Saturday, 7 October 2017

The deal with Animas (UK)

I have not blogged since January this year.  In all honesty, I hadn't known whether my blogging would continue given that juggling household shift patterns around childcare, an abandoned allotment and a forgotten sewing hobby had all left me feeling as though I simply no longer had the words.  When I did log on to social media the arguments, snarky comments and age-old conversations seemed to be coming up.  It felt as though there was precious little 'new' to even deal with, and the 'old' left me feeling as though I'd already spoken about that and simply didn't want to keep repeating myself with so much else amiss in my world.  The DOC felt to me as though I was no longer a member. 

But then something changed which threw me back into the DOC at full force.

Two days ago, a friend posted on Facebook about Animas in the US and Canada 'closing down and leaving the insulin pump market'.  The article, seemingly from a reputable source and using all the correct language and knowledge of diabetes insulin pump supply, claimed this was happening with almost immediate effect in the US and Canada, and the rest of the world would follow.

What.  The.  Actual.

As a member of the Animas Heroes, and (devoted) Animas customer, I was shocked and so, so saddened to read this, but had also initially missed the bit about the rest of the world.  What do you mean, you are exiting the pump market, with my product?!

I emailed one of the marketing guys at Animas and asked what impact this would have on the UK.  Within an hour, a conference call was scheduled, and the cold facts were dawning on me. 

As I listened on the call to the horrible news, I realised just how much the world will miss Animas. How much I will miss Animas.  For me, they were the leaders in patient engagement, and where other companies only seemed to want to engage with the DOC when they have a product they want advertised, Animas seemed to want more.  They wanted to truly converse with their customers; they wanted to make a difference.

Animas made it clear that as far as the UK goes, it is business as usual; they will be in place for the foreseeable, due to the way in which businesses have to be closed in Europe.  There is no immediate commute over to a competitor, and new customers are still being taken on, but with an honest disclosure about what the future looks like.  While business has been successful in the UK, the picture worldwide has not been so, and in an incredibly competitive market, it simply came to an end.  Which sucks.  It really, really sucks.  The Sports Weekend is, of course, to still go ahead.  And as a J&J weekend as opposed to an Animas one, we hope there will be more.

I was always a little of an odd one out amongst the Heroes.  Some are champions in their sport, some have run unimagineable marathons, and some are insanely Grumpy (in all the best kind of ways).  I was the one who'd struggled with weight and through my journey using sports and exercise to try and tackle those issues, had also discovered deep-rooted issues with food and dieting.  But rather than end my contract there when things got complicated, Animas - and my family in the heroes - carried on just accepting that my daily challenge was just a different kind of challenge to the others. When the end comes, and end it shall, I will leave knowing I was on the team with a group of people, a company, even, who had all their priorities in the right place. 

Any time a treatment option is taken off the table it is a sad day.  But for it to be a company as well-established and market-leading as Animas, is simply devastating.

I will miss those people sorely.

It's sad that words came back to me because something so dear was being taken away.  And yet the last two days the DOC, for me, has been a different place.  It has been a place were people are asking for advice, answers, and support. What a shame that Animas had to be the catalyst for my DOC of old to return.

How do you feel about the news that Animas will eventually close up shop?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Kaleidoscope - what are YOUR priorities?

I've been out of the loop in the last year when it comes to new projects on the diabetes horizon - mainly because there is a socially acceptable level of housework which has to be met in order for your home to be considered habitable; a level which has long been the stuff of legend in our home since the whirlwind arrived.  But last week I had the opportunity to take part in a focus group about a new way or working with Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) when it comes to verbalising what is important to us in managing our diabetes at any given time, whenever we visit the clinic.  That new way of working is called Kaleidoscope.
Kaleidoscope is the brainchild of Chartered Health Psychologist Dr Kath Barnard, who recognises that at any one time there can be a multitude of factors affecting how well we are managing our diabetes on any given day.  Those factors (for example, the level of support we have at home, our access to the appropriate technologies, our knowledge of diabetes, or how burnt our we are), are fluid.  They change constantly and our needs change based on how well each aspect of our lives is working with all the others.  And just like a kaleidoscope, if you stopped your life in the middle of the daily whir, the resulting patterns would look wildly different and complex each andevery time.  But trying to communicate what is most important to us in the 15 minutes we have to meet with our diabetes team can be difficult.  And if, like me, visits sometimes happen when I am in the depths of burnout and barely even registering my diabetes, those clinic visits can sometimes involve a very satisfying - but not overly productive - 15 minute rant about diabetes and the general bastard that it can be.
The idea behind Kaleidoscope is that a short online (mobile friendly) questionnaire (six minutes to complete in my case) can help identify the top 3 priorities for you at that time.  The questions broadly cover a number of key areas such as environmental, physical and psychological factors and how you are feeling about various aspects of your care/management. The end result is your top three priorities listed for your next clinic visit. This gives a voice to those struggling to find their own, or to those who find it difficult to steer a conversation - or even recognise - what is most important to them.
I had the opportunity during the focus group to try the model, and completed it true to what is flipping around my brain about diabetes right now. I imagined that my clinic visit was tomorrow, and that this would be what I aim to cover.
"Great," I thought.  "But I know what my priorities are. I don't think I need to know them before I go in. This is probably more for people who struggle to communicate their own needs.  Mine will obviously all be about burnout."
Oh, the arrogance.
After six short minutes, there they were.  My top three priorities, of which only one related to the psychological aspects of living with diabetes.  It took me a while to work out where the others - knowledge of managing diabetes and another I can't now recall - came into play.  But as I sat and mulled it over, it all made sense.  Since my diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease, my feelings towards managing such frustrating conditions have been all over the show.  I have spent hours Googling Graves' Disease, energy levels and diets for thyroid function, feeling helpless, hopeless and hapless at best.  I have tried diets, pills and supplements which have all played a role in changing various aspects of my usual diabetes management - something which played second fiddle to my (stupid) new condition. The ups and downs of trying to solve one problem have left me feeling clueless about the one I thought I had a handle on.
Kaleidoscope helped me unmash the muddled-up soup of thoughts in my head and replace it with three places to start a conversation; one which may help me refocus my thoughts and efforts on the most important thing - my health.
It turns out that even after 30 years, there is still something you can learn.