There aren't many things I would give up my Saturday for. This is my day. In fact, come cricket season I usually relish the days when the husband heads off to a game and I can grab a few hours to myself to batten down the hatches, get some 'me time' and watch a bunch of really girly crap on TV, like 'Road Wars' and 'Police, Camera, Action'. Tomboy alert!
Well this Saturday was InPuT's first 2012 Roadshow which, as someone who is an avid supporter of InPuT, I volunteered to help out at. The brainchild of Lesley Jordan, the roadshows are a way of getting the word out about InPuT, insulin pumps and NHS funding. Areas were chosen by looking at where in the UK insulin pump uptake was at its lowest and Luton (the lowest in the UK) was an obvious choice as our starting point. Having had no way of estimating numbers and no idea how many people would want to come along (or even whether anyone had successfully received a leaflet or seen our media build up), I have it on good authority that the whole InPuT team were suffering synchronised insomnia at 3 am, worrying about an empty room filled with some not-so-impressed medical reps, wondering what they could have been doing instead of this, and a rapidly cooling pot of coffee to cater for 40, being slowly chipped away at by the humble three-strong InPuT team! My concerns began to ease however, when the first arrivals showed up 30 minutes before we even had the coffee at the ready. By mid way through, we had over 20 attendees.
For someone like myself, an extrovert with a penchant for talking about anything diabetes related, chatting to such a wide variety of people was as insightful as it was at times frightening: "My hypos aren't debilitating, but I am too scared to drive any longer". "My son isn't allowed one as his HbA1c is too high." I'm not sure if it is poor education on the part of the professionals wreaking havoc in the Luton hospitals or whether the PCTs just don't want to 'give it up', but within an hour I had spoken to 4 different groups, three of whom had a type 1 diabetic with them who by my count, should already be on a pump. There were conversations with those who would be at a squeeze to fit the criteria (HbA1c consistently over 8.5% or debilitating hypos) and those who have been fitting it for years. There were children, couples, older people and a family with three generations of it (who I immediately fell in love with when the mother described them as "a group of five; 3 diabetics and 2 normals"). I had the chance to demonstrate my own pump, put minds at ease that you can't feel the cannula, that you don't have carry it around in a custom made rucksack and that for a girl, your boobs come very much in handy!
We had superb attendance from the pump companies too, which I feel only served to strengthen the motivation to push for a pump. Although InPuT will clearly never endorse one pump over another, the unique selling points of all the pumps on offer were out in force. Medtronic were there with the low-glucose suspend and integrated CGM capability. Accu-check were there with the Combo pump, a snazzy remote control enabled pump with integrated bolus calculator (no need to rummage through the clothing with this one). Cellnovo (not-yet-available sexy patch/micro pump) were there showing off their 'smart-phone like' technology. Animas came with their waterproof pump (hello to the surfers, swimmers and watersports types) and soon-to-be integrated Dexcom CGM. Advanced Therapeutics (the folks who brighten our drizzly shores with the Dexcom 7+) were also there showing support and I took the opportunity to finally meet the director, someone who had been on the diabetes circuit for decades and is a true time-tested expert in the field.
After three and a half hours of talking away, we had just shy of 40 people come along, of which we estimate 21 people had type 1 diabetes. I would suggest that two thirds of those people at least, should already be funded for a pump. People generally seemed to stay for at least an hour thanks to the wealth of information they could soak up from the reps. The coffee pot most certainly ran dry.
There were a few laughs as two thirds of the InPuT team near on cleared the Medtronic stand of their Mio's (cannulas complete with disposable inserter) after two failed cannulas of our own (what are the odds?!). And thanks to me having avoided caffeine for a week and drinking copious cups in my nervous excitement, I was twitching all the way home (and into the early hours).
All in all the day was a GREAT success and certainly something I am prepared to give up my precious Saturdays for. If those 21 diabetics don't have success (which would surprise me considering InPuT will continue to support them through their applications and offer advice and guidance where we can), the pressure those newly motivated people will put on their diabetes teams will undoubtedly go some distance to changing the attitudes of the professionals and people holding onto all the power.
The power is ours.
Next up, we are coming to you, Chester!
And FYI Anna, find a photo pose which disguises chin-zilla!