When James was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six it was very difficult to get him to take his insulin injections. His parents injected in his leg, so that he wouldn’t be able to see the needle pierce his skin.
As he grew older, James developed a phobia of needles. In order to brace himself for an injection, he would have to mentally prepare, counting down from 10 to 1. “It was heartbreaking,” said his mum, Natasha, in an interview from the family home in Essex.
There was even a time when he didn’t want to eat because he knew he would have to inject. He was bullied and teased at school.
Classmates didn’t understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so they would say that eating too much sugar and drinking too many fizzy drinks caused diabetes. These were the kinds of misconceptions he had to deal with regularly.
Learning about the pancreas in science or changing in front of his peers before going to the gym would often be a problem as this would be an opportunity for this bullying to take place.
“I’ve been through a rough time, you could say,” said James, now 16 years old.
Reluctance to switch to a pump
By the age of 12, James started going his own injections despite his anxiety and fear of needles. He refused to consider the idea of switching to a pump: He was already mercilessly taunted at school. He was afraid that being attached to a medical device with a long tube all day, every day would not be right for him.
“James didn’t want a constant reminder of his diabetes,” Natasha, his mum, explained. “He just wanted to be like everyone else. At the end of the day, we all just want to be accepted.”
Switching to the Cellnovo System
When they learned about the Cellnovo Diabetes Management System, James was intrigued by the discreetness of the system and the fact that it could be attached directly onto the body. There was very little tubing, making it very easy to wear.
“My mum had to really persuade me. But it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” James said.
For starters, it has helped change his relationship with food. No longer did he view food as a source of stress and nuisance.
“I can have a big meal and not worry about taking insulin. I can eat what I want, and when I want. I have much more freedom,” he said.
The result? He’s put on more weight and feels much healthier.
Gaining in confidence, being more active in sports
“The Cellnovo System has made me feel more confident,” he said.
That confidence has motivated him to sign up for sports like tennis, badminton, and athletics. He uses the Cellnovo System’s built-in activity tracker to record his activity. And because the Cellnovo System is all-in-one, he can also monitor his blood glucose levels at the same time and adjust his insulin doses to match his activity. For example, when James knows he’ll be out playing sports, he knows he may want to reduce his basal levels beforehand to offset the impact of physical activity on his BG levels.
He also enjoys the discreetness of the system. No longer does he have to worry about finding a public toilet to administer an injection when out with friends. If they’re about to eat out, all he needs to do is instruct his handset controller, which looks just like a smartphone, to administer a bolus with a few taps on the colour touchscreen.
James’ mum, Natasha, has also seen this gradual transformation in her son.
“He’s more confident, happier and certainly more relaxed because he’s in control of his diabetes.”
And it’s not just James who’s benefited from the switch to the Cellnovo System. “I used to hate Christmas,” confides mum. “Christmas was the worst because there’s no routine during the holidays. Breakfasts are eaten late, and you couldn’t expect family and relatives to eat around his schedule and draw attention to him. Diabetes affects the whole family.”
For the first time in a long time, however, Natasha was able to enjoy the Christmas and Easter holidays because she didn’t have to worry about James in the background.
“Diabetes stole part of his childhood. He wasn’t able to be carefree when he was a child,” she said.
“All a mum wants is for their child to be happy. Cellnovo has taken a lot of the anxiety away. There’s a lot to be thankful for.”