Tag Archives: diabetes devices

What’s the ETA?

ETA… Estimated Time of Arrival. It’s almost an antiquated term in today’s english, often passed by in favor of terms like “When can I expect that?” and “What’s your hard deadline?”.

When it comes to diabetes, we’ve almost been conditioned at this point to stop asking when a cure will happen. Many don’t believe there will ever be a cure, and many more believe, but aren’t holding their breath for it.

In fact, hearing phrases like “We’re so close to a cure” or “It could happen in your lifetime” (to someone of my age), or the previously ubiquitous “Within five years” is one of the easiest ways to identify someone not in the know on such things.

Many organizations have, while championing a cure, backed off of anything that might even possibly be construed as a promise of a cure for diabetes couched within a specific time frame.

I’ll admit that this is good, because it keeps people from becoming overwhelmingly disappointed when a cure doesn’t happen within the window in which we might have expected it. Often, it allows us to say that a cure is not imminent, so let’s work on making diabetes easier to manage in the meantime. I am all for that.

But since I’m a both-sides-of-the-coin type of person, I will also admit that not expecting a “just around the corner” cure for diabetes, sometimes, feels like an excuse to hold off finding a cure for even longer. Sometimes, just to develop more products. Things that will keep us paying through the nose, that will make things easier for People With Diabetes, but will siphon off money for other things that family members of People With Diabetes could really use.

It’s the skeptic in me that asks: How many People With Diabetes can’t afford to send their kids to college due to the fact that their out-of-pocket medical expenses range in the thousands of dollars each year? How many can’t afford to keep up with repairs to their homes? I’ve been one of those people.

I don’t really sit on either side of this question. How could I? I mean, hell yes… I want a cure. I want it yesterday. But in the absence of a cure, I also think that an artificial pancreas system is a remarkable development, and should continue to be funded through to completion. And then improved upon after that.

That’s where I’m going with this post… how do I justify championing improvements in therapy, drugs, and devices, without losing sight of, even a little bit, of the need for a cure? I’m torn when I think about it. I get that little twinge in my gut that has always been a benchmark for me to look at a situation with a fresh set of eyes.

I also have a fresh sense of respect for those who are both working on ways to improve our lives with diabetes, and are still passionate about a cure for this awful disease. I think that’s a tougher tightrope to walk than I’ve been giving people credit for up to now.

My goal from this point forward? Right now, I think it’s to remember that a cure is still incredibly important, and it should be worked on and funded, and should not take a back seat to CGM In The Cloud or Inhalable Insulin or any of the latest developments. It’s important to keep asking: What’s the ETA on my cure? Yet both sides of the equation are important. In many ways, equally important right now.

When we talk about a cure, let’s remember the amazing steps in improving diabetes management that have happened, and are still happening. Likewise, when talking about improvements in diabetes management, let’s not lose sight of the ultimate goal:

The Cure.

#DSMA June Blog Carnival. #Diabetes Devices.

June’s DSMA Blog Carnival prompts us to think about the many devices we use in our daily lives with diabetes, and asks some great questions:

Regardless of which type of diabetes you have – T1 T2 or T3 – you probably use one or more diabetes devices on a daily basis. For this post, when we refer to devices we mean blood glucose meters, insulin pens or pumps, and all other diabetes medications. This month we’re going to revisit the May 15th chat on Diabetes Devices and really think about what we use. We’d like to know:

How do you select the diabetes devices you use? To others looking into new or replacement devices, what would be your best advice to someone shopping around?

This really brings back some memories for me. If I may, let me give some advice by telling you how not to choose devices.

First, let’s talk about meters. After my diagnosis, I just accepted the first meter that was handed to me, and I used it for about ten years. I mean, they wouldn’t give me something that helps determine how I use insulin and the various ramifications of said usage without it being 100 percent accurate and never failing? Right?

Wrong. It’s not that my meter wasn’t good for its time (it was 1991, after all– only 45 seconds to get my BG!), but I didn’t even think of whether there might be an alternate meter I could use. And if the one I had was still working, why would I need a new one? Then came the day that an endocrinologist asked to see my meter, and she laughed at me when she saw it. She said, “You know, meters have really come a long way since the Mesozoic Era”. I had no idea. It simply didn’t occur to me that things could change, and meters could be even better. From then on, I tried to keep an eye on the latest improvements in meters and test strips, so even if I wasn’t changing meters, I would know if there was a major improvement of some kind that should prompt me to upgrade this very important device. Lesson: Stay current… maybe something better, or at least more useful, is out there.

Now, let’s talk about insulin pumps and infusion sets. When I first decided to start pumping insulin instead of injecting it, I had really only seen or read information on one pump product. So when my endocrinologist (who I had just started seeing six months earlier) said I should read about additional manufacturers of insulin pumps, I took her advice but didn’t really change my opinion about what I wanted.

In the end, I chose the pump that I’m using today for a couple of good reasons, and a few bad reasons. Chief among the bad reasons were the fact that I didn’t really consider the other pumps. I had my mind set on one only, and that’s the one I chose. Also, and this is very important: I didn’t ask anything about any other pump, and I didn’t get any demos or trial runs of any other pumps. This is completely not like me, and I want to kick myself every time I think about it. I should have done trial runs of other pumps. I should have listened to the sales pitches from the other reps (because that’s what you get… sales pitches). I should have asked a lot of questions.

I can’t say that I’m unhappy with my choice of pumps. What I have works very well, and it’s amazingly reliable. Those are big metrics for me. So I’m pretty happy I wound up with the pump I’m using. But I really wish I had done a little more due diligence, so I would be absolutely happy and sure of my choice. Lesson: Be an informed patient and consumer. It can only benefit you in the long run.

These are a couple of examples that I can point to in saying: Don’t make my mistakes. Learn about potentially new meters, medications, and yes, insulin pumps if you’re using one or plan to use one in the near future. Ask a lot of questions. A lot. Here’s an idea: Why not reach out via social media to get feedback on something you’re thinking of? Most of you know how responsive the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) can be, and how we’re very good at giving you the unvarnished truth. Finally, if you can, ask to do a trial run of your potentially new device so you can be even more sure you’re making the right decision.

I can’t guarantee that following this advice will help you land the perfect device to help you manage your diabetes better. But I do know this: More information will help you make the best choice you can make. And who wouldn’t be happy with that?

This post is my June entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2013/june-dsma-blog-carnival-3/

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