As of 1 July 2022, the lives of countless diabetics Australia-wide are about to change dramatically. The government has finally signed off on the subsidisation of the Continual Glucose Monitor (CGM) for anyone living with this chronic illness. Previously, subsidisation of CGMs were only eligible for people younger than 21, in possession of a concession or seniors’ card, or trying to fall pregnant. Otherwise, CGMs could cost the average Australian up to $10, 000 annually. Many, of course, have not been able to afford this potentially life-saving technology, until now, where it will cost $31 a month for the device from 1 July.
The push to see this device subsidised has spanned decades. It is a decision that will save the healthcare system exponentially in the long run. As the CGM gives its users the ability to control their blood glucose levels with Blood glucose monitors more closely than perhaps they were ever able to before. The German technology that allows the device to alert the phone it is connected to via bluetooth is technology that truly has the ability to save a life. As someone who lives with diabetes and Addison’s disease, I am a perfect example of a person whose life might be saved by this device. There have been several instances where I have lost consciousness in my sleep, due to both diseases working together to my detriment, and I have woken (or come to) suffering very low blood glucose levels (a hypo) and having an Addisonian crisis subsequently. I have landed in hospital following this nearly every time, with nurses and doctors urgently trying to raise my blood glucose levels before I slip into unconsciousness and/or a coma. If I had had a CGM attached to me at any of these times, it would have alerted my phone as soon as my BGLs started becoming too low and I would have woken and been able to treat it before the situation got dire without my knowledge.
Australia pharmacy will see a consequent rise in the sales of CGMs as they are being made affordable to many more, and will have to keep up with the dramatically increased demand for them as a result. The ability to be able to track what our BGLs are doing more closely than perhaps a glucometer will allow us is what will save the healthcare system so much in the long run. Where a lapse in control over the disease has seen many suffer from organ failure, amputation and many other subsequent diseases, the close control the device allows you to have in terms of being altered to high and low blood glucose levels and the ability to track what your levels are doing 24/7 is what makes it such a game changer. This close control will mean that we have the ability to remain more closely in range, and therefore not causing our bodies harm by sugar peaks and troughs that can otherwise so easily occur.
It is a huge step in the right direction in terms of healthcare in Australia, and another reason as to why our healthcare system is competitive with most in the world. Australia pharmacy is about to receive an influx of diabetic customers as they’ve never seen before.
The CGM would have come especially in handy the night, about three years ago, when I was out to dinner with my (not-yet) boyfriend. Our second date, in fact. I had ordered off the menu of the restaurant we were in, and given myself an injection of insulin in anticipation of the meal about to come out. What I was expecting to be a hearty bowl of ravioli, came out, instead as a fancy three-piece plate of the pasta. Way too pretentiously portioned for the restaurant we were in. I thought nothing of it except ‘oh I’m probably gonna be hungry later’.
Not much later, we were taking a walk around The Rocks. We were minutes in (for memory) when I felt my body jolting in ways it had never before; I was having a seizure. My next memory is of waking up (or, as it turned out, coming to) on the ground with a French woman speaking French as she knelt over me. I could hear sirens wailing as well, it didn’t take me long to work out they were directed at me. I was very reluctant to go with the paramedics to the hospital, until they tested my BGL. It was one-point-something. That is the point that many go into a coma. It was no wonder I had had a seizure.
I went to the hospital.
Here’s what could’ve happened differently if I had had a CGM on me at the time:
I would have taken my insulin. To paint the picture as accurately as possible, I was in the habit back then of blindly calculating how much insulin I should take with my meal, without checking my BGLs first to make a more informed calculation. That night was no exception. It may have had as significant a repercussion as taking too much insulin for what was the amount of food I was presented with.
That aside, my CGM would have alerted me the second my BGL dropped below 4.1. Whether that happened before or after dinner that night, it would have given me the information I needed to a) give myself a more appropriate amount of insulin with my meal (although this may still have been too much if I had injected before the meal came out) and b) respond immediately by giving myself something sugary and/or carby to bring my levels back up, before it reached the point of becoming catastrophic.
Sometimes I feel the symptoms of a hypo coming on, and can address it immediately. Other times, it evades my attention until it is very low and I am at a critical point.
It feels needless to say that the chances of my BGLs getting so low as to cause me to seizure, would have been slim to none.