I’m writing this on the eve of the 2014 Diabetes UK Professional Conference, looking over some of the presentation slots on the agenda, more than a little green with envy as I’m unable to attend.
Whilst there’s no doubt that technology plays a huge part in the lives of most people (being able to order takeaway pizza by tapping a few buttons on my phone is surely the height of this great revolution), I think that we almost take for granted how much it helps so many of us stay alive on a daily basis.
When I was diagnosed in 2001, I was given a pretty chunky but cool looking pen to deliver my two daily shots of mixtard insulin and up until last year, I’d been through a number of increasingly slim-line versions. Whilst a 6mm needle on top of a cartridge may not be the most mind-blowing technological invention, I’m sure there are many of us who are thankful that it now commonplace rather than syringes and vials – I know I certainly am!
I’m probably not on my own in thinking that insulin pumps are a fairly modern invention which give a great deal of us a lot of comfort and security each day. In fact whilst pens were first marketed by Novo Nordisk in 1985, insulin pumps have also been around in one guise or another since about 1981 (and were devised as early as the 1960s).
I’ve joined the Type 1 diabetes: Make the grade campaign and told the government what I think of the new rules for schools. Here’s why.
My daughter, Zoe, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 10-years-old. From that moment life changed very suddenly.
One of the things that helped us was the positive attitude of my daughter’s primary school who were determined to understand diabetes and make sure Zoe got the care she needed.
Unfortunately secondary school hasn’t been so easy. When Zoe chose to go on a pump the school twice declined training from specialists to help them support her, leaving her with very little help through the school day to manage this change.
As scientific and medical research become increasingly important to the health and wealth of the nation, more and more of us are being asked to take part ourselves. This includes active participation in clinical trials of new treatments and health services, as well as more passive support by agreeing to the anonymous use of our healthcare records.
Diabetes UK supports both forms of participation (as you can see here and here), because they are vital for the progress of our own funded research and essential for helping to advance our understanding, prevention and treatment of chronic health conditions like Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
As researchers ask for more from the public, and from people with diabetes in particular, it’s increasingly important that research is communicated in a way that is understandable and appropriate to these audiences. Continue reading
The advantages are obvious: muddy walks; tail wagging; no work or responsibility; being everyone’s best friend. But there are disadvantages too. Anal glands. Kennels. Surgical sterilisation. And in my case, there’s the question of diabetic control.
Don’t get me wrong: as a vet, I know many healthy, tail-wagging canine diabetics. The key seems to be finding owners who are absolutely dedicated to your care – but most owners step up to the challenge admirably. It helps if they have insurance though (£1000 vet-bills per annum might prove a conservative estimate).
Insured or not, it would be impractical and unfair to give dogs insulin pumps or perform multiple glucose tests every day. Diabetic dogs are kept stable through being fed the same daily quantity of carbohydrate and being injected with the same doses of insulin. A precisely weighed-out portion of yummy dog-food for tea? A needle in the scruff from my owner? Woof!
Of course, as a dog, I’d want extra food – last night’s take-out from the neighbour’s bin; cake crumbs from the toddler. Would my owners be susceptible to begging? Perhaps their toddler would, when they weren’t looking? Controlling their pets’ carbohydrate intake proves a bigger challenge to many owners than physically injecting the drug.
A few years before I had diabetes, I went on a walking holiday around the South East coast of Crete. The weather was great. The scenery was beautiful. The food was amazing. The walking was perfect. The company was American. I have nothing against our friends from across The Pond and I always try not to generalise on national characteristics. They were a good cross-section: from as far North as Washington state to as far South as Georgia; they were aged from their twenties to sixties. About all you could say they had in common was they liked walking.
However, I did notice one difference between this group of ramblers and others I have met. They all liked frequent discussion about illness and medication. This characteristic surprised me. Maybe it had nothing to do with our nationalities but just about our upbringing. I grew up in a household where, if we had a family motto, it would “Don’t make a fuss”. And my family have always been pretty fit: my parents who, now, are both in their seventies, include the gym and horse-riding as regular hobbies and take no medication.