Not a typical T1D tale
Before launching into his personal story about living with type 1 diabetes, Vincent Bowles warns that his is not the typical tale.
Refusing to deal with diabetes
Vincent, 23, is candid about his experience as a teenager who refused to deal with his new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, preferring instead to be hospitalised nearly every week during the span of a year for his soaring blood glucose levels.
No amount of warning from doctors or family members could rouse him out of his apathy, Vincent says, and no amount of hospital visits could convince him to start managing his diabetes.
For a year, Vincent’s blood glucose levels were at 16 mmol/L or higher.
“My doctor would say she was amazed I was still alive.”
A turning point
But it was when Vincent developed diabetic ketoacidosis — a dangerous complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces high levels of ketones — that social services had to be called to intervene and he was placed in a secure children’s home where he spent 12 weeks.
“Nobody could control me,” he said from his home in London. “They said, ‘You can’t be trusted to look after yourself. You’re going to die. This is the length we must go to.”
Looking back, Vincent confesses he can’t explain why he was so defiant. He says he doesn’t remember making a conscious decision to be rebellious.
But the time spent at the secure children’s home was what it took to put him on the right path. Vincent reflects that, perhaps, it was at that point that he began to accept his diabetes.
He gained back the weight he had lost from his mismanaged diabetes, and felt healthy for the first time in years.
“I don’t have a definitive answer,” Vincent said. “But maybe I thought, ‘let’s get on with this,’ and I decided I could push on now.”
Taking back control
For the next few years, he tried to take back control of his diabetes. Instead of doing the bare minimum with just basal injections, he followed his doctor’s orders and administered five injections a day.
In every other aspect of his life, Vincent was making remarkable progress: He moved from Southampton to London a few years ago, and is now a now a middle manager at a housing association where he is employed full time. On evenings and weekends, he has been working towards a degree in business management. He’s also a member of his university’s student union and volunteers at various charities.
The only thing that seemed to be holding Vincent back in life was his diabetes management.
The preceding years had done a lot of damage, making it difficult for him to lower his fasting blood sugar levels below 12 and 13 mmol/L. The profuse, nocturnal sweats that required the changing of sheets in the middle of the night, every night, continued.
A new insulin pump
When he learned about the Cellnovo Diabetes Management System, the concept of a small, discreet, connected device instantly intrigued him.
He had always been resistant to an insulin pump because of the idea of being attached to a tube, so he never considered anything other than multiple daily injections.
“I am an agile person, always up and down all day, always on the move. I cannot have a lengthy tube attached to me. It just wasn’t possible.”
In addition to its very short tube, Vincent says he was drawn to the Cellnovo System’s small size — comparable to a tea bag — and its user-friendly approach to diabetes management.
“On the first day, it was weird,” he admits. “It felt really weird not doing injections. I was astounded and couldn’t stop looking at it.”
The start of this pumping journey with the Cellnovo System
After years of carrying around a small pouch of injection paraphernalia, he found himself essentially hands-free.
No longer did he have to map out the nearest bathroom when out in public for his injections.
The scar tissue on his legs where he injected were starting to disappear and the hair on his calves was starting to grow back.
“My favourite feature about the Cellnovo System is that you just don’t know it’s there. It’s so small that I forget about it,” he said.
“It’s invisible to myself and others. There’s many a day when I actually forget that I have diabetes.”
Aside from helping to stabilise his blood glucose levels, the device has also offered Vincent a sense of normalcy, he said.
“I always felt, subconsciously, when I was taking injections that I was different from everyone else. Now, no one would ever know that I have diabetes.”
“I feel lifted. Life is so easy now.”
Customer service and support
Vincent also had high praise for Cellnovo’s support team.
“The customer service is absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“The service is consistent, so friendly and warm. And on top of that the people are extremely knowledgeable.”
Never has he been put on hold while the representative went to consult a manual, he said. And when he received the same woman at the end of the receiver on his second-ever call to the customer support line, she remembered his name.
“Cellnovo has genuinely changed my life,” he added.
“I never imagined living with diabetes, which I never asked for, or deserve, that I could live like this. It’s given me more time in my life. My days are more straightforward now. I’m excited for the future.”