If diabetes needed broadband – by Helen May

Although I live in a city and can walk to the centre in less than 15 minutes, until very very recently, my broadband has run at the speed of a tortoise doing its best impression of a snail. The problem was a lack of fibre available on my street. As someone who works in IT and works from home, due to this missing fibre, there have been limitations to what I have been able to do and a need to travel just to run video sessions.

In September 2015, I met a man in my street playing with cables. I was intrigued so asked him what he was up to. He explained he was installing the long awaited fibre which should be available for me and my neighbours by Christmas. This sounded fantastic and I started to think of treating myself to NetFlix for Christmas. Little was I to know at then that it was fantastical.

Christmas 2015 came and went with no sign of fibre. Christmas 2016 came and went with no sign of fibre (apart from some different guys playing with cables in my street). Each month, my phone supplier would call me and ask if I would consider buying more services from them and I would explain “sure, if you provide fast broadband, I’d buy it”. Alas, this was not on offer. Until, …

February 2017, I received my monthly call and we had the usual conversation: “would I consider buying more services?”, “only if you provide fast broadband”, “ok, let me check, …”. I was expecting the usual “sorry, it is not available for you” but, instead, they told me it was now available in my street. Yippee! My 18 months of waiting was over … at least that it is what I thought.

Unfortunately, once my provider started their work, they discovered there was a fault on the line. They took a long time to tell me about this: they started to blame other providers: they told me they had visited but I was not in (when I was); they told me they could not find my current telephone line which they didn’t need but had managed to cut; they connected me but it disconnected an hour after the engineer left; they changed my phone number without telling me; …

Eventually, four and a half months later, I was connected … and it still works. And it’s fast. And they have refunded some of the costs.

What has this got to do with diabetes? It got me thinking about the terrible service I had experienced and what it would be like if delivery of my diabetes treatment was as painful as the delivery of my broadband. What if it had taken 18 months to get an insulin pump and another 4 months to get it working? What if a new consultant couldn’t find my records? What if the nurse wasn’t available for my scheduled appointment? What if my pump stopped working an hour after I left the hospital … and the next appointment was in a week? What if I was prescribed a different insulin without being told?

Thankfully, I have never experienced any of this. There have been a few minor hiccups with my prescription and I slipped through the gaps for going on a DAFNE-type course, but I am still grateful that the service which keeps me alive and is funded by our taxes is better than the service I received from my broadband service.

It also made me realise it’s always useful to have old fashioned simple to use solutions (such as a syringe) on hand as a back up in case newer technology (such as a pump battery) fails or is not available as fast as I want it.


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