Aussie Readers, given the escalating rate of new Government policy and funding announcements, it will come as no surprise to you that a Federal election is imminent and judging by the nature of the announcements to date, the result of the next election is expected to be a close one. Am I the only Australian woman still menstruating that considers the recent announcement exempting sanitary products from the Goods and Service Tax a stunt? Some estimates put the saving to each woman at less than $10 per year. But I suppose the more you bleed, the more you save. Let’s not forget that GST revenue goes to State Governments anyway, so it is not like they are giving anything away. I am being facetious but you get my drift. Never let it be said that the Coalition has a woman problem.
If I had my way, I would rather see the Government commit to further emission reductions. I don’t think anyone outside of Government seriously believes Australia is going to meet its Paris emissions reduction target based on current policy settings. If I can’t have that, and apparently I can’t, I would like to relieve some of the day to day stress of living with Type 1 diabetes. I propose to send the following letter to the Minister for Health requesting the Government commit to funding Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) for adults with Type 1 diabetes. I will also write similarly to the Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Health. If you know of, or live with someone with Type 1 diabetes, please consider writing to the Health Minister and his Opposition counterpart, requesting that their party publicly agree to subsidising CGM.
Here is my proposed letter:
I would like to express my appreciation of the Government’s decision in 2016 to fund Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) for children under 21 years of age with Type 1 diabetes. While parents of children with Type 1 diabetes require access to expensive tools like CGM to help manage their child’s blood glucose levels, the need for subsidised CGM for adults with Type 1 diabetes is no less acute. I therefore request that the Government commit to funding CGM for adults with Type 1 diabetes.
As someone who has had Type 1 diabetes for over 45 years, I am somewhat ambivalent about making this request because, after all, there is always someone worse off than me. I appreciate that funding CGM would require a substantial ongoing funding commitment on the Government’s part. However, if not for me, I make this request on behalf of the thousands of adults with Type 1 diabetes and their families who struggle to safely manage this chronic condition.
I decided long ago to prioritise my kidneys over my brain, and therefore choose to run my blood glucose levels low to avoid renal complications. This is extraordinarily difficult to do safely without CGM. While I do not have kidney damage even after 45 years of living with Type 1 diabetes, my aim and strategy for achieving normal blood glucose levels has compromised my partner’s health. Minister, imagine you were a partner of someone with Type 1 diabetes and, needing to be alert to hypoglycemia at all times, you felt so tired that you just wanted to die! Then there is the trauma my whole family is subjected to when my blood glucose drops dangerously. I can be blasé about it because when I am hypo, I am often not rational and sometimes completely “out of it”. If you have ever seen someone fitting, or encountered a diabetic who is belligerent when hypo and does not want to be helped, you will understand that it is a deeply traumatic experience for those trying to provide assistance. For the family members of those with Type 1 diabetes, this is a trauma they experience over and over.
I often hear that the burden of disease is a factor in the high rate of mental health problems in people with Type 1 diabetes. While there is no doubt that the burden of disease contributes to poor mental health, there is precious little recognition by the medical profession that fluctuating blood glucose levels also lead to chronic mood swings and ongoing depression. Those adults who are able to self-fund CGM have reported significant improvements in mental health by being better able to keep their blood glucose levels in the “normal” range.
I have considered the medical criteria issued by the Health department for determining those children eligible for subsidised CGM services. Personally, I feel that those criteria are complete nonsense. To live life complication free requires an obsessive attention to blood glucose control that is exhausting, and this effort, where successful, should not be penalised by refusing access to subsidised CGM. CGM is no panacea, but it is the best technology we have at the moment for predicting changes in glucose levels, and is therefore an effective tool for improving safety for the Type 1 diabetic and for reducing the burden of disease on the whole family.
On this basis, please commit to funding, either in part or fully, CGM for adults.
Thank you for reading.