Sleeping though the night - blog for world diabetes day 2021

Sleeping though the night - blog for world diabetes day 2021

I am sleeping through the night again, for the first time in 9 years.

I went from baby 1, to baby 2, to caring for a child with type 1 diabetes. Last year, on #worlddiabetesday, I wrote about how Relentless this is. Sharing this personal story has brought me understanding, support and new connections. But did you realise the impact? Did you realise that up until July, I had not had an undisturbed night sleep in years?

At the end of June, my son received the Minimed 780g. A fortunate set of circumstances led to this, as this new model had just become available on the NHS in our area and he had reached the end of his 4-year stretch on his previous insulin pump. This new pump is amazing: it adjusts the insulin delivery and corrects glucose levels every 5 minutes. No matter how hard we worked, we never had the control over my son’s diabetes that this technology is providing.

Some data:

  • In 2016, my son got diagnosed and started on pen injections of insulin. This meant a minimum of 7 finger pricks per day, and 7 pen injections per day. In total he had 5,124 needles stuck into his body each year.
  • In 2018, he got changed over to an insulin pump with sensor (Constant Glucose Monitoring). This meant 7 finger pricks per day, a cannula change every other day, and a sensor change every 6 days. In total he had 2,801 needles stuck into his body each year.
  • In June my son received an insulin pump with sensor (CGM) and algorithm, meaning that he is down to 3 finger pricks per day, a cannula change every other day, and a sensor change once a week totalling in 1,330 needles stuck into his body each year.
  • When the Guardian™ 4 sensor becomes available, he will no longer need finger pricks, reducing the needles stuck into his body each year to 235.

Since the new pump, my son’s blood glucose graph look like rolling hills rather than the Himalayas. His HbA1c average is down to 51 mmol/mol, which means that his chances of complications later in life are low. A worldwide study from 2014 showed that only around 30% of people with type 1 diabetes reaches the aim of 53 mmol/mol, and my son’s HbA1c average in 2020 was 64. Alongside this, his moods have stabilised and his school learning has improved. His fingertips no longer look like they encountered a cactus.

And I am sleeping through the night.

No longer do I have to get up, because my son is wearing an insulin pump with sensor and algorithm that acts as a pancreas for him.

Our quality of life has been improved hugely, and we are grateful for receiving the new pump. But did you know that this technology is only available for a small number of people with type 1 diabetes?

The other day there was a big news item in a the Dutch media, quoting new research that people with type 1 diabetes live 13 year shorter on average. Dr Henk-Jan Aanstoot, medical director Diabeter wrote a great article proving context and explaining these numbers. His team sees the unprecedented results that the new hybrid systems (like my son’s) bring, and urges the Dutch government to make this technology widely available on the health insurance. We all hope that insulin pumps with CGM and an algorithm become widely available for people with type 1 diabetes.

We all deserve to sleep through the night.