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World Diabetes Day 2019

November 14th is World Diabetes Day as declared by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization. The date - November 14th each year - is a significant date in the history of the disease, it is the birthday of Frederick Banting. In 1922 Banting, and a group of scientists discovered insulin...the life-giving juice we diabetics require.

I live with this disease literally every second of every day and sometimes forget that most people have the luxury of going about their day without a life-support device attached at the hip and a constant data stream of personal blood sugar data. What has become second nature for me is a foreign concept for many. In the spirit of World Diabetes Day and diabetes awareness month, I'm sharing some thoughts on the topic. 

So, what do the mechanics of managing type 1 diabetes look like today, in 2019, almost 100 years after insulin was discovered?

To answer this question I'm breaking down the components and describing what they are and...aren't. 


What it is:

  • Effective treatment for type 1 diabetes
  • A potent drug
  • Sensitive to high and low temperatures
  • Available via vial or "pen" and recently - inhaled

What it is NOT:

  • A cure for type 1 diabetes
  • Cheap

Insulin Pump

What it is:

  • A device to replace multiple-daily-injections
  • A device with programmable settings and memory capacity
  • Tubeless or tubed
  • A piece of technology with the ability to fail

What it is NOT:

  • An automatic carbohydrate counter
  • Waterproof
  • Cheap

Continuous Glucose Monitor

What it is:

  • A system to eliminate finger pricks for blood sugar readings
  • A three-part system consisting of a site (subcutaneous wire injected once every 10 days), a transmitter placed on top of the site's electrodes, and a receiver which acts as the user interface to the data. 
  • A piece of technology with the ability to fail

What it is NOT:

  • An automatic carbohydrate counter
  • A hands-off monitoring device
  • Cheap

For type 1 diabetics, improved diabetes technology is just a stepping stone towards a cure. Even with these devices onboard we are still faced with hundreds of diabetes-related decisions every day. That buzz in my pocket from the CGM is helpful but also mentally straining and counting every single carbohydrate ever, every single day feels overwhelming at times. The injections are manageable, but it's never just about that instantaneous poke - it's about the skin irritation that can linger weeks after pulling a site out (still have one of those on my stomach) or the wardrobe hassles or the toddlers inquisitively pulling on the tubing. 

And, as with all technology, there is always a chance of failure. Batteries can die, electronics can accidentally get wet, CGM readings can be skewed by blood at the site, insulin delivery can be occluded. Backup plans are a non-negotiable part of living with diabetes.  

I try to limit the negativity diabetes creates because I've learned that life is so much sweeter when you focus on the positive - but it doesn't mean living with the disease is easy. It's tough and, at the moment, a life-long marathon.  



  1. I count all of mine as well. But now I bet I could pass 3 grade math. Take that Mrs. Wilton!!


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