Throwback Thursday: Thinking About An Insulin Pump

Almost two years ago, I attended an insulin pump information evening. Today I’m looking back at that evening, and some of the reasons why I began thinking about pumping.

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Last night, I attended an information session on insulin pumping.

I’ve been on Multiple Daily Injections since I was diagnosed five years ago. I’ve never seriously considered an insulin pump, and I can’t say that I know too much about them. I’ve thought about going to one of these information sessions over the years, but it was just one of those things that I never got around to. Okay, truth be told I procratinated on RSVPing to those events until it was too late. Over and over.

I guess what motivated me this year was the fact that I am now a part of the Diabetes Online Community. I think, talk and write about diabetes every day. I feel more motivated towards my diabetes managment, just from interacting with you. I see so many of you blogging, tweeting, screenshotting and instagramming pump stuff each day. I want to understand it. And I want to seriously consider it as an option going forward.

Representatives from a few of the insulin pump companies were there to chat to before and after the session. I’ve never seen such eager salespeople out there in full force, desperately wanting our business. When our fantastic host asked for some sample tubing to show us, it literally seemed like a race to see which rep could get to her first. As I asked one of the reps if a meal bolus was as simple as inputting the number of carbs into the device, she began hurriedly cramming in as much information as she could before the talk resumed. I’ve never seen anything like it.

The topic of Continuous Glucose Monitors came up briefly. As I have written in recent days, Continuous Glucose Monitors aren’t subsidised by the government here in Australia. The cost of purchasing a CGM device and its operating consumables is excessive. While having a CGM may not matter to myself, I know that it could make a world of difference to young children and parents out there.

I thought it was rather interesting to hear the representatives in the room quickly removing themselves of any responsibility for those excessive costs. They urged us to write to our Members of Parliament. They urged us to lobby the government for subsidies towards CGMs and diabetes devices. As though it’s out of their hands.

These companies are responsible for the excessive costs of these devices. I hardly got the feeling that these people genuinely wanted to help me make my diabetes management easier. I so badly wanted to know if they even had diabetes themselves!

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Excuse ranty, 2015 Frank. In hindsight, that evening probably could have been designed a little bit better. The good news is that on Thursday October 12, Perth Diabetes Care will be hosting a tech evening, designed by people with diabetes. I’ll be speaking about my own journey with technology, all of the highs, lows and everything I wish I was told on that evening. If you’re in Perth I highly recommend you come along, have a play with the tech and meet other people with diabetes. Details below.

Prioritising Emotional Wellbeing in Diabetes Care

How many healthcare professionals ask you “how are you going” during an appointment?

Not how are your numbers going.

Or how your diet is going.

Or, how are the number of hypos you are having each week going.

When I say ‘how are you going,’ I mean ‘how are YOU going?’

I must admit that I was surprised in hearing psychologist Lisa Robbins express confidence in the abilities of diabetes healthcare professionals to identify burnout triggers, during our live webcast at DX2Melbourne. It’s my view that the right healthcare professional would be able to identify those triggers.

In my humble experience, I often felt a lack of emotional support from my endocrinologist and my doctor in my early days of type 1. I never felt that they had the time for me on a busy clinic day, and I didn’t really feel too important when there were younger children and families around who understandably required more attention.

It was often hard to open up and be honest with them for fear of judgement. My very first endocrinologist told me that I had very poor control, just weeks after my diagnosis. Meanwhile, my general practitioner often told me that “my sugar levels are too high” without actually offering anything more substantial or helpful.

For the record, I certainly don’t expect that an endocrinologist or general practitioner should have to fill the role of a counsellor. They are qualified professionals in high demand. No doubt they have far better things to do with their time than listen to me blubber on about my diabetes.

However, I do expect that health care professionals will listen to me. I do expect that health care professionals will make me feel comfortable to open up to them. I do expect that health care professionals will look beyond what’s written on the charts and talk to me about what’s going on. I expect that health care professionals will show some empathy during consultations. And I expect that healthcare professionals will offer support and encouragement.

This is not a big ask. This can be done. Even on a busy clinic day. Even when time is limited. Even if you’re meeting me for the first time. Even if you are a general practitioner who is not a diabetes expert. Nobody has to be qualified to be supportive and empathetic, in my opinion. Above all, prioritising emotional wellbeing will assist diabetes healthcare professionals to better address the need for any further psychological support.

Emotional wellbeing helps me to see value in my diabetes healthcare team. It encourages me to continue to manage my diabetes to the best of my ability. A good experience motivates me to keep in touch with my diabetes healthcare professionals and to ensure I have my regular checkups. Above all, emotional well being has helped me to prioritise my health. It’s the difference between walking out of the doc’s office holding back tears, or with the biggest grin that I can’t wipe off my face.

Obviously, my endocrinologist and general practitioner are only individual pieces of the “emotional” support puzzle in my diabetes care. I have my wonderful diabetes educator, who has my undivided attention during every 60 minute session I have with her. I have my family at home, whom I have learned to lean on a little. There’s the wonderful Oz Diabetes Online Community, who I can hang out with on Twitter every Tuesday night. I have my soapbox right here at Type 1 Writes, where I can vent about any topic of my choosing. I also have some amazing d-peeps who I am lucky enough to call friends.

Three years ago, I certainly felt very alone with my diabetes.

Finding emotional wellbeing has helped me to embrace it.