“Do You Ever Get Sick of It?”

“My daughter’s friend has diabetes, and she had to have needles all the time. What a pain that would be! Do you have to do that?”

“Not anymore now that I have the pump,” I replied as I pulled it out of my pocket and began gesturing wildly. “So, the pump does two things. It gives insulin continuously in small increments to keep me steady in the background. Then I enter insulin doses myself to cover the foods that I eat. So yeah, the pump is really convenient when I’m out and about or at work,” I concluded in response to her remark.

“Do you have to do that thing where you prick your finger all the time as well? My daughter’s friend said she had to do it 10 times a day! You would think there would be some kind of technology that could do that for you by now!”

“Yeah. I’m wearing this at the moment” I said, picking up the FreeStyle Libre reader that was sitting on top of my iPhone. “So, I wear this sensor on my arm,” turning sideways and showing it to them. “And then I just swipe the reader over it and it tells me my blood sugar. So that’s a pretty good reading,” I said, holding it up and showing them my unicorn and graph.

“I’ll have to tell her about it.”

“Yeah, it’s really good for figuring out trends and things. But it’s expensive so I don’t wear it all the time. And the numbers do my head in sometimes.”

“Can you have a lot of this stuff?” She asked me, gesturing at the hot cross buns and chocolates on the table.

“Yeah, of course I can. I need insulin for most food that I eat, so that my body is able to convert it into energy. I would look at this,” I said, picking up a marvellous creations wrapper from the plate of Cadbury Favoutites on the table, “and say its about 8 grams of carbs. I know that I need 1 unit of insulin to cover every 8 grams of carbohydrate, so I would give a unit with my pump.”

Do you ever get…sick of it? I know that you would probably be used to it by now…

“I wouldn’t say I get sick of it. Most of it is second nature to me. If anything, it just feels really, really monotonous. Getting up and doing the same thing over and over again every day. Looking at the same items and devices all the time. I get bored of it.”

Implications of the Animas Exit For Australia

In October, Animas signalled their intention to cease the manufacture and sale of their insulin pumps. While this news was initially limited to the US and Canadian markets only, the view was to eventually exit the market globally.

Yesterday, the news we had all been expecting was finally confirmed, with news that Animas had exited the market globally.

So what does this mean for Australia?

In the US, Animas referred their customers to Medtronic for the supply of consumables for in warranty pumps. Medtronic will continue to supply Animas consumables until September 30, 2019, after which consumers will need to make the switch to another brand of pump. Medtronic, Insulet (makers of the Omnipod tubeless pump), and Tandem (makers of the t-slim pump) have all provided options for Animas customers to make the switch prior to September 2019. More details about the US transition can be found here.

Australian distributor AMSL Diabetes has stated this will not be the case down under. AMSL will continue to supply pump consumables, replace in warranty pumps and provide 24/7 customer service, with further announcements to come. If you are thinking about starting on an Animas pump, there is apparently still some limited stock available.

Most importantly, there’s no need to panic. For the time being, nothing will change and in warranty pumps will still be serviced.

However with the manufacture of Animas pumps now ceased worldwide and limited new stock available, one has to wonder just how equipped AMSL will be to replace an in warranty pump at fault.

With a timeframe of September 2019 to cease the supply of consumables (albeit in the US), one would also be thinking that in-warranty customers will eventually need to be serviced by another brand of pump.

Will we be referred to Medtronic? Are AMSL hoping to acquire a new pump to distribute here in Australia? Will the manufacture of Animas consumables continue beyond September 2019 to service Australia? Time will tell.

My feeling is that someone starting on an Animas insulin pump today won’t be able to get a full four year’s use from it.

(And I’m feeling a little excited at the prospect of not having to wait until May 2020 to get that new pump feeling again).

AMSL’s announcement is here, and indicates that there are more developments to come.

Overnight, Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) have announced their intention to exit the insulin pump market globally. This follows an announcement in October last year that it was withdrawing from the US and Canadian markets. JNJ’s decision to close down its operations has been made for commercial reasons.

AMSL Diabetes will continue to provide the same high level of support our customers currently receive and customers will still receive a replacement if their pump develops a fault while under warranty. Warranty and replacement pumps, as well as consumables, will not be affected by this announcement.

Animas has also announced that in select countries it is working with a partner to transfer customers to another pump brand. Each market is being approached differently and in Australia, AMSL Diabetes will continue to work with Animas directly.

AMSL Diabetes have been proud partners of Animas for 15 years since launching the IR1000. We will continue to offer our leading 24/7 Australian-based customer service, technical support, and offer our full range of Dexcom CGM, Lifescan blood glucose meters, HypoPak fast acting glucose and accessory products.

For more information on how this announcement may affect you, please contact AMSL Diabetes on 1300 851 056 or email diabetes@amsl.com.au.

We will have more updates and information on these latest developments soon. Make sure you follow us on our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) to stay updated.

A Close Second

Yesterday afternoon I laced up my white Nike trainers, stashed my FreeStyle Libre and Orange glucose tabs into my pockets and sat my headphones into my ears. I stepped outside into a breezy December afternoon, and started walking in the direction of the park down the road from me.

After a short stroll through the grass and the trees, I checked into my local Pharmacy, picked up the box of heavily subsidised supplies I’d ordered through the NDSS a few days earlier, and went on my merry way.

As I backtracked through the park, with the box on my side supported by my right arm, I couldn’t stop thinking about how attractive it all looked in there. The fresh boxes of supplies, all packaged neatly in a bigger box that was originally home to Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid. (Lemon scented, in case you were wondering…)

The comfort infusion sets with their manual insertion, that have helped to relieve my feelings of anxiety over every site change. The angled nature of those sets, that have helped to relieve the constant bruising and bleeding that the 90 degree ones would cause. The simplicity of their packaging, which minimises waste and makes travelling a hell of a lot easier.

The 2ml cartridges that hold my rapid acting insulin, the precious substance that fuels my existence each and every day. The magical liquid that enables my body to convert carbohydrates into energy every time that I eat. The special fluid that trickles into my body every three minutes to keep my blood glucose level, at a custom rate that’s only possible thanks to an insulin pump. The precious stuff that is only a doctor’s script, 36 dollars and a short walk down the road away.

The test strips that pair with my Accu Chek Guide blood glucose meter, and allow me to check in on my blood sugar level. Its Bluetooth abilities that seamlessly transfer blood glucose results to my smartphone with ease. Its sister smartphone app that allows me to review my stats without the hassle of cables and USB ports. The accompanying Lancing device that isn’t exactly ‘painless,’ but the one I’d want to be using if I absolutely have to be stabbing my fingers 15 times per day.

As I casually carried home this box of dishwashing liquid containing another two months of my life, I realised just how lucky I am to be able to trial and choose the products and devices that best suit my needs. How lucky I am that these expensive supplies are relatively cheap and accessible to me here in Australia.

If I can’t have a working pancreas for Christmas, then this sure does come a close second.

And if you’re thinking about those less fortunate this Christmas, consider a donation to T1 International, Spare a Rose or Insulin for Life

Finding Independence from Continuous Glucose Data

In my latest column over at Diabetes Daily, I’m talking about how I’ve arrived at a place where I don’t feel dependent on continuous glucose data to manage my diabetes.

“The FreeStyle Libre was my first foray into the world of continuous glucose data. After knowing nothing other than pricking my finger up to 15 times per day for six years, it was amazing to be able to check my blood sugar levels so conveniently. The small round sensor that sat on my upper arm provided me with a blood glucose reading, a trend arrow, and an 8-hour history graph each time I swiped my reader over it.

However, the data was addictive. Within the space of a few months, I felt heavily reliant on this device. When the life of my sensor came to an end, I really missed it. I felt lost, and even a little anxious about how I would cope without it. I had lost a great deal of confidence in my diabetes decision making.”

Check out the full column over at Diabetes Daily here.