Diabetes Tech: How To Keep Up, While Keeping Your Hopes Up

WRITTEN BY: Abby Komlenic

We live in an amazing world that’s moving at an ever-faster pace. Science and technology have come leaps and bounds since my diagnosis. Twenty-two years ago, I tested my blood sugar with a GIANT drop of blood and injected far less sophisticated insulins with syringes. Now, there are so many more options. My meter’s also my insulin pump receiver (oh hey, tubeless Omnipod). I test with a tiny drop of blood, and, thanks to Dexcom, I can see my blood glucose trends on my phone. Honestly, despite all the crap we have to deal with, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be Type 1.

There’s a big “but” for me, though, which happens every time some new piece of diabetes news comes across my radar. My diabetes tech is great, but I’m sick and tired of hearing about clinical trials, new technologies, and potential cures that still won’t come to fruition for decades.

In my experience, this is how the “cycle of exciting diabetes news” plays out:

1. Friends/family/media tell me about new things.
2. I read up, delving into scientific papers/sparse diabetes blogs/company websites.
3. I decide whether the news is something in the short term (next couple of years) or further out.
4. I try to keep up with the shorter term and more exciting developments by asking my endocrinologist/CDE for incremental updates for what seems like years.
5. The next “life-changing” piece of news comes along, and I repeated the cycle until I start to become jaded.

Sure, some stuff will make it to actual patients, but I’ve lost my patience with having my hopes jerked around. Managing T1D is already a full-time job. If I let myself get consumed with every trial, product, and promise, I lose even more time to this disease. Give me some Netflix to waste time any day. Armed with my current tech, I’m living an awesome, independent life relatively unhindered by my diabetes.

When it comes to diabetes progress, here’s my hierarchy, ranked from worst to best:

1. Cures. Things that are so far out that they’re next to useless. I never read past a headline.
2. New research about stem cells, etc. This is interesting, but if it’s not being tested on humans, it’s at least 10 years out. Call me then.
3. Clinical trials (human or otherwise). Better, but this is only cool if it’s been replicated and/or my endocrinologist thinks it’s cool. I’ll keep an ear out, but for now, I’m off to other uses of my time.
4. New diabetes tech (artificial pancreas, closed loop systems, etc.). While actual devices exist to be tested, the FDA approval process takes so long that I really can’t be bothered to keep up.
5. Incremental improvements to current tech. This might get me to read an article, but see my above point about the FDA approval process.
6. Actual new tech that has a chance of coming out soon. This is the good stuff. Anything that my endocrinologist/CDE actually hears rumblings about coming to market or has a tentative FDA approval date has my ear.

For me, everything else in diabetes news gets pushed to the side. If I want to keep up my optimism and motivation to keep going with this disease, I just don’t have the time or inclination to keep up with the news cycle. To help make a difference with all the new developments out there, I make gifts to diabetes-related organizations I care about. For the day-to-day, I just work on managing my disease and keeping myself healthy so I can live a full life, whether or not I live to see a cure.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have a positive outlook. How do I keep myself optimistic and jaded at the same time? I get excited about what can affect my life now — product announcements, things that are already on the market, and things I hear from my friends in the diabetes community. I love checking out new apps to analyze my diabetes data, new lancing devices, different glucose tab flavors, and, of course, insulin pumps, insulins, and CGMs. I’ll read this stuff all day. Oh, and I may have contacted Dexcom’s tech support a couple of times to get updates on the Android app before it was released. I am, after all, tenacious when new, wonderful tools are within grasp.

Feel the same? Find other T1Ds on the Beyond Type 1 App and share your thoughts!

Abby Komlenic

Abby is a 20-something living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her 22-year companion, T1D (and happy cat, Buttons!). She loves connecting with folks in the T1D community and raising awareness through her personal experiences.