By Vicki Gibbs
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost five years ago. Aged 17 and in my final year at sixth form, I was using a mixed insulin to manage my condition. Today, I write this blog post as a 22 year old university graduate, recently employed. Things have got better, but emotionally, living with type 1 diabetes can still be difficult. A smart insulin could help change that.
Over these last five years, I’ve seen many new options to manage my condition – from multiple daily injections to insulin pump therapy and from simple blood glucose meters to smart meters. These transitions and developments have physically made my life with type 1 diabetes easier. An insulin pump has allowed me to make more precise changes in my insulin doses, and the introduction of a smart meter before I went on my year abroad has made calculating these so much easier (because the meter does most of the work for me!)
But diabetes is still the first thing I think about when I wake up – and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. I am seeing the benefits of starting on an insulin pump in terms of day-to-day blood sugars, my HbA1c, and how I feel. Using it is easy. But owning it and integrating it into my everyday life was, and sometimes still is, difficult.
So in comes smart insulin! It’s close to human trials. I’m not very good at the science stuff, but even I can see how wicked-smart it is. It involves taking one injection (or perhaps a pill) to cover your insulin needs for the day. The insulin will circulate your body, and only become active when your blood sugars start to rise. As your blood sugars rise, the insulin will bring your levels back down. Once back down, the insulin will become inactive again. I told you. Wicked-smart!
A smart insulin would lift a huge weight from my day. Knowing that the insulin would activate and deactivate accordingly would bring me peace of mind that I wouldn’t drop too low or go dangerously high. It would mean diabetes could take a backseat in my life – demoted from a recurring role to an extra role (because diabetes has never been, and never will be, the starring role in my life). It would mean eating pizza (or insert other favourite food here) without trying to work out the best way to dose for it so it has a minimal effect on my blood sugars. It would mean no longer having to think about where to stash my pump or where my cannula is placed on me when I want to play with my godson.
My definition of a cure is constantly changing. Sometimes, it’s something that means I can say ‘I don’t have diabetes’, other times it’s something closed-loop that means I don’t have to think about it. My emphasis is on living well with it. And this development would help me live well with it. That’s all I can ask for.