Sometimes I feel like no time has passed at all — that my son James is still a little guy who relies entirely upon me for his care. His diagnosis with type 1 diabetes in 2006 simultaneously feels like yesterday and a century ago. I will say that there have been many exciting innovations since those days that, when taken together, make me feel almost overwhelmed with gratitude.
Here’s my rundown of just the top 10 that have had the biggest impact on our life with type 1 diabetes.
Before fanny packs were cool and smartphones were ubiquitous, it was kind of hard to find a way to hold insulin pumps and supplies for a small child. Once smartphones were invented, we had a lot more options, but now that fanny packs are stylish again, we’re all set!
Better screens on pumps
We’re grateful that pumps today look so modern and have newfangled technology. James was very attracted to the technical aspects of pumps, and the bright clear screens on many of the new models were a big improvement in enticing him to learn to use his pump.
Lower-carb eating options
We don’t eat strictly low-carb, but when we want to because James is running high, or we’re trying to tighten control or test basal rates, we have so many options and awesome recipes to try because of the trends. I think food labeling has also gotten better.
Less painful lancets
This is just a matter of somebody developing a needle, making it smaller and less painful. Such a seemingly simple innovation, but reducing the pain of blood sugar testing makes life better for people with diabetes!
This is a very recent innovation! Due in part to the restrictions brought by COVID-19, our healthcare provider is offering ever more convenient remote options for meeting with our primary care doctor and pediatric endocrinologist. Remote visits are very convenient and safe. We alternate remote visits with in-person office visits.
More accurate CGM
The accuracy on the early continuous glucose monitors was okay. Now several companies offer amazing CGM models, and they’re more widely available than ever. They’re easier to put on, to use, and to pay for. We love CGM.
Connecting people with type 1 diabetes is social media at its best. Not only do you get big international communities in various groups united by interest, but you get small local groups that help out in real, tangible ways. I have been saved by my local group on probably a half-dozen occasions.
Data sharing through CGM
This one is probably the closest to my heart. When James could be at a friend’s house and I could sit in my living room and see that he wasn’t low and his blood sugar was doing just fine, my whole world changed!
It probably sounds trite to mention it, but looking at my list, so many of these innovations are actually run through my phone. From carb-counting apps to social media posts to data sharing for my CGM, my phone is one of my best diabetes tools. Life is unrecognizable without it.
Insulin pump technology
James’ new pump integrates the already amazing CGM technology with more advanced pumping to automate some really critical diabetes tasks. James was very young when he was diagnosed, but now that he’s getting older he can use this incredible innovation to take him to the next level of independent diabetes management. Now, wherever he ends up going when he leaves home (and whatever our world ends up looking like!), at the very least I can know that he has some incredible technology helping him avoid pervasive low blood sugar and keeping his overnight blood sugar stable.
I look at this list and I’m grateful for every one of these things. From trends to tech, there have been so many things to help make life better. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.