Champagne Bubbles

I stirred in my sleep.

A glance at the alarm clock behind my bed indicated that it was almost 3am.

I stuck my arm out from under the covers, fumbling around on the bedside table for my Libre reader.

A quick scan of my arm registered 8.6.

I knew what was wrong.

I gave a generous correction of 2 units, but I knew it wasn’t enough. I contemplated a temp basal rate, but I knew that I would only be putting band aids on the real problem.

Besides, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to lie still while knowing what I needed to do.

I sprang out of bed, switched on the lights and reached for the box of t:slim cartridges from my wardrobe. I made a dash through the hall and the dining room, making a beeline for the bar fridge where cold insulin was sitting.

I had swapped out my insulin cartridge just after dinner several hours earlier. I knew I hadn’t chosen the best timing before bed, but at the same time I prefer to run my insulin down to the wire if I can.

I knew I had drawn a lot of those fizzy little champagne bubbles into my syringe as I was drawing the air out of my empty t:slim cartridge. Part of me suspected that I hadn’t successfully drawn all of the air out of my t:slim cartridge amid those champagne bubbles.

I’ve had my fair share of moments like these in the four months since I’ve been using the t:slim. As much as I love this pump, it’s beauty, it’s wearability and it’s positive impact on minimising my device fatigue, I absolutely hate that I can’t see what’s going on inside those insulin cartridges. Which means that I’ve had to learn to rely on intuition.

I’ve come to assume that when I haven’t properly drawn all of the air out of my cartridge prior to filling it with insulin (a.k.a. champagne bubbles), the delivery of insulin from the pump is compromised. My blood sugars feel sluggish and harder to manage, even if I can’t see any visible signs of air bubbles in my pump line.

I’m slowly but surely working on my technique. Making sure my insulin is as room temperature. Pushing insulin from my penfill cartridge into my syringe using a pencil, rather than pulling. Holding my cartridge upright. Being really gentle with my syringe when I’m drawing from it.

Who knew diabetes was such a fine art?

My Wish For the Diabetes Community In 2019

Let’s have more collaboration and less disconnect. Organisations, healthcare professionals, researchers, pharmaceuticals, industry, people with diabetes and people connected to diabetes. We are all doing amazing things. We all want the same thing, too! Imagine how much more we could achieve if we put our minds together and joined forces?

Let’s respect each other’s differences in the way that we choose to manage our diabetes. Two people will never be exactly the same, so why do we expect two people with diabetes to be? I don’t subscribe to the notion that one size fits all when it comes to managing diabetes. Whether that be pens, pumps, meters, sensors, needles, syringes, Twitter, Facebook, carbs or no carbs, we are all unique and can peacefully co-exist together.

Let’s remember that no one issue is more important than another. Whether that be insulin pricing, insulin for those less fortunate, funding for CGMs, funding for better healthcare services or greater awareness of diabetes. If it’s important to one person, then it’s important. Full stop. But by turning it into an ‘us against them’ scenario, we are marginalising other groups campaigning for equally worthy causes.

While I’m there, let’s put an end to the calls for greater distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Yes, there are two (well actually, many more) types of diabetes. And yes, it’s important to know the differences between the two. But let’s also remember that nobody asks to get diabetes. This need to separate ourselves from people with other types of diabetes only serves to stigmatise people with different kinds of diabetes than us. We’re all in this together, right?

Let’s bring the voices of more people with diabetes to the table. Let’s see more people with diabetes talking to those in the industry. Let’s see organisations who are representing us, engaging with us. Let’s involve people with diabetes in all aspects of the research and development process, and not just at the launch phase. After all, how can people with diabetes not have a place in discussions that are about us?

Let’s celebrate the small victories (I’m the first to admit to being a glass half empty kind of guy…). Many of us don’t appreciate, for example, the research and development that goes into a product, or the advocacy that goes into securing funding from the government. Good things take time.

Let’s never give up on striving for more. Whether that be talking to your local Member of Parliament to advocate for better outcomes for people with diabetes, or challenging yourself to reach new goals in your own diabetes management. Energy spent complaining (and I’m the first to admit to being a serial whinger) is energy that we could be putting towards something productive.

Let’s never lose sight of why we all joined the diabetes community in the first place. To connect with other people just like us. To raise each other up on the tough days. To bask with us in the glory of our small victories. To know that we are never alone in what we are dealing with. Let’s continue to amplify the peer support that this community does best.