Friday, October 28, 2016

Hospitals aren't used to healthy people...

I say hospitals I mean nurses and doctors really. I have recently had cause to be in hospital for a few nights. This has meant among many other things having my blood pressure and pulse taken on average every 2 hours and I mean EVERY 2 hours. Whether it's 2am or 4am it's every 2 hours. Sometimes I don't think I was even awake when they did it. 

I'm used to having my blood pressure and pulse taken in hospitals. I have twice yearly diabetes check ups that involve this. Every time it's taken there's an alert on the machine as my pulse is low. Now I'm no Miguel Indurain but my resting pulse is in the low 40's. If I'm watching to it will be around 48-50, reading in bed around 44 or so and on waking around 38-42. All very low. 

In hospital it appears that the machine alerts sub 60bpm. It alerted every time they took my readings and with multiple nurses on different shifts I had to explain every time that "I am pretty fit", that I "run a lot". Still it was met with some sideways looks and on a couple of times was called out to the consultant. The consultant who knew and understood my background and was not concerned. 

Looking around me in hospital on the various wards and it occurred to me that I was in a very distinct minority. Not being overweight, it appeared, was quite unique. But I was still in hospital in spite of being pretty fit. 

As an observation it seems if you're overweight you are more likely to be in hospital this is based purely on what I saw. Also if you are unfit you are maybe more likely to be in hospital, this is based on the fact that all the nurses were surprised by a low heart rate. None of this is news, "overweight person in hospital" is not a headline you're going to see anytime soon as it's not a shock. 

I started to think that it's quite sad that healthcare professionals in the main are dealing with the unhealthy. There were people I was with that you have to wonder whether once their immediate issues are resolved that they will not be back there with either a recurrence or new health issue. 

Get fit, lose weight and give our healthcare professionals some healthy inspiring people to work with! 

Diabetes Cyborg Type 1

I'm trying to think of a character from a film that was human but part robot too. There's plenty of robots made to look human with, possibly the most famous being The Terminator.  Beyond that? There was Bladerunner, Humans (recently on Channel 4) and of course Ex-Machina. I guess Darth Vader meets what i am describing, a man with machine parts. There is also the DC Comic character Cyborg. The point being that there are men with machine parts. I am soon to join these ranks! Yes me. 

I won't be donning the lycra to fight crime or buying a light sabre to duel with my unwitting son. My implants will enable me to monitor my blood sugar and administer insulin. 

Not that exciting but imagine you had been Type 1 diabetic for more than a decade. Testing your blood with finger pricks maybe 5 times a day and injecting insulin anything from 5-7 times a day. In a decade that's more than 18,000 blood tests and maybe 22,000 injections. Now imagine you could remove all of that with a patch well two patches. 

The first device is the Freestyle Libre this enables blood testing without the need to prick the finger. I have an appointment at the hospital next week to get one of these on trial. A sensor is worn on the skin, when you need a blood test you pass the monitor over the scanner and it provides a reading. A bit like scanning your shopping at the Supermarket. The advantages of this are many, multiple tests without the need for multiple finger pricks or test strips. Discreet testing, really useful for work or some social situations. Easier testing at night!

The only issue with this is that it is quite expensive. A patch lasts 10-14 days and costs a little under £60. That is a lot of money over a year. There are moves to reduce this cost and potentially make it available on the NHS i believe but no timescales as yet. 

The second device, and i am more excited about this than perhaps the Libre, is an insulin pump and specifically the Omnipod. My diabetes care has been talking to me about pumps for sometime but i have always resisted as they need to be removed for showering and the way i live that is no good. I am an ultramarathoner and regularly run commute. 2 or 3 showers a day post workouts and commutes is not unheard of. The Omnipod gets around this by essentially being waterproof! I can wear this in the shower. This is as it is not connected to the insulin delivery mechanism by tubing but instead by Bluetooth. There is a patch worm on the skin that contains the insulin and the delivery is controlled by a Bluetooth control unit. 

I talked about this last week with my Diabetes consultant and am now on the list to get one. I also have an appointment with Dr Rob Andrews in Taunton mid-November and he is, by all accounts an advocate of this pump technology for his patients. 

So pretty soon i will have a couple of patches and devices that are doing something my body cannot do itself. I have managed pretty well for the past decade or so but the technology is now available to make this even simpler and more efficient and, hopefully, more balanced and less down to guess work. 

Exciting times ahead. Now to buy one of these...