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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It's Raining Pumps

Earlier this year Diabetes Queensland asked me to write a few sentences on how having access to my insulin pump had contributed to my ability to live well with diabetes and how it had positively impacted on my life. It was for a study that Diabetes Australia were hoping to present to the government to improve access to and funding of new technologies in Type 1 Diabetes.

I think at the time I was moving, and I wrote something real quick just to show my support for the initiative.

Today DA met with and presented the report to Federal & State Governments and PHI companies, asking them to open up support to more people with Type 1 Diabetes, and to increase access to insulin pumps, continuous glucose meters, and other emerging technologies.

Currently only 12% of people with Type 1 Diabetes are able to utilize insulin pump therapy. 12%!!!! When I think of how much of my life using an insulin pump has given back to me, it blows my mind. One more time for good measure - 12%. Its no wonder I can easily convince random strangers that my insulin pump is actually a police tracking device or that I'm obviously a doctor with a pager. With less than 15,000 of us running around in Australia with pumps on, people have no clue.

Currently, for anyone over the age of 18 years, there is no available help for initial purchase of the insulin pump - people never quite believe me when I tell them the little beeping, vibrating device on my hip costs more than my car! Thankfully, I had Private Health Insurance which covered the cost of my pump for me. However had I not been financially secure enough to afford PHI, which in itself can be quite costly, the insulin pump would have been a pipe dream for me. The current Government funded Insulin Pump Program has helped pay for a mere 611 children (as adults are excluded, something I believe was addressed today) to buy insulin pumps since its creation in 2008.

I feel incredibly lucky to have my insulin pump when so many people in Australia still go without. And as much as I have just said I feel lucky, by the same token saying I feel 'lucky' that I can afford my PHI or the pump consumables is not something I should feel. The pump gives me the freedom to fully live my life as I want to. Why should that be lucky or rare just because I have Type 1 Diabetes? Your regular Joe Blow walking down the street can do what he wants, when he wants. Why is it 'lucky' for me to be able to do that? Every Type 1 Diabetic should be able to enjoy the freedom of life a pump can give.

After being diagnosed with T1D more than 2 years ago, and going onto injections, I felt like my life had stopped. I didn't see a future anymore. When I woke up and thought about my future, it was a blur of needles several times a day and eating at regimented times to avoid hypos and hyper. My life was about pre-planning exercise the night before and taking less insulin at that night-time dose to account for exercise the following day. And if the exercise didn't happen for some various reason, my day was about constantly fighting high blood sugars.

The pump doesn't just give me a good A1c (now in the non-diabetic range with help from my CGMS which DA also presented for today), and it doesn't just give me less needles (and therefore I am able to deal with my diabetes better psychologically) and it doesn't just help to cut back on hypoglycaemic events. The day I got my insulin pump, I got my future back. I could exercise, eat, sleep, when I wanted. Like anyone else could. All of a sudden, I had a lot more time in my day to dream about silly little things like my upcoming wedding (which I would hate to attempt on injections), having children, living to 80.

I have my fingers and toes crossed that the Australian government will offer its support to all people with Type 1 Diabetes  in Australia and help them access these life-altering and life-SAVING technologies.

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