The buzzword in diabetes care these days seems to be “Insulin Pump”. And there is a lot of frustration in the diabetes community about the lack of availability of them. NOTE: If you have a child with type 1 diabetes age 6 years or younger; you should have access to an insulin pump almost immediately as per the HSE’s “ Model of Care for the Provision of Insulin Pumps for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes in the Under Five Age Group” see here.
So, I thought I would pull together some of the information I have into a post to help people increase their odds of getting any piece of diabetes tech. Plus, dispel some myths around insulin pump therapy and accessibility.
Thank you to Davina Lyon from Diabetes T One for the suggestion for this post.
It might seem like some people have unlimited access to all of this technology but most people with type 1 diabetes in Ireland do not! Mostly people gain access to this tech by being knowledgeable, persistent and not being deterred. Oh, yes, and they also attend a diabetes clinic that offers all of this.
Firstly, The FreeStyle Libre is available to buy in Ireland since November 2016. So there is only one significant block to accessing this technology - affordability. The application process to have this device included on the Long Term Illness Scheme is ongoing and we will keep you informed. This website; http://www.freestylelibre.ie/ is where you can buy the Libre.
Whether it’s an Insulin Pump or a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that you're after, or just curious about, here is my advice to you on finding out more;
- Do your homework!
Find out as much as you can from different manufacturers websites, from reputable diabetes websites and from online support groups. And not just in Ireland-go beyond. Start with this really good website; InPut Diabetes, for finding out the basics about how all these diabetes devices work.
The companies offering insulin pumps in Ireland are; Animas - Rep of Ireland Telephone; 1800 812 715, Email: https://www.animascorp.co.uk/contact Medtronic - Rep of Ireland Telephone; 01 5111499, Email: https://www.medtronic-diabetes.ie/contact-medtronic-diabetes
Other pumps available in Ireland but not included in the HSE tender; Roche (Insulin Pump only… for the moment) Rep of Ireland Telephone; 1800 882351, Website; https://www.accu-chek.co.uk/gb/products/insulinpumps/index.html?product=insight
These devices do not work for some people and may require huge changes in your lifestyle. When I was deciding if I wanted to take the insulin pump leap a friend gave me this book to read; Insulin Pump Therapy Demystified: An Essential Guide for Everyone Pumping Insulin by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer available from Amazon.co.uk
3. Does your diabetes clinic or consultant run an insulin pump programme?
This is really important! There are a number of clinics who do not have the resources to run insulin pump programmes, which means they cannot offer you what they don’t have. They also might be embarrassed about not being able to offer this programme to you and may suggest that you are not a suitable candidate. This really tests your commitment because you might have to change clinics and consultants to pursue it.
4.Now, you can talk to your Diabetes team about your idea.
Have your research ready to present and be ready to state exactly what you think this piece of technology will do for your diabetes management and be as specific as you can.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS This is, actually, the most straight forward bit of the complete process. Really it is! All the hard graft has been done.
Once your diabetes team agrees to submit an application for the HSE funding for your diabetes technology I would suggest that you ask that they include you in all correspondence. This might require a couple of phone calls to your clinic to request copies of letters/replies to/from the HSE.
The next step is either funding approved or denied. If you are approved then you will need to coordinate with your diabetes team to schedule your training. Again, this might require a number of phone calls and navigating the availability of the specialist trainer which in some clinics can be very frustrating. See Davina’s blog post re; 3 rescheduled pump start dates;
HOW I GOT MY INSULIN PUMP AND CGM
I have written about my journey to an insulin pump and how I got my CGM on my personal blog page; Blood Sugar Trampoline. There is a bit more detail there, plus, I wrote it when it was all fresh in my mind. Here are some of the basics. And you can read Davina's experience above, along with other members of the Irish Diabetes online Commuity here.
I began my journey to my Insulin Pump in 2008. I had decided that maybe I should investigate what it was and how it worked. I turned to the internet and the dozens of online communities in the English speaking world for more information, I met some sales reps at diabetes conferences and acquired more reading material and I read a book specifically on insulin pumping. The more I read the more my decision was made.
The first bump in my journey was discovering that my consultant didn’t have the funding to offer an Insulin Pump programme and therefore couldn't offer me one. At this point, I was part of a type 1 diabetes support group that met often in Ennis, Co. Clare and had found out from another member of the group about a consultant who did offer insulin pumps.
I had a good relationship with my Endo and asked if she would be ok with me transferring to another consultant and she wrote me a referral. She was AWESOME!!! I’m still sad that she moved.
Between a letter of reference being mislaid, a waiting list being very long and lots of phone calls from me following up with everyone concerned I finally got connected to my pump on June 3rd 2010.
Knowledge, determination and persistence - all with lots of politeness, paid off. It continued to pay off when my insulin pump was due for an upgrade and the availability of a CGM became a possibility. I got this in November 2015. I wrote about the process I went there for that here.
I hope that this post has cleared up some misunderstanding around the whole topic of accessing diabetes technology and maybe helped you in your quest.
Here are some of the funding options available to you for accessing a CGM.
We are always looking for stories from the Irish Diabetes community to share and if you would like to share your story with Thriveabetes, email me, Gráinne at Grainne@Thriveabetes.ie