long-awaited Vibe Plus which is integrated with Dexcom G5. Rumour on the street (but it is just rumour) is that it’s not happening any time soon.

There was little mention of the Roche pump offering on their stand, although there were images and sales staff to answer questions. But there is nothing new coming in this space from them at the moment with most of their energies being dedicated to MySugr, GoCarb and the Senseonics implantable sensor.

I said hi to the European Cellnovo staff (all of whom somewhat disconcertingly knew who I was). They are super excited about launching in Australia. There is nothing new from them at this stage (but you can read my initial thoughts on the pump here, and Frank Sita’s here.)


No stranger to the Australian market, DANA had a pretty damn big and glossy stand here at EASD, proudly branded with their somewhat odd tag line is ‘Ubiquitous insulin pump’. DANA in Australia (distributed via a third party) has had some issues in Australia recently – mostly to do with the availability of their infusion sets.


The most exciting news from DANA was their big EASD announcement of their new pump – the DANA RS. You can read Mike Hoskins’, from Diabetes Mine, scoop about it here, but the essence is that the pump is ‘Android OpenAPS-able’ without the need for an additional piece of hardware. This is a very big step in the very right direction for integration of pumps with the whole #WeAreNotWaiting philosophy and congrats to the team for embracing it.

What I’m far less enthusiastic about is that DANA has persisted with using a proprietary battery. I find this really, really appalling and utterly non-user-centric. This was the case with the previous DANA R pump, and to replace the battery, users needed to place an order for cartridges.

No idea when the new DANA will be in Australia… I guess it’s just a wait and see, but absolute credit to DANA for making it possible for people to use Android OpenAPS with a new pump.

Ypsomed (‘Ipso-med’) had their nifty Ypsopump (‘Ipso-pump’) on show and I had a little play. It’s fun – I like the look of it and it is super-easy to use. I’ve been told that they are heading down under, so please do watch this space!


And finally, the bright and shiny team from Kaleido were brightly and shinily showing off their pump again. It still is beautiful. It still is fun. It also still is not on the market. I really, really would like to see them actually get to launch stage. And soon.


Okay, so the pump wash-up in relation to Australia is this: it looks like we might actually start to have some real choice on the pump market in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. I remain frustrated with the current situation, dismayed that if I wanted a new pump this very minute (which I am entitled to) my choice is a pump that is just too large and clunky with features that just don’t work for me, or exactly the same pump as I’ve been using for the last four and a half years. Come 1 October Cellnovo will be ready to go with consumables on the NDSS, and there is the first hint of improved choice for people with diabetes.

And that can only be a bloody good thing!

A recurring theme throughout last week’s ADS ADEA meeting in Perth was the need to manage expectations. I think, in general, we do a really lousy job of this in diabetes.

We’re told that can expect to live a ‘normal life’ after a diabetes diagnosis, when that’s not necessarily the truth.

We’re told we can expect to eat whatever they want, when really, the effort that goes into calculating medication doses depending on the nutrient value of our foods is hard and it may be easier for some to actually limit food choices to make things a little easier.

We’re told to expect a cure in five years’ time, when the truth is that a cure is not even on the distant horizon.

We’re told that we can expect new technology to significantly reduce the burden of living with diabetes, when the reality is that sometimes, it’s more – not less – work.

We’re told to expect person-centred care, when, really, our health system, is not designed to cater for the individual needs of people living with diabetes.

We’re told that emerging technology will be fully automated, smart and cure-like, but we are not told that there will still be human-input necessary and that the devices are not as smart as a functioning pancreas.

We’re told that if we keep our A1c below 7% we can avoid complications, and yet, there is no guarantee, and some of us do develop complications despite an A1c regularly hitting that magic number.

We are told that if we count carbs and dose the right amount of insulin at the right time, we can keep our glucose levels in range, often neglecting to be told that there are a lot of other factors at play.

We are told all this, and then, when these expectations are not met, we are told we’ve failed. Or we are disappointed.

Here’s the thing. The tools are actually really great. Our health system here in Australia is mostly terrific. The majority of our HCPs genuinely do want to give us the best care they can. We don’t need to oversell things as much as we do.

Our expectations are being set so realistically high, that it’s impossible to meet them.

So, THIS is what I would like to say about all the things I’ve covered above to help manage expectations:

Your life will be different after a diabetes diagnosis. But that’s okay. Your new normal is going to be different to your old normal, but hopefully, there will be very things that diabetes will prevent you from doing. Acting like a pancreas is not really normal, but you can do it!

Yeah, you can eat whatever you want. But it’s undeniable that certain foods are harder to manage after your pancreas decides to go on strike. Find what works for you – and that can change. But do be prepared for food to become something that can be a little fraught because you may find that some of your most favourite foods are a little difficult to deal with.

Researchers are brilliant and amazing and the advances in diabetes management are actually quite mind blowing, but a cure? We’re nowhere near that yet. Keep up to date with everything and try to mine through it to work out what is relevant for you. Keep getting excited about management and tech advances – but do keep it in perspective. (Also – consider the source. I promise you that the Channel 10 news or Buzzfeed is NOT going to be where you learn that diabetes has been cured forever.)

You are going to have a lot that you will want to know and work through, and possible a variety of healthcare professionals to see. As wonderful as it would be to have someone to coordinate it all for you, you’ll have to put in the leg work to find the right team, the right service and the right people. And then, once you’ve found them, it’s still up to you to direct what you need. Otherwise you might find yourself at the mercy of a system that is not really going deliver exactly what you need to get the most from it.

You may have heard that in the US there is a (hybrid-closed loop) pump/CGM combo. Some are calling it an artificial pancreas. It’s not. The tech is incredible, but it’s not fully automated. It still requires calibration and it still requires operator input. This is not me being negative, because the tech is exciting. It’s me being realistic about the level of automation

No new devices are going to completely remove the load diabetes adds to your life, or your involvement in their operation.  Insulin pumps need buttons pushed; CGMs need calibration, food needs to be considered. Full automation may be the goal, but it’s a while off.

An A1c of 7% or below will indeed reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related complications and there is a lot of evidence to support that. But it doesn’t eliminate the risk. That’s the annoying and somewhat unfair reality of diabetes. Unfortunately, it’s the reality. Obviously, do what you can to manage your diabetes as well as you can. But don’t expect that a number is a guarantee of anything.

Carbs and insulin are only part of the equation. How you’re feeling emotionally, illness such as colds and flus, hormones, nutrients other than just carbs, the phase of the moon (well, maybe not) … all these impact on your numbers. And they change. Don’t expect that there is an equation that will work all the time.

In life, we’re often told to expect the unexpected. But in diabetes, the unexpected is often only that way because what we have been told to expect is unrealistic. If we were told the truth, and provided with realistic expectations from diagnosis – and throughout our diabetes lives, perhaps we wouldn’t feel that we’re constantly falling behind and failing.

Here’s me and my boss talking about expectations in technology. 

Disclosures

Roche Diabetes Australia has covered my travel and two night’s accommodation for my stay in Perth as I am a presenter at the Roche Educators Day (RED). There is no expectation from Roche that I will write anything about the RED, but I expect I will because it’s always such an interesting and enjoyable day!

The remainder of my time in Perth is part of my role at Diabetes Australia.

New York in the rain is quite magical. That’s probably something only tourists say, but it’s what I was thinking as I emerged from the subway, way, way downtown on a cold and wet January afternoon early this year.

I hurried along the busy business district streets to my destination – an old cosy pub, chosen by the local I was meeting because of its historical significance (which you can read about here).

I was catching up with a diabetes friend – one of the smartest people in the game – to chat about what was going on in our respective diabetes worlds.

After a while, we started talking about how exciting new tech developments will be finally coming to market in just a few short years. And then, he told me about Loop, showing me his phone and briefly explaining what it was all about.

I was enthralled. ‘Wait,’ I said. ‘So, your iPhone now drives your pump? And basal rates are adjusted automatically?… Whoa! Send me all you can about it,’ I pleaded, after he promised that it wasn’t that difficult to set up.

This was back in January. It’s now August. In the intervening months, I read through the documents and have had conversations both on and offline about Loop and what it does. I searched through my diabetes cupboard for the pump I’d need (finding my old-school Medtronic 522 hidden away).

In May, I bit the bullet and ordered one of the components required to build my rig. About ten days later, a box arrived and inside was a tiny little computer and battery – my RileyLink. I took them out of their packaging, running my fingers over them gently… and then got scared and popped them back in the box, and left the box at the back of my desk.

Hello RileyLink!

Every time I sat down to work, I’d see the box and sometimes I’d take a peek inside again. And then I’d read the documents again, each time a little more committed to get started.

In San Diego, I chatted with a few people who had taken the leap to Loop, everyone telling me that it was life changing and also promising that it wasn’t too hard to set up. I kept having conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with people from all around the world who were Looping, every one of them urging me to get on the bandwagon and offering to answer any questions I’d have.

I joined Facebook groups, continued to read over the documents, and every time I was ready to go, I freaked out about how technologically advanced it all sounded, and how technologically inept I am, and shut everything away.

Until ten days ago. Ten days ago, I did take the leap. I read through the Loop documents another time. I told myself that I could do it. And I started. Step 1….

I hit a snag a few steps in, but fortunately was meeting a Twitter friend on Wednesday to chat. He is not technologically inept. In fact, he is the complete opposite and answered all my (probably rather silly) questions and didn’t even roll his eyes once.

I went home with Loop installed on my phone and proceeded to enter all my settings into it.

I played around with the app and before I knew it, I was blousing directly from my phone (rather than from my pump):

After a couple of days of running open loop, I took the plunge and switched to closed loop. And waited and watched. The circle on the top left hand corner of the app closed and I waited for the automation to begin. And begin it did!

‘OHMYGOD,’ I squealed to Aaron, as the first basal adjustment was made. ‘LOOK AT THIS! IT’S ADJUSTING MY BASAL RATES ALL ON ITS OWN. LOOK, BABE. LOOK!!! THIS IS JUST LIKE YOUR PANCREAS…Except it’s a mobile phone, mini-computer thingy, insulin pump and Dexcom. BUT I’M JUST LIKE YOU!!!’ To his credit, Aaron nodded his head, pretended he was as excited as me, and agreed that this was EXACTLY the same as a functioning pancreas.

I admit to being more than a little fascinated and obsessed with watching what Loop is doing and the accuracy of its predictions.

This morning’s waking Dex number. And the Loop app showing me how we got there…

I’m only a few very short days in and already, I can see that this is giving me a whole lot more insight into my diabetes. I had a very minor car accident the other morning and seeing the adrenalin spike, and how Loop managed to deal with it, was amazing. I would have rage bolused the spike which would have inevitably resulted in a low. Instead, I resisted the urge to bolus and allowed an increased basal adjustment to bring me back into range slowly and safely.

Obviously, as with everything to do with diabetes, Loop isn’t for everyone. But for me – firmly in a diabetes rut and living in pump limbo – this has been just what I’ve needed to get me re-engaged.

My clever mate David (who is running Open APS) 3D printed me a case for my RileyLink. In pink, to match my pump.

Wait! What is Loop? If you are interested in reading about Loop and how to get up and running, all the info is here.

It arrived in the post back in April: a little package from my pump company reminding me that my pump warranty was due to expire and it was time to start thinking about getting a new pump.

Inside the thick envelope was a shiny brochure with bright pictures of people looking very happy and excited with life, while wearing an insulin pump; the insulin pump the company was suggesting should be my new pump. The insulin pump that has been my insulin pump – the exact same model I trialled for the first time back in January 2013 and have been shoving down my bra for the last four years. Nothing new to offer; no design changes; no software upgrade. Exactly the same pump.

Today, I am walking around with an out of warranty pump. Does this concern me? Well, yes and no. If I didn’t have a couple of old pumps at home in my diabetes cupboard, I’d be far more concerned.

I don’t particularly feel any loyalty towards one particular pump or pump brand. I know that there are some people who are very much Team Pump Company A or Team Pump Company B. My feelings about pumps are they deliver insulin. I know that some have different bells and different whistles, but I just need something that is going to easily and accurately deliver the drug that keeps me alive.

Making the decision four years ago was a no brainer: I was desperate to use Dexcom, so I chose the pump that integrated with it. These days that’s less of an issue because I use G5, so integration with a pump is less of an issue.

To be honest, I’m a little cross. As someone who is clearly a Dtech enthusiast, it’s laughable that I would even for one minute consider committing for another four years to a pump that I have already been using for four years – and let’s remember, it wasn’t new when it arrived in Australia; friends in Europe had already been using the Vibe for a couple of years when we eventually got it here. Can you imagine committing to using the same model mobile phone for eight years?

Plus, it’s worth noting that the look of the Vibe is very similar to the Ping and 2020, both of which had been around for a number of years before the Vibe. The design is well over ten years old and you bet that’s important if I’m wearing the bloody thing 24/7.

My trial last year of the Medtronic 640G, truly the only real innovation in pump technology in recent years, left me cold. I found the sensor accuracy a problem, which negated the excitement I had about the SmartGuard technology. And I found the pump clunky and big, and struggled to get it to fit comfortably down my top.

If I’ve ever understood the reason for the whole #WeAreNotWaiting movement, it is right now. It’s why I started reading up on Loop and ordered what I need to get my own build underway. I’ve not had the time or headspace to actually do anything about it yet, but right now, it’s the only thing that is giving me any buzz about real diabetes tech advancements here and now.

So, for the time being, I’m in pump limbo (which sounds like an cheeky game that happens after a few drinks at a DOC get together, but really is not). I’ll get around to working out if I can manage to get Loop happening and see how I go with that. But I can’t see that there is any likelihood that, unless absolutely critical, I’ll be getting a new pump soon. My PHI will be pleased about that. Even if I’m not.

Follow Diabetogenic on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Read about Renza

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Archives

Twitter

%d bloggers like this: