What the recent CGM subsidy announcement means for me


PDC Health Hub

April 17th 2022. This will be a day I won't forget anytime soon, because it's the day that the Morrison government announced that, if re-elected at the upcoming election, they will subsidise the cost of life-saving CGM devices for EVERY Australian living with Type 1 Diabetes.

For a long time, only those under 21 years of age or with a Health Care Card could get free access to this life-saving technology. Then a few years ago, women who were planning pregnancy, pregnant or 3 months post-partum also became a part of the minority of Australians who could access these devices. However, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison rightly said in his announcement, “Type 1 Diabetes is an insidious condition that cannot be prevented and costs Australians thousands of dollars each year”.

And the good news kept coming! The Labor party confirmed shortly after this announcement that they would match this pledge.

So what does this mean for someone like me, a 30-something year old living with Type 1 Diabetes who isn't eligible for any current subsidies?

The memories I share below shape what this news means to me.

I grew up very quickly once I was old enough for my parents to explain that Mum has Type 1 Diabetes and that’s why she’d taken a “funny turn” earlier that day.

From that day on I had an extra responsibility - to look out for mums hypos. Please note, I was never asked to do this – I was a child after all – but it’s just what I did, and what I'm sure many other kids in my position would have done for their beloved parent.

  • I remember being terrified and unsure of what to do if we were in the car while a hypo was setting in. I’ll be forever grateful to the guardian angel that was obviously watching over us.
  • I remember being in a food court, having to call one of mums friends to help and them eventually arriving with a can of coke in hand. My Nanna was with us but she didn’t seem to know how to help except to call for help. Following this incident she gave my sister & I some loose change to keep for emergencies so we would always have enough money to use a public pay phone to call for help.
  • I remember mum collapsing on the kitchen floor and having to call an ambulance for her. I sent my sister outside to wait at the end of the driveway in the dark of the night while I stayed on the line with the operator trying to get some sugar/honey into mums mouth. Dad was working night shift so he met us at the ED that night while my sister and I travelled in the ambulance with mum. Things escalated so quickly that night: one minute she was fine, the next minute she was on the floor.
  • I remember always being so worried when we would have a certain fish meal for dinner as mum often ended up having a hypo after that meal. It was especially terrifying when Dad was working night shift and I knew the onus was on me to keep her safe.
  • I remember that the night of my 21st we ended the night with a call to 000 for mum who was having a severe hypo. My dad is a nurse and there were also 2 other nurses in attendance that night, both of whom were very experienced with diabetes as they were close friends of the family. It wasn’t for lack of knowledge around how to treat the hypo that we had to call 000. It was the intensity of the hypo and how hard and fast it hit.
  • I remember getting home from work several times to find mum hypo on the couch.
  • I remember being able to pick up on it before anyone else.

Most of all I remembered these events and became absolutely petrified the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (many, many years later after becoming a mum myself 2 years prior at 28 yrs of age). I had a 2 year old to care for, I was barely out of the woods of PND and here I was being told I had Type 1 Diabetes. A life-changing disease that couldn't be prevented, there was no cure and I knew exactly how quickly things could get bad with this disease. Sure, it definitely helped having the first-hand experience of life with T1D in the family, but that also came with the significant burden of knowing how quickly things can get bad and how much you depend on other people (sometimes complete strangers!) to keep you alive at times.

By the time of my diagnosis, Mum had started using the Freestyle Libre FGM technology which was providing incredibly valuable insights to both her and her Endocrinologist who were able to use the data to make tweaks to her day-to-day diabetes management, as well as reduce her overall burden of living with T1D. I hadn’t even left the hospital following my own diagnosis before my Dad came in to visit, bringing 2 x Freestyle Libre devices with him.The availability of this technology made it so much easier to deal with my own diagnosis and "new norm". I can’t tell you how often I would scan each day to check on my blood sugar levels. Using this technology empowered me to closely monitor my blood glucose levels and make tweaks to my insulin dosing to get my HbA1c in the "ideal range" to start trying for our second baby. Once the TTC/pregnancy/postpartum subsidy came in I switched to Dexcom which was a whole new level of game changer in living with diabetes!

To have an alarm to alert me if I was going too high or too low is a huge security net for both me and my family. With CGM technology, I’m not scared to go to sleep at night and not wake up (i’ve been known to have a juice boxbefore bed with no insulin to ease my worries about not waking up in the morning for my child while my husband was away for work).

Thanks to this CGM access, I’m not so scared about if I’m losing my hypo awareness or not. CGM does it for me. There is so much comfort in knowing that I’m less likely to have a hypo while looking after my son on my own (have you ever tried to treat a hypo while chasing a toddler around a park trying to keep him safe?!). It was an invaluable tool in my pregnancy management when I became pregnant with baby #2. It is not just me that it keeps safe. It kept my unborn baby safe. It keeps that same baby, now 18 months old, safe. It keeps my 6yr old safe. It keeps my husband safe (i.e., when I’m driving). It keeps my parents and sister as mentally healthy as possible - because I know they are fully aware of how quickly things can go wrong with T1D. It has 100% saved my sanity. It is a huge protective factor for my mental health. I used to say you would have to admit me to a mental health ward if I was ever diagnosed with diabetes. But thanks to the incredible technology advances that is CGM, the thought of living with T1D is a bit less terrifying. For me, for my friends and most importantly - for my family. It is the biggest relief to know that subsidised CGM is on the cards now. To not have to work out where I’m going to find $300 a month to cover the costs for a disease that I couldn’t have prevented, that could easy and quickly kill me if I don’t get my insulin doses right is INCREDIBLE. It’s equally as incredible news for our healthcare system who will have less diabetic patients attending hospital for hypo-related events, DKA or other diabetes-related complications.

Doing the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, a walk I've often done in support of mum, but this time it was the year after my own diagnosis with some fellow T1 friends I've met on this journey!

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