Diabetes and food
When you’re diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of five, and every meal from that moment on must be converted or calculated and meticulously timed, your relationship to food becomes drastically different from those who live without the condition.
For nearly 42 years, Sally Read has never known the carefree pleasure of tucking into a plate of pasta Bolognese, for example, without having to make mental calculations about the quantity of carbohydrates or worrying about the potential consequences of miscalculating the amount of insulin necessary to balance it out.
As she was diagnosed at a young age, every meal and morsel of food consumed was regimented. The lengthy list of forbidden or restricted foods turned the act of eating into a nuisance and a chore — an attitude that has stayed with her in in her adult years.
“Personally, food does nothing for me,” Sally said from her home in Plymouth.
“I don’t get excited by it. For me, food was a nuisance rather than something to enjoy.”
A night out at a nice restaurant caused more anxiety than excitement, with a miscalculation on her insulin pump resulting in an evening spent fighting bad headaches and lightheadedness.
Mealtimes are now much easier
Since switching to the Cellnovo System, Sally says mealtimes have become less of a burden, because she uses the food library and bolus calculator.
Using a wireless, touchscreen handset, Sally tells the system what she’ll be eating by tapping on the foods she’s already added to her virtual library.
The foods she selects in the library are used to calculate the amount of insulin she needs and suggests this to Sally. With the simple press of a button on the handset, she can confirm the bolus suggestion which is then delivered automatically via her connected pump.
With her Cellnovo pump, “mealtimes have become much easier,”she said.
Living and working with Type 1
The food library and bolus calculator are one of several features that drew Sally to the device, not only as a person living with Type 1, but also as a Diabetes Specialist Nurse.
She had learned about the system four years ago at a diabetes conference and was instantly intrigued on both a professional and personal level.
Able to wear dresses again
Despite it being a new technology at the time, Sally was keen to give it a chance, drawn to the pump’s size — equal to about a matchbox — the online platform, touchscreen handset and the fact that it was tubeless.
“I liked the simplicity of the Cellnovo System,”
While she anticipated some of the benefits — its discretion and being to wear dresses again — Sally says it’s come in handy in other unexpected ways.
For starters, there’s the airport. Previously, when she was using a bulkier tethered pump, the device would invariably set off the alarm at the metal detector. She remembers one time, when she had clipped it to her bra, having to perform a series of stealthy moves that required her to reach through her shirt and disconnect it in front of fellow travelers.
Often, security personnel would need to take it away for closer inspection.
Since making the switch to Cellnovo, however, Sally has been spared the bothersome airport ritual, most recently during a trip to Portugal, where she sailed through security without beeping.
Though being a DSN and living with the condition has its advantages at work, it can also plant a bias in patients, Sally added.
The discretion of the Cellnovo System allows her to remain anonymous about her condition should she choose, and places her on a level playing field with her colleagues and among her patients.
“Just because I have diabetes doesn’t necessarily make me a better diabetes specialist nurse,” she said. “There are others with more expertise and knowledge than me.”
As someone who works and lives with Type 1 diabetes, Sally is able to identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the Cellnovo System.
One feature on her wish list would be that while the handset stores blood glucose readings that are performed via the integrated meter, users can’t add data manually.
“As a diabetes specialist nurse, I am more critical of insulin systems,” she said.
“But I think this works well and am quite happy recommending it.”