14 November 2019

World Diabetes Day 2019: what Kaleido means to me.

You’re nine years old. The pediatrician tells you that you’ll spend the rest of your life dealing with a nasty, unfair disease called ‘Type 1 diabetes mellitus’. Great news – not. In hindsight, I should have just eaten the whole pack of biscuits there and then. Mainly because they didn’t serve anything decent in the next week in hospital. Except for the cucumber-zucchini soup, which I preferred to pour into the toilet and give the cleaning lady the fright of her life. You know, just keeping myself busy.

Fourteen years have passed since. In that time, I’ve got to know all of the quirks of my diabetes. From unnecessarily painful needles to very irritating insulin pumps that meant I couldn’t wear that cute dress I’d found. But on reflection, these were ‘luxury problems’. For a year now, I’ve been getting tangled in my nasogastric tube, which I’m hooked up to because of my gastroparesis. Every day is another battle with that tube up my nose, getting caught on door handles and detracting attention away from my fantastic green lipstick when I’m on a date.

Hello, Kaleido!

So it was time for a change. Time to put a positive twist on my rollercoaster blood sugar levels and to better control complications. After a long brainstorming session, I finally decided to go on Kaleido. A big plus for a new accessory that subtly draws the emphasis away from my tube. In the beginning, there was a bit of trial-and-error figuring out which pump would best go with my, some would say, gothic attire. And where would the pump look its best? On my arm? Or maybe on my stomach – that’s sure to make everyone at the pool jealous. (Sadly for those people, only real ‘Kaleidoers’ are eligible for this special accessory.)

However, the most important thing was how this pump could help tame my erratic blood sugar levels, in a careful balancing act with tube feeding and neuropathic pain. It took me about two months to find the perfect balance. A basal rate for days with no tube feeding, a basal rate on days on which 50% of my nutrition was tube-fed. And a basal rate on days on which 100% of my nutrition was tube-fed. These machines always looked so complicated to set up, but I learned the opposite is true – it’s incredibly simple. As soon as my nurse and I had calculated my insulin-to-carb ratio and insulin sensitivity, the rest happened virtually automatically. Because I could enter my sensitivity and ratio on the handset (which can even be changed every hour, just like a basal rate), it was a piece of cake to set the rates.

So many positives

As soon as I received the calculations from my continuous glucose monitors (CGM) a month later, I saw that I had rocketed from 20% Time in Range to 64%. I cried like a baby. Never in my time with diabetes had I managed to get blood glucose levels as good as these. I would normally buy a cake to celebrate, but because of my stomach problems, I had to make do with a sticker on my tube pack that said ‘Cake’. Although I thought this was hilarious, my girlfriend looked at me as if I’d gone a bit mad.

I’ve been using the Kaleido pump for over six months now. I’m so proud of the decision I made in consultation with my diabetes nurse. However I tried to calculate, injections never helped to stabilise my blood sugar levels; but Kaleido does the job perfectly. I’ve finally found a pump that understands my wacky idiosyncrasies and delays any complications for as long as possible.

And as I also struggle with autism and sensory hypersensitivity, that wireless pump was a gift from heaven. If my body is in sensory overload, it can’t tolerate any more stimuli (cue a feeder tube flying across the room). So it’s fantastic that the pumps don’t weigh anything at all. I don’t feel the Kaleido on my arm, and I haven’t suffered from any negative side effects from the patches. That’s really something. This is also where the micro pulse delivery system comes into its own. I don’t feel the insulin burning under my skin anymore, as it’s delivered steadily and in doses. It’s amazing how one tiny thing has solved so many big problems.

Basically, no matter how bad some days may be, my Kaleido means I stay in control. It’s great to have a lifesaver I can always rely on, whether it’s mental or physical. I never want anything else!

About Kimberley:

I’m Kimberley. I’m 23 years old, and I’ve been part of the type 1 diabetes community since 2005. I was able to obtain my lower secondary professional education certificate, but unfortunately, due to complications, not my diploma as a veterinary assistant. Despite my problems with diabetes, I try to get the best out of life: I have two rabbits that I adore, I try to spread awareness about diabetes on social media, and I like to develop my creative side. Seven months ago, I became a proud owner of the Kaleido. Besides the fact that the pump has lowered my HbA1c by 62%, the support from the Kaleido community has given me a lot of peace of mind and made me feel accepted.