According to the guy at the coffee shop, I am a cyborg. At least, this is how he greeted me last week when I rolled in wearing togs, a towel, and a whole lot of technology after training.
The gizmos I wear help me to manage my blood glucose levels through swim training. The disc on my arm is a sensor (inserted beneath my skin) that I can scan to show me what my current blood glucose is, which direction it’s heading in, and what the past eight hours looked like. It’s handy because it works in water; I can put the scanner into a waterproof bag and have it next to the pool, which saves me getting out every 15 minutes to dry off my fingers to do a fingerprick blood test. On my tummy is a different sensor, also inserted, that reads continuously and sets off an alarm if my levels are crashing low or skyrocketing, which is especially helpful during the night when I am asleep and unaware of what my glucose is doing. It doesn’t transmit very well in water, however, so I use both.
The cost of continuous and flash glucose monitoring is prohibitive in Australia. The sensors only last a short time – one and two weeks respectively. A CGM costs over $5000 a year to run, and a flash monitor over $2500.
There are calls for our government to subsidise the cost of sensors for people with type 1 diabetes, as these early warning systems can significantly reduce severe nocturnal hypoglycaemia, improve diabetes management, reduce the risk of devastating complications, and improve quality of life by giving people with type 1 and their families peace of mind.
Recently, our government promised to offer subsidised sensors to 4000 people under the age of 21, which is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately it doesn’t help me or the thousands of adults living with type 1 in Australia. If every person with type 1 is properly equipped with the tools we need to manage our condition in the best possible way, we can stay healthy, avoid major hypoglycaemia, and prevent eye, kidney and nerve complications – which will represent vast savings to the health system down the line. I hope our politicians have the foresight to see this, and soon.
In the meantime, being a cyborg ain’t cheap. Least I got a free coffee.
Kilometres last week: 19.5