Tag: Type1 diabetes

The iLet (Bionic Pancreas)

Throughout the years, we’ve seen many advances in Diabetes technology. From the Insulin pumps, to the Freestyle Libre and so many other amazing technologies.

The most recent and major development is that of the Bionic Pancreas. This long-anticipated technology is able to completely manage an individual’s diabetes by tracking blood glucose levels, controlling insulin doses, as well as administering glucagon to individual’s when they need it.

 The Bionic Pancreas represents so many great things and has the potential to ease the immense amount of pressure faced by diabetics and carers. It could give users, a sense of, physical, emotional and physiological freedom from the day to day struggles and anxiety diabetes self-management presents.

The Bionic Pancreas is able to mimic a healthy pancreas, allowing for the normal release of liver enzymes as well as cellular metabolism.

The initial model included a few different components; a smart phone, a sensor, and two pumps. The sensor is able to take a snapshot of an individual’s blood glucose readings, sends information to a smartphone device, which then communicates via Bluetooth signals to two pumps (one containing insulin and the other containing glucagon). Insulin and glucagon are administered when the individual is in need of it just like a normal functioning pancreas would.

Bionic Pancreas

Bionic Pancreas

More recently, a single handheld device called the iLet was developed. This device contains both insulin and glucagon and is able to acts in opposition to each other, when food is consumed and in turn when blood glucose levels increase or decrease. This giving the diabetic suffers a more stable blood glucose reading.

Within the iLet there still exists 3 components all combined into one device:

  • Continuous glucose sensor (sends glucose levels wirelessly to the device)
  • Mathematical algorithms which determine and make therapeutic decisions based on a person’s age and weight.
  • The algorithm is able to make suggestions every five minutes, 24 hours a day, giving a total of 288 daily decisions for each person’s insulin and glucagon requirements.
  • Built in pumps to deliver insulin and glucagon (a weeks’ worth of insulin and glucagon)
The iLet

The iLet

As exciting as this new technological innovation is, I feel a level of uncertainty when it comes to handing over complete control to this device. Having to trust in this device is going to be a huge hurdle for me.

After all, the iLet is still only a machine! A very sophisticated machine made up of carefully calculated algorithms but a machine nonetheless. Machines break, machines malfunction, as I have experienced with my insulin pump.  Also, for the past 21 years, I’ve been in charge of all the day to day decision making, when it comes to this condition.

However, as a pump wearer, I must remember I had to face the similar and very daunting task of deciding whether or not I should remain on multiple daily injections (MDI) or take that leap of faith and trust in this new technology.  The thought of using a pump at the time was both thrilling and frightening. Putting part of my diabetes management into the hands of a machine, being attached to a wire and insert, whilst carrying around the insulin pump, completely terrified me. I realised then, how accustomed I was to my MDI, although I had lived with the arduous task of managing MDI, it was as simple as injecting and then putting it away. With the pump, it meant I had to be attached to it constantly.  

Nevertheless, for me, the main focus and one that allowed me to accept the idea of wearing a pump full time, was the possible improvement I might have in my diabetes management. Also, at the time I was expecting my first child and I wanted to have the best control possible. I was given the opportunity to have a trial run. With it on I could see the vast improvement it made in my blood glucose control as a whole. It was then, that I decided to plunge into the deep end and take a chance with wearing the pump full time. Since then, I have never looked back

My control is much tighter than it was on MDl. The thing’s I feared, like having  a wire and inserts attached to me, have all now become intertwined in my life. It has become my new “norm” and although I am connected to it 24/7, it has without a doubt liberated me.

And now, in the absence of a cure, the iLet has given me another glimmer of hope. I am now more open to the idea of being able to free myself even more from the struggles I face with this condition. It isn’t much different to the wearing a pump. Yes, it’s much bigger and more complex but I personally would be willing to trade in my pump for an iLet, if that meant that I would have better BG control, even better HbA1c results, less stress and the pressure to maintain good control and the possible reduction of developing diabetic complications.Then I embrace it fully!

Although I’m very much sold, there are a few things I must take into consideration.

  1. Being connected to the iLet, doesn’t mean that my job of managing my diabetes is over.
  2. I will still have to monitor the device and calibrate it twice a day, as it will be a necessity for me to enter my blood glucose levels before meals.
  3. Inputting information such as meals I plan to consume before I consume them is going to be part of the day to day running of the device.
  4. I anticipate error messages occurring
  5. Changing batteries and inserts.
  6. Insulin and glucagon cartridges will need to be refilled weekly.

We must remember that this device will still very much need our input and it will only be there as an aid. It will give us a much clearer depiction of how our blood glucose levels work in conjunction with different types of foods, exercise and stress at different times. Most importantly, it will give us a reprieve from the constant monitoring we do night and day. The pump has given me a degree of  freedom and I feel that this will be greatly amplified when, god willing, I get the chance to experience using the iLet.

My experience with the pump has allowed me to be more open to this new technology. This sophisticated innovation will undoubtedly be welcomed and I guarantee it will change the lives of so many type 1 diabetics worldwide.

 

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Diabetes Blog Week 2016 – The other half of diabetes

 

I could never have dreamt that living with diabetes would be such a challenging prospect to contend with. Mentally and emotionally, it is one of the most demanding and turbulent things I’ve ever had to deal with. It has stretched me beyond belief and it doesn’t give me the option to just check out. It’s a constant presence in my life and  for as long as I can remember it’s been with me. It’s actually hard to remember what life without it was like.

With all that said, I’ve had to find ways to make living with diabetes one that isn’t so gruelling and tedious. Instead of letting diabetes consume me, I’ve pushed myself to try new things to achieve new goals and to make my life into something more than just diabetes.

Of course I know all too well that it isn’t going anywhere and sometimes it can affect me. However, I’m also aware (as you should be too), that it shouldn’t hinder me from being able to do things I want to do. Even, during negative times, I know that those times eventually will pass. I’ve had to learn different mechanisims to help me deal with these darker times and come back to the light. Mentally i’m stronger because of diabetes and I definitely have my emotions in order. I give everything it’s just time and try not to be too hard on myself, because I know deep down that I do the best that I can.

Superhero

Mechanisims I take to make living with diabetes a little more doable:

Do what I’m supposed to do? –  Do the routine blood testing (write down my levels and keep an eye out for any patterns), take my insulin and just try my very best to keep on top of it all. If I can do this, #You can do this too! As perplexing as it can be, just try your best. Take it one step at a time and I know you can do it.

Reach for the sky – I find myself new goals, something I want to achieve or get better at. It helps to have something to progressively work towards and keep your mind engaged on something other than the daily diabetes grind.

Tiny steps – Take everything diabetes wise, one step at a time. Don’t let it drown you. Slowly work to the best of your ability to make a healthier more in control you.

Release – Find an outlet and let go of all you’re tension. My current outlet is working out. It’s a great stress reliever. I’m keeping fit and health and hopefully it will keep me looking good lol 🙂

Family – I’ve always been fortunate to have the support of my family and this has been one of the major reasons for me being able to deal with some of those negative times. I know that some of us may not have that support which leads me to my next point.

Buddy – Your online, that’s great! Now start to make connections with other just like me and you. Whenever I meet another diabetic, I automatically have a strong connection with them. They can relate to the whole diabetes aspect of my life, which speaks volumes.

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Although this post was meant to be about how diabetes affects me mentally and emotionally. I wanted to get the perspective of my loved ones and how they think diabetes has affect me and them throughout the years.

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The Mother

What can I say about your mental and emotional disposition?

Exceptional. From the time I started to know you, that was when I gave birth to you, I felt that you were special. All mothers feel that about their children but as the months and years passed I realised that you had an extra-ordinary level of calmness and internal contentment.

Over the years, those attributes have grown more and more. You do not seem to complain like the rest of us but you may sigh and say something to the effect.” Oh! Man,” and the matter seems to be then closed.You have a level of tolerance which is outstanding, yet you are direct and can tell someone exactly what they need to do or to try in order to alleviate a particular problem.

I always feel that you have your life in balance. You constantly analyse your situation, research and make others aware; improving our life styles and understanding of not only diabetes but many social issues. I feel that you are well grounded; you have your aims and objectives planned out-even if you may not be successful you always move on. A great strength mentally and emotionally.

So, you are undoubtedly exceptional and an excellent role model to young and old, diabetics and non-diabetics. Your self-control and serenity has allowed me (selfishly) to worry less and live more.Thank you.


The Eldest sister

The strength to endure diabetes is a daily battle that I (a non-diabetic cannot begin to imagine or appreciate. It is not only a physical battle to maintain a healthy body but also an emotional struggle to want to continuously push yourself to do what you have to do in order to survive without complications.

My sister has had diabetes for 21 years and as I write down that number, the image of her laying on the living room chair so ill she can barely move but having to move because she needs the toilet, is so fresh in my mind that I cannot believe time has passed so quickly. In saying that the years are filled with lessons not only for my sister but for me also. It has given me the chance to learn not to feel so helpless and to be able to learn about this lifelong condition in a way that brings value to my sister. 

Our mother set a strong foundation for life with diabetes because a challenge that my sister faced on one day was never an obstacle for the next. I think this positive attitude helped me to see that life with diabetes was filled with as much opportunity as a life without. My sister and I would train for tennis together and she would go harder than I most of the time.

I don’t think my sister ever wanted to be defined by diabetes and because we always lived an adventurous life that continued after her diabetes diagnosis. 

Thinking about it now though, that push to maintain good BG’s must have been arduous,  must have challenged her daily, must have taken every ounce of strength but she continued and still does because of her determination to have a positive diabetes life. Regardless of life’s challenges, diabetes has given her the experience to handle the difficult situations that she may encounter.


The Husband

Before I met Amina, I only knew about diabetes as a condition other ‘people’ get when they are older or overweight. I never associated it with someone in my own age group or of good health.

Experiencing life married to someone with diabetes has not only taught me about the condition, but having an emotional connection to someone with the condition has opened my eyes to what’s really important in life. 

I reflected on, my own relatives and my personal health and saw that diabetes was already a part of my life. People I had known my whole life, aunties, uncles, my own mother all have this condition and the implications it has on their health affects the lives of all of my family. Also, had I not met someone with diabetes, my lifestyle choices would have inevitably led me to develop type 2 diabetes. I personally take more care of myself in order to take care of my wife. Although we can’t know what will happen in the future, I have at least taken steps to live a healthier life.

Living with a diabetic has also taught me a great many things. Amina’s mind-set is tremendously positive and her outlook on life has shown me the heights the human psyche can reach, and inspired me to become more positive and mature about life’s ‘thousand natural shocks’. Her ability to share her experiences has influenced those around her including myself, our children, her relatives and mine, as well as her blog followers. It has also taught me patience in dealing with people, when her hypos inhibit her abilities I have had to search deep inside myself to be supportive in ways that best serve her needs. 

The adversity faced by diabetics should not only be encouraging but the strength of the human spirit that is embodied by their struggle to overcome is truly inspirational to those around them.


The little sister

Unlike my older siblings and parents, I have no memories of Amina’s diagnosis with diabetes. I can’t remember – like my mother often says – how skinny she was or any of the other symptoms she presented. I was only about one at the time. So growing up there was no adjustment to a new lifestyle or shock at seeing her take injections or measure her blood sugars. She was never made to administer her insulin in a different room like it was some sort of secret, so it wasn’t something out the ordinary to me. I now appreciate how important that was; it was and is (literally) part of her survival and isolation could have affected her attitude towards her diabetic state (by the way she’s always had it under excellent control.)

Having had the opportunity to learn more about diabetes through my education, and considering the complications associated with a lack of control, I have developed a real sense of respect for how she has managed her diabetes through the years. From my point of view it never seemed like an overwhelming problem for her. Yes, it remains something she deals with daily. But she’s always on top of it. I’m always impressed by the fact that diabetes doesn’t rule her life, rather it is an aspect of her life that has shaped her in ways but never defined her.


The baby Brother

Being the youngest member of our family, I have always aspired to be like my elder siblings as they have all lived successful lives and I have never once thought that there is any difference between them.

I have only ever known my big sister to have diabetes and from a young age I could never really understand what it was, but with age I have a greater understanding; but even still I am always asking questions. Over the years, I have seen the slow effects it can have but with strong will and dedication, not allowing it take control, it can be managed. Personally I can see how many people could lose the will to constantly check what state their body is in at certain times of the day, however to those in the diabetic community, I believe you shouldn’t see yourself as any different from other people.

The reason I have this view, that diabetics shouldn’t see themselves as any different from other individuals is based on my sister. My sister, when possible, never acted as if she had an illness. She was and still is very proactive but what I believe to be key is she knows her limitations. And by knowing ones limitations you can build your life and wellbeing around them slowly overcoming them.

I know you’re probably thinking it’s easier said than done, especially since I have never been in that position. However, it can be done and Amina is an example of this.

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To my loved ones, thank you for all the love and support you’ve given me throughout the years. I love you all dearly. Amina xxx