Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Technology is Scary: A Skeptic Changes Her Mind

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1986, a few months before my fifth birthday. I have very, very few memories of my life before diabetes. It’s just always BEEN. Diabetes has been a part of me so much, that I’m not entirely sure who’d I’d be without it. I’m throwing a wild guess out there that I’d have more money, less stress and get more sleep, among other things. But, it’s nothing that I can’t deal with.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I was on ONE injection per day of the (now) antiquated NPH insulin. My doctors thought that a 12.3 a1c was “in control” enough to take my tonsils out 8 months after I was diagnosed. Life was different. Diabetes care was different.

Sometime after that (I’m not sure on how long, and my mother is a little foggy on the details) I went to two injections per day of NPH and Regular insulin. I stayed on that regimen, along with a strict eating schedule and fights with my mother when I was (as kids often are) NOT hungry and didn’t want to eat what was on my plate.

When I was in high school was the first time that I really heard of an insulin pump. They were just really starting to get “popular.” I didn’t know much about them. Other than that I did NOT want a needle in me all the time (I’m not sure if that was the case at the time, or if that’s just what I thought because I was uninformed) and I didn’t like the ideas of being attached to something all the time.

For years I resisted an insulin pump. During those years I also dealt with losing insurance, getting it back, losing it again, and getting it back again, so my diabetes care was spotty and I didn’t see and endocrinologist regularly. But I did meet a lady that I went to college with who also had diabetes. We had many classes together because we had the same major and ended up graduating within a semester of each other. She was a “non-traditional” student, meaning that she was older, married, had kids and did not live anywhere near campus.

But despite those differences we became friends. I got along with her better than I did many of my peers because I was also working my way through school (though it was only me I had to worry about) and had a semi more grown up view of life than many of the people my age. I say semi because I was still very much a college student. LOL.  

One thing that this lady had was an insulin pump. I’d never really seen one before. She told me how much she loved her insulin pump. She showed me how hers worked. She was the first person that I ever knew that made me think “I might actually like to have an insulin pump.” That was the first time I didn’t think an insulin pump was scary.

During this time, insurance coverage for me was sketchy, so it would be several more years before I decided to take the plunge and join the world of the insulin pumpers. But I did it, not because I heard about this cool new technology. I did it because I saw someone LIVING with this cool new technology.

Over the past year or so, people have been talking about the bionic pancreas thing. I say “thing” because I don’t totally understand how it works, but I get the basics. When I first heard about it, I thought “That’s a cool idea, but I don’t trust it. I don’t want a machine making all my decisions for me.” But being a part of the Diabetes Online Community has put me in the position to know and to “know” people who are at the front lines of this new technology. There are people who are part of clinical trials. And what I’m hearing back makes me think, “I might actually like this.”

Of course, there are a ton of things that have to happen to make this machine something that I can get. And afford. More testing, more trials, more trials, more testing. And then the FDA. And we all know how long it can be for the FDA to get anything done. By the time they do, there may be some other top notch technology waiting in the wings. I don’t know.

But after reading more and more about people that I “know” and that I know, who have been a part of these trials, I have to thank them. Thanks for being that person that opens my mind to new technology. New technology that I’ll hopefully be able to get at some point. Technology that might have as big of an impact on my life as switching from multiple daily injections to an insulin pump.

If I can’t have a cure, steps forward in technology are nice. Huge steps forward in technology are life changing. And thanks for those who are sharing your experience so people like me (the skepctics) can have a more positive outlook on what's coming (we hope). 


Scott K. Johnson said...

What a wonderful post, Cara. Isn't it incredible how actually talking to someone (or reading their stuff) can help straighten out the misinformation we have? I think it's one of the most magical things about the DOC. We can get real information from real people we really know and trust. :-)

George said...

I learn more about new technologies from the OC than from anywhere else!

BTW this post is from the future which is some next level Scary Technology. ;)

Laddie said...

There are not many people who start using a pump and then want to go back to injections. But you're right that each of us takes a different journey to embrace new diabetes technology.

Great post.