Needle Free Blood Glucose Testing

Post 4 by Lucy Allen

In the recent blog post Truths of Type 1 Diabetes I explored the emotional and social impact living with Type 1 Diabetes and a lack of support can have. Tackling these social issues requires a long-term intervention and strategies to ensure a better support network and management for diabetics.  There are however many exciting and fast-paced innovations in the field of Type 1 Diabetes that make living with the disease a littler easier for people like myself.

A common issue faced by people living with Type 1 Diabetes is the large amount of needles used day to day. Between injections, blood glucose tests and site insertions Diabetics use over 3000 needles a year. There are options these days in regards to injecting insulin in the form of an insulin pump, decreasing 5 – 10 injections a day to just one needle insertion every three days however testing your blood glucose level (BGL) is imperative in the proper management of Type 1 Diabetes and is done so by pricking your finger with a needle to draw blood for reading by a metre multiple times a day.

testing-blood-sugar-levels
Testing your BGL  (G. Matej, 2015)

Just recently Abbott have released the first needle-free BGL monitoring system called The FreeStyle Libre Flash. This system works by inserting a sensor into the upper arm that can be scanned using the monitor to receive not only a BGL but also detecting patterns and trends. This breakthrough technology is the first of it’s kind in offering needle free testing, providing ease of use and making living with Type 1 Diabetes just a little bit easier. Abbot have very effectively engaged with a major issue for those living with Type 1 that is in no way a cure but rather explores a major detriment of the disease and developed the appropriate technology in response. Whilst this technology doesn’t completely obliterate the use of needles as the sensors insertion still requires a needle, it drastically decreases the use of them and enables easier and more user-friendly BGL testing.

abbott libre
The FreeStyle Libre System (Abbott, 2016)

Whilst it’s clear Abbott have very successfully engaged and provided a solution to this issue there are still social barriers the deter people such as myself from using this new system. The system is usable whilst swimming, showering, exercising and in most day to day situations. Despite so many benefits, for me the idea of having another thing attached to me in addition to my insulin pump is a big turn off. With an insulin pump, the site and pump can sit comfortable and discreetly under my clothing however with the Libre it is inserted on the upper arm in clear view. For someone such as myself who lives in the sun and at the beach, the thought of the sensor being so blatantly obvious really deters me as it screams ‘there’s something wrong with me’. For me I would rather keep using needles to prick myself, draw blood and test my BGL to avoid this more intrusive technology.

It’s clear that whilst Abbott have provided an emergent solution to an ongoing issue there are still further areas of engagement that need to tackle the more social aspects surrounding the Libre. This project is however a fantastic example of all the exciting and emergent outcomes that are coming to fruition as technology improves and issues surrounding health and obesity are explored. My hope is that we can continue to develop, test and respond to these innovations in a way that allows people living with Type 1 to feel more ‘normal’ as some might say.

References

Abbott, ‘Free Style Libre’, accessed 20th of August 2016, < http://www.freestylelibre.com.au/&gt;

G, Matej., 2016, ‘What is Normal Blood Sugar Level’, accessed 23rd of August 2016, <http://healthiack.com/health/what-is-normal-blood-sugar-level&gt;

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Truths About Type 1 Diabetes

Post 2 by Lucy Allen

Inspired by the research that led me into the world of Diabetes and what constitutes ‘healthy’, I was driven to probe further into these areas. I came across ‘The National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan’, published in 2013 previous to the Federal Election and written by a number of experts in the field of Health and Diabetes. All authors of the article belong to a credible organisations such as ‘The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute’ or hold a prominent position such as President of the Australian Diabetes Society, making this publication extremely credible. The purpose of this article is to provide the incoming Australian Government with a ‘clear framework for a new national strategy for diabetes and a five year action plan’. Whilst all authors have been published in medical journals previously this is the first article of its kind written by this particular collection of experts.

This factual, evidence-based article outlines the previous actions taken by The Australian Government, both successful and non-successful. I was shocked by the number of failed attempts and false promises made by the Australian Government in relation to Diabetes; our nation has never seen a successful National Diabetes strategy and action plan.

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Statistics on Australia’s past responses in regards to Type 1 Diabetes. (Diabetes Australia, 2013)

 

 

NSW’s lack of progress is put to shame in contrast to Victoria’s ‘Life! Program’ that helps prevent Diabetes, Heart attacks and Stroke. It has seen in it’s time a phenomenal 30% reduction in risk. If Victoria can have such success in implementing such a strategy, why can’t we expand this nationally? It is fantastic to see this article not only outline the issues present but also propose solutions. Five overarching goals are detailed, the most promising of which being to ‘Strengthen prevention, care and cure through knowledge and evidence’, something I believe is at the core of allowing Diabetes and those living with Type 1 Diabetes to be better understood.

There is little biased present in this article with all claims backed by research and statistics from previous and current studies. Opinion is present in statements such as, ‘The seriousness of Diabetes is often underestimated. There is no such thing as “mild” Diabetes’. Statements such as these whilst opinion based are still important, revealing the prejudices and misunderstanding throughout society. This article gives me hope that after all the failed attempts made by the Australian Government that there are still people out there who push for this epidemic and disease to be recognised and understood.

Now comes the really honest part…

Critically analysing articles about a disease I myself live with day in and day out I guess it was inevitable that I’d end up critically analysing my own views and having to be honest with myself. A research paper published by the Stento Diabetes Centre in Denmark sought to ‘explore the functions of peer support from the perspectives of adults with Type 1 Diabetes’. The study was undertaken and recorder by three experts in the field of Diabetes from the institute, resulting in a soundly researched, quantified and revolutionary study. As one of the first studies to explore patient perspectives on the function of peer support for people living with Type 1 Diabetes, it’s the first time I have come across a discussion of many of the issues and experiences talked about in this paper.

The article is extremely factual whilst also referencing the responses of participants, a diverse group of individual all living with Type 1 Diabetes. As I read this article I became more and more aware of just how much of what was being said I could empathise with. Statements made by individuals articulate the many internal struggles people living with disease have, from social exclusion to misunderstanding, all ringing true. A statement made by a participant about having to ‘make your own experiments on how to live well with Diabetes’ was particularly thought provoking. This is something I really do struggle with, the constant and tiring mental dialogue of trying to balance the unbalanceable, trying to do right not wrong and with you, the only listener.

“If there was more recognition in our society, that there is also a lot going on in your head when you get the disease, it would be a lot easier to talk about. I mean the majority of people seem to be of the opinion that as long as you get your injection you’ll be fine…but it’s not quite like that” – Anonymous Participant

This study concludes the importance for Type 1 Diabetics to be able to talk about their chronic disease, not in a medical way but in a social, every-day manner. Diabetes has its own language and to be able to communicate with other Diabetics is a relief and comfort. This article has changed the way I think by enlightening me to the experiences of other Diabetics and reporting on the findings of this important study.

I don’t write this for you to feel sorry for me or to make you feel as if you need to suddenly research all there is to know about Diabetes. I write this because it is now so much more than just a research and blog task. I know this post is very much over the word limit but it is providing me with the drive and passion to know more, to research further, to advocate for change and to get to know myself and my relationship with Diabetes a little better. It’s daunting but I’m jumping in feet first.

 

 

Reference List

Diabetes Australia, 2013, ‘A National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan’, viewed 11th of August 2016, <http://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/e549bdb8-of80-46f8-b827-35cb4f1bcd2.pdf>

Joensen, L., Filges, T., Willaing, I., 2016, ‘Patient Perspectives on Peer Support or Adults with Type 1 Diabetes”: A Need for Diabetic-specific Social Capital’, Health Promotions Research, Stento Diabetes Centre. vol. 10, pp. 1443 – 1451.

Notes On Design., 2015, ‘Too Many Hands’, Pinterest, viewed 10th of August 2016, <https://au.pinterest.com/pin/540502392761523634/>

Zimmer, P., Colaaiuri, S., Gunston, J., Aylen, T., Johnson, G., 2013, ‘A National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan’, Diabetes Australia, pg. 1 – 17.

 

 

The Misconceptions of Health

Post 1 by Lucy Allen

Obesity and Healthy Living. Where on earth do you begin. Much like the topic itself, my collection of articles for this topic started quite broadly but managed to slowly focus in on a particular and quite personal area of interest, Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

I’ve always found the misconceptions of ‘health’ and what constitutes health very interesting.

The article ‘Skinny and 54 Kilograms, but with the Health Hallmarks of Obesity’ is written by Gina Kolata, an author at The NewYork Times. As a graduate molecular biologist from M.I.T as well as having a masters degree in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland, Kolata has won many awards for her work in the medical profession. Having written numerous amounts of times about Obesity, weight, health and wellbeing with most of these published in the NewYork Times Kolata’s article is a reliable and trustworthy source.

This factual article follows the story of Claire Walker Johnson, telling her story and challenging the assumption that skinny people are healthy. Backed up by statistics and commentary from doctors and other professionals on the issue, this article is persuasive and evocative, making us reassess this common misconception. The argument is not particularly marginal yet not commonly known to many people, presenting a new point of view and in doing so challenging societies own views and opinions.

The idea that thin isn’t always healthy is realised tragically in the prevalence of eating disorders in our society. Rania Spooner a Health Reporter at The Age explores this in her article, ‘Orthorexia Nervosa: Do You Have an Unhealthy Obsession with Health?’. The article discusses how obsession with being healthy can often lead to an ‘unhealthy obsession with eating healthy’. The disease sees sufferers restricting their food intake to dangerous levels. They often undertaking strict diets such as paleo, organic and in some cases the FODMAP diet, developed for sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Having written many articles on Health throughout her time as a reporter alongside the research used to back up her claim this article provides and informative and trusted read.

Orthorexia refers to a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful.

This unbiased articles cites the findings and research of many professionals such as Dr Simon Knowles, a researcher at Swinburne University. Knowles blames the ‘fitspo’ and ‘fitsporation’ obsession that has taken over society, highlighting it as a key link in the increase of sufferers of orthorexia. Whilst ‘orthorexia’ isn’t a recoginsed term and diagnosed eating disorder as yet, Spooner writes that is only a matter of time before it is, a position held by many professionals in relation to Orthorexia Nervosa. This is an example of an extremely informative, well researched and concise article that also offers practical advice on symptoms and treatment of the disease.

Another eating disorder that seems to be less recognised is ‘Diabulimia’. The disease sees Diabetics purposely restrict their insulin and bingeing on food. This results in high blood sugar levels and eventual weight loss. Much like Orthorexia this disorder isn’t yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a diagnosis despite effecting many people worldwide. The article ‘Diabulimia Signals Trouble in Type 1 Diabetes’ is written by Lorraine Platka-Bird, a writer for Medscape and qualified dietitian and nutritionist. The issue of ‘Diabulimia’ is approached by Platka-Bird from a non-biased yet emotive position, using the story of an individual to illustrate the damage the disorder can have.

Diabulimia refers to an eating disorder in which people with Type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need, for the purpose of weight loss.

As a regular contributor for Medscape and having studied, taught and published research into nutrition Platka-Bird was granted one of the most prestigious teaching awards offered in the State university system. Her expertise is present throughout the article in the clearly articulated breakdown of how this eating disorder materialises, treatment options and effects it can have both physically and mentally on the sufferer. As a type 1 Diabetic I find this article quite distressing to read, understanding the ways in which these individuals abuse their bodies and health in the name of weight loss. It is encouraging however to come across such a well researched and knowlegable article around the subject of Type 1 Diabetes.

Being a Type 1 Diabetic from the age of nine I’ve grown up with the disease, allowing me to take control from the very beginning and live an independent life. I try not to let Diabetes rule my day to day life and I particularly love chatting to people about it, to educate them in the disease. A common question I get is, ‘So did you get Diabetes because you ate to much sugar?’ or ‘What really? But you’re not fat?’. Common misconceptions around Type 1 Diabetes come down to a lack of understanding between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

Madeline Milzark, a fellow Type 1 Diabetic recently took to Facebook to share what it’s like living with Type 1 Diabetes, revealing many of the realities that come with this. Caroline Parkinson’s BBC article ‘Diabetes is no Laughing Matter, Say Young Sufferers’ is written based on Madeline’s post, calling for a better understanding of Type 1 Diabetes. Whilst not suffering from the disease herself, Parkinson’s article highlights some of the greatest misconceptions and lack of understanding in the difference between Type 1 and Type 2, going into detail differentiating the two diseases and resonating with me deeply. She calls for an end to the trivialisation of the disease, quoting Madeleine in her statement that ‘Diabetes isn’t your piece of cake, or that super-sized McDonald’s meal with extra fries or anything you see coated with sugar’.

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Madeline’s original Facebook post, written to bring awareness to Type 1 Diabetes. (Milzark, 2016)

This article is populated with the opinions of other Type 1 Diabetics on the matter, all supporting Madeline’s post and promoting a better understanding and acceptance. The article is very factual, listing symptoms and facts about the prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes as well as some general information. I feel strongly about the message of this article through Parkinson’s writing as she educates, informs and humanises a disease that is often so misunderstood. It is clear that the key to greater understanding is through better education, “People think you have to be overweight and over 50, but that’s simply not the case. There needs to be more public education”.

Despite my personal desire and that of others to better understand and  further distinguish Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, a recent study done by researchers at the University at Buffalo, New York has actually found that Type 1 Diabetics may benefit from some of the drugs used to treat Type 2 Diabetics. The article ‘Drug Developed for Type 2 Diabetes Helps Control Type 1 Diabetes is written by Ellen Goldbaum, News content manager of Medicine for the University at Buffalo with a BA in political science from Barnard college. The article is based upon findings of a study printed in the Journal of Clinical Endocronology and Metabolism that reports that ‘patients with Type 1 diabetes saw improved blood glucose control with a “triple therapy” that included insulin, Liraglutide and Dapagliflozin’.

Motivated by this new-found evidence, this factual article delves into the process and finding of this study, even highlighting problematic areas such as the development of ketoacidosis in two test subjects. Despite some negative reactions, Goldbaum states that this response sheds potential light on future treatment of ketoacidocis. It is clear that the author views this quite marginal finding as a positive discovery, despite the negative experience of some test subjects. Whilst I agree that the potential impact using these treatments could have on Type 1 Diabetics I believe more research needs to be undertaken to convince me fully of it’s longevity.

As my journey into health became more personal I am increasingly motivated to know more. I’d like to explore the assumptions surrounding Type 1 and 2 Diabetes and what it means to be ‘healthy’ further. With new findings and researching being published almost daily I see great potential in persuing these points of interest.

P.s Just in case you were wondering, eating too much sugar as a kid didn’t give me Type 1 Diabetes…nobody knows what did #spooky

 

 

Reference List

Goldbaum, E., 2016, ‘Drug Developed for Type 2 Diabetes Helps Control Type 1 Diabetes’, The University at Buffalo: The State University of New York. <http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/stories/2016/08/dandona-diabetes-drugs.html>

Kolata, G., 2016, ‘Skinny and 54 Kilograms, but with the Health Hallmarks of Obesity’, The New York Times, <http://smh.com.au/national/health/skinny-and-54-kilograms-but-with-the-health-hallmarks-of-obesity-20160726-gqefpg.html>

Morales, M., 2016, ‘Ice-blocks In Space’, Pinterest, viewed 10th of August 2016, <https://au.pinterest.com/pin/540502392762959372/>

Milzard, M., 2016, ‘Facebook Post’, Facebook, viewed 16th of August 2016, <https://www.facebook.com/madeline.milzark/posts/1279186718759710>

Parkinson, C., 2016, ‘Diabetes is no Laughing Matter, Say Young Sufferers’, BBC News, <http://www.bbc.com/news/health-36924362>

Platka-Bird, L., 2016, ‘Diabulimia Signals Trouble in Type 1 Diabetes’, Medscape, <www.medscape.com/viewarticle/857221_print>

Spooner, R., 2016, ‘Orthorexia Nervosa: Do You Have an Un-health Obsession With Food?’, The Sydney Morning Herald, <http://www.smh.com.au/action/printArticle?id=1011628438>