Diabetes Tech: A Cure of Sorts?

It’s no secret that my cure faith is not very strong. I don’t really live my life expecting, or hoping that my diabetes will be cured tomorrow. This post sparked a fair bit of conversation two weeks ago.

For the record, I define a cure as a means to regulate my blood glucose levels without any action from myself. No finger pricks, no carb calculating, no insulin injections, no treating hypos and no thinking about the whole diabetes thing! Long, uninterrupted nights of pure sleep and leisurely days free from the stress of managing diabetes would be very much preferred.

Although I’m hardly a diabetes veteran, technology has only come in leaps and bounds over the years. And I believe that’s what we are going to have to accept as a cure, of sorts, for the time being.

I believe that the right kind of technology could be a cure of sorts. There’s talk in the Diabetes Online Community of “closing the loop” – i.e. insulin pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that “talk” to each other. There’s artificial pancreases in development, and there’s always research surrounding insulin producing cells that could one day be a game changer for us all.

Technology will inevitably make diabetes easier to manage, going forward.

Technology is spectacular. Technology means a lot to many who already use it to manage our diabetes, evidenced here. Technology would be life changing to many, evidenced here and here. Technology provides our health with the best of prospects. And I know that I am extremely lucky to be living with diabetes in 2015, rather than 1915.

But technology is damn expensive, too. And that’s the one thing that worries me.

Research and development into new diabetes technology is costly. Then there’s marketing, promotion and distribution costs. And then of course, the business is a business and needs to make a nice profit from their efforts, too.

But where does that leave the humble young adult from suburbia, working his way through life on a less than spectacular wage? Where does that leave the parent of a young child, managing diabetes on top of family and work commitments? Where does that leave the person living in a developing country, unable to access basic healthcare and diabetes supplies? Did I mention these people are all affected by diabetes?

The sad truth is that diabetes technology, and the closest thing we have to a cure, is still out of reach for many of us. I refuse to adopt a CGM, because I can think of a million other things that I’d rather invest my hard earned money into. I count myself lucky that I am in an independent situation where having a CGM is not a necessity for the time being. For many people with diabetes, it certainly is.

Research and development needs to be conducted with an end game in mind – the consumer. These advances in diabetes technology need to be accessible and affordable to the consumer. Otherwise, I fail to see how we are doing anything to help people living with diabetes. Other than making them feel marginalised, deprived and isolated.

I don’t want to place the blame on any one party. Personally, I’d just love to see government, researchers, diabetes tech companies and diabetes organisations come together to find a solution. I know, easier said than done.

The only cure that I would give everything for, is a proper one. A cure with a one time cost that leaves me forever free of diabetes. A cure that is not reliant on devices, consumables, batteries, cable cords and credit cards. Now that, I would happily give all of my life savings for.

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