How a world-first technology helps fitness fan Paul Green to discreetly control his blood glucose levels – in and out of the gym
Paul Green had been playing football, lifting weights and doing cardio exercises for over 30 years. Then, suddenly, in his 40s, he started feeling unwell. He struggled to get to the gym and somehow his body was no longer reacting as well to his fitness training.
“I chatted to a personal trainer about it and he suggested it could be diabetes,” says Paul, an architectural consultant from the South West of England. Paul was understandably sceptical but went to his GP. After numerous tests, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes around two years later, aged 45.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system destroys cells within the pancreas that produce the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin.
How can I stay fit and control my diabetes?
“It was a shock and a puzzle. Would I still be able to carry on my life as before?” says Paul. He started taking 100 units of insulin a day, using two types of insulin injection pens, one to deliver a long-acting shot and one to deliver a short acting shot.
“The biggest challenge was controlling my insulin doses to maintain the right blood glucose level. It was up and down like a fiddler’s elbow, and managing it was like a full-time job. The pens were differentiated by colour but sometimes I would forget which one I had already used.
“I also had to stop the fitness activities I had enjoyed for 30 years, such as football and weights, and I was fearful about doing cardio exercises because it could cause my levels to plummet and I’d experience hypoglycaemia,” says Paul. No-one can tell you are using a medical device, as glancing at your phone is not unusual. It’s a huge improvement.”
How technology helps
In September 2019, Paul swapped his injection pens for a Medtrum continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a tiny sensor inserted under the skin on his abdomen which monitored his blood sugar levels. His CGM connecte wirelessly to a Medtrum A6 TouchCare insulin patch pump, also attached to his skin, this system was operated by a personal diabetes manager (PDM). The PDM is a small touchscreen device that remotely instructed the delivery of insulin in the correct doses to meet his body’s demand.
Managing my blood glucose levels is no longer a full-time job – now it’s as simple as cleaning my teeth.
“It is a big improvement on the pens, as it has largely stabilised my blood sugar and reduced the amount of insulin I need. The continuous feedback from the CGM also means I have learnt how to monitor my blood sugar levels more effectively, and it has a predictive low-glucose suspend feature which helps me avoid the risk of hypoglycaemia when I am in the gym.”
However, the system meant Paul had to carry the PDM with him constantly. “Sometimes I would forget it,” says Paul. “It could also be a bit embarrassing in social or business situations if I had to get it out to check it. I don’t always want to share that I have diabetes.”
A world-first app solves my problems
Then in June this year, Paul started using the EasyPatch App, which gives him the ability to control his pump and CGM on his smartphone. The app is the first in the world to control an insulin patch pump.
“I can see my readings just by glancing at my phone. It’s less intrusive than getting out my old PDM, and I never leave my phone at home, so I am never without my monitor. No-one can tell you are using a medical device, as glancing at your phone is not unusual. It’s a huge improvement.”
Paul adds: “It will be a great bonus for anyone who uses a mobile phone.”
“Simple as cleaning my teeth”
“The whole system has changed the task of managing my type 1 diabetes, and the app has been a huge help. Managing my blood glucose levels is no longer a full-time job – now it’s as simple as cleaning my teeth.”