From Abby: Medtronic DAF.
Last week, Abby was in California for the Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum, visiting Medtronic for the first time and meeting so many members of the DOC, in person, for the first time. Here's Part One of how things shook out, from her perspective.
This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2nd annual Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum, representing SUM. There were a few key thoughts that I'd like to share about this experience, aside from how completely awesome it was to finally meet a ton of DOC people in real life (more on that later).
I felt hope. Sitting through a lecture about the technology on the horizon gives me so much hope for the future of what our lives will be like with type 1 diabetes. First off, on a technology tip, the Enlight sensor is in reach. The folks at Medtronic wouldn't commit to a time frame, but I got the hopeful feeling it'll be available to patients sooner rather than later. This sensor gives me hope, because it's a step in the right direction. Medtronic has taken our complaints as a patient whole (ex. the sensor is too painful, it's not accurate enough, and it's scary to insert) and they have fixed these problems. THEY FIXED WHAT PATIENTS WANTED FIXED. This is really all I can ask for as a patient, in my opinion.
I also have hope, because sitting at dinner with the director of All Things CGM at Medtronic and seeing the tears in his eyes as he talked about giving parents piece of mind with the mySentry on their nightstand as their child sleeps in a nearby room. I believe that there are people with no personal ties to diabetes, but who truly care about our future.
The attendees of the 2nd Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum
I felt guilt. I feel guilty about so many things. After Dr. Fran Kaufman's presentation that focused on the children in the world who struggle to stay alive with type 1 diabetes, who are thankful for every unit of insulin they are given, I feel so incredibly guilty for suggesting someone owes me a piece of technology that takes every ounce of effort out of this disease. I feel guilty about the opportunities I've been given in my life that have lead me to a stable job with health insurance while there are people in my own city who can't afford anything more than one vial of NPH each month.
I felt so thankful. Looking back on the thirteen years my pancreas has been officially "on strike," I have seen incredible advances in the treatment of this stupid disease. I started on NPH and Regular insulin, I ate three meals and three snacks a day. An A1c of 8.0% or less was the goal. There was a very real chance of kidney failure being my demise. Today, I have a machine that is casually stuck to me that infuses insulin - aka "keeps me alive" - without me paying an ounce of attention to it. I have another patch on my skin that alerts me when my blood sugar is out of the range I want it to be in, without me stabbing my finger every time. At this event at Medtronic, I was lucky enough to see a picture of a single, invasive that housed both an insulin infusion cannula and a sensor wire. I talked to a team of people who are creating the technology for an Artificial Pancreas System. How can I not be thankful for what I have, and what I've seen?
And I felt excited!! I am so excited for the future of diabetes technology. While I feel a potluck of guilt, gratefulness, and hope, a big part of me is just so freaking excited that in the very near future, there is a real chance that there will be a "technology cure" for type 1 diabetes. And heck, I'll take a cure in quotes over no cure at all.
Overall, I had an amazing time. I met people who have my future in their hands (well, sort of) and people who are sharing the same struggles I deal with every day. I carb counted a giant cheeseburger with a group of used-to-be-strangers and compared our dual-wave success for the hours post meal, without stopping to marvel at the fact that we even had the option to dual-wave our insulin.
The future holds some great things for diabetes. But while we are anxious for the next pump or upgraded sensor, we need to be sure that we look back on where diabetes treatment has evolved from, and do what we can to help to those who aren't so lucky.
[Disclosure: Okay, so this is Kerri, chiming in for Abby to cover this disclosure. Abby's travel, lodging, and expenses were paid by Medtronic. She attended this Forum as a representative of Six Until Me, and as a person with diabetes. She did not receive any payment or product from Medtronic. Her views and opinions are her own, and Medtronic did not ask her to write about the meeting. Thus ends the italicized portion of this post. Over and out.]