Some very positive news and a cool new technology to manage diabetes and obesity
By Kelly Close
A few days ago, I received the most amazing news. As you may recall from Jim Hirsch’s extraordinary logbook in diaTribe #45, Jay Ward is a prisoner at Leavenworth’s medium-security penitentiary who has been receiving dangerously substandard care for his type 1 diabetes. Jay was receiving NPH and regular insulin hours after his meals instead of the recommended 15-30 minutes before meals, causing his glucose levels to spike to 300 or 400 mg/dl and putting him at a significantly increased risk for diabetes complications. But now, thanks to the inspiring, tireless advocacy of Jay’s father, of diaTribe contributor Jim Hirsch, and all of you who so wonderfully declared your support by signing our petition, Jay is now receiving a combination of Lantus and rapid-acting insulin. This is unquestionably a huge step forward, especially because he is now getting these newer insulins before lunch and dinner. While his care still isn’t perfect – Jay still gets his morning insulin shot after breakfast and Leavenworth doctors are still refusing to treat the hepatitis C he previously contracted during his incarceration – it’s moments like these that give me hope that, if we work together, we can help those who need it most. Thank you, again.
Indeed, Jay’s story is a dramatic illustration of a more basic point: in the daily management of diabetes, we all face challenges and roadblocks. Encouragingly, technology is making our efforts easier, in both obvious and less noticeable ways. For instance, look no further than this month’s diaTribe dialogue with Jeff Hyman, founder and CEO of the data-driven weight loss start-up Retrofit. I first met with Jeff months back to discuss his plans to use his tech background to improve his clients’ wellness, and I continue to be impressed by his energy and his insight. Retrofit is all about aggressively helping people lose weight – either 10% or 15% over the course of a year. Retrofit provides a team of experts – a dietitian, an exercise physiologist, and a behavior coach – whose job (via personalized live appointments on Skype) is to keep people on that path to weight loss and, ultimately, to weight management. As Jeff told us, the secret to success is his team just won’t allow Retrofit users to quit.
Speaking of technology, some big news this month for people with type 1 and type 2 on insulin (albeit those with good insurance) is the launch of Tandem’s new touchscreen insulin pump, the t:slim. This has been years in the making and represents major new progress in the convergence between medical devices and consumer electronics: the first insulin pump with a touchscreen. Indeed, competition drives innovation and we anticipate more requests from patients for this technology on other pump models. See Adam Brown’s test drive for our take on what makes the new pump’s features different from others on the market.
Still, for all the amazing resources available and all the loved ones and experts there to offer their help, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the personal responsibilities and burdens of your own daily diabetes care. That can mean either going overboard in your self-management or letting things slide and forgetting critical parts of your care. Diabetes educator Gary Scheiner devotes his latest thinking like a pancreas column to how best to work through and ultimately avoid these issues. Anyone who has ever struggled with how best to manage their insulin will benefit immensely from Gary’s common-sense tips. We know diabetes requires optimum resources to help ease the stress – and that’s why we’re always working to make diaTribe one of the best resources available.