Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of the whole We Are Not Waiting movement. You know, a bunch of people who are hacking their diabetes devices in order to enhance their functionality. Such as transmitting blood glucose data to other devices, turning a FreeStyle Libre into a CGM with alarms and even closing the loop between an insulin pump and a CGM.
You need look no further than the name of this movement to find the reason for it. People with diabetes really are at the mercy of device companies, regulatory bodies or, in the case of the snippet I read in yesterday’s paper, researchers who are currently attempting to regenerate organs in sheep!
I don’t see a cure on the horizon in the next ten, twenty or even thirty years. The business of business is business. Advancements no longer feel like a solution, but rather a pathway to the next enhancement or product. Both consumers and device companies seem too focused on feeding this diabetes technology frenzy.
The most realistic advancement that I do see on the horizon is a commercial closed loop system. That is, an insulin pump that communicates with a Continuous Glucose Monitor to automatically regulate blood glucose levels. There are a few systems currently in development in the US. Yet I don’t realistically see any of these getting into my hands here in Australia in the next five, dare I say ten, years.
I need look no further than the current insulin pump situation here in Australia. If online communities are anything to go by, Aussies are crying out for a new insulin pump option to hit the market here. There are insulin pumps listed on the TGA website that can be legally sold here in Australia, and yet we are left waiting at the mercy of distributors, device companies, marketers, financial strategists, and all of the other powers that be.
I have been reading up on the likes of hacking a FreeStyle Libre system and closing the loop over the past couple of months. There is a growing community of people here in Australia who are buidling and running homemade closed loop systems, and you can lurk or join them here.
I, however, have made the regrettable decision that I will have to wait.
For starters, I would have to commit to full time Continuous Glucose Monitoring. This is not currently subsidised for adults like me here in Australia. Nor is this, as well as the other hardware required, in my current budget while I am working toward other financial and career goals. Secondly, I don’t own a pump that is loop-able, and I don’t like my chances of being able to get my hands on one.
Finally, I’m not sure that I would be able to give any ‘we are not waiting’ efforts the due focus that they would inevitably require at the moment, with a lot of other priorities on my mind for the year ahead. As one Facebook group admin puts it, don’t bother asking for the idiots guide as these solutions aren’t for the faint headed!
I am frustrated. Not because I’m envious of others who do have the means to do so. Not because I can’t manage. Not because I don’t have good health, excellent access, good people around me or a good quality of life.
I am frustrated, because people with diabetes deserve so much better than what they’re currently getting.