Diabetes Week part 3: diabetes on the move

This is part three in our series of #T1Dinsights responses for Diabetes Week running from June 12-18. Click here to see part two.

Our #T1Dinsights research identified that there is a huge amount of equipment required to manage T1D, a lot of which needs to be carried around with you at all times. We were sent photos of rucksacks filled with glucose meters, test strips, insulin pens, bananas, jelly babies and Lucozade – all needed for a trip out for the day. We also heard stories of the embarrassment of a young man having to carry a ‘man bag’ in a nightclub but that the fear of actually losing it far outweighed the humiliation and ribbing he got from his friends. It sounds like a burden.

Following on from this, we then went out for dinner with a friend with T1D who pulled various bits of kit ‘complete with pocket fluff’ out of various pockets in his trousers and watched him awkwardly test his blood glucose as he couldn’t quite get his finger under the end of the test strip when the device was resting on the table.

We were made aware that insulin needs to be refrigerated which can be problematic when away from home and that although you are supposed to use a new needle each time you inject, many T1D-ers don’t do this as disposing of sharps when out and about can be difficult.

There are a number of carry cases available on the market which claim to have everything you need to manage your diabetes in them – but these look so ‘medical’ and un-stylish that I can image that is the last thing you would want to pull out in a nightclub.

The idea: Add some style

Well, why not? It’s a bag and you carry it around with you… why shouldn’t it look good? And how about a bag which moves away from the ‘one case fits all’ scenario and instead goes for an individual ‘pocket friendly’ style?

With a well designed bag or case, this would allow people to feel less intimidated to get their equipment out. If we could design each piece with style and useful functionality, gleaned from real insights, they could not only look good but make life easier at the same time.

A glucose meter case could be designed in such a way that it keeps the device clean and ‘fluff free’ when it’s in your pocket but that it doesn’t need to be removed from the case to use. A flap/cover could fold back to provide a support which allows the case to be placed on a table and lifts up the front edge so that the test strip has more clearance around it for easier blood application.

Diabetes Week part three - diabetes on the move

Or how about an insulated case for insulin vials/cartridges? Most insulin can be stored at room temperature for 2-4 weeks but it is recommended to keep it in the fridge and not expose it to extreme hot or cold temperatures (i.e. leave it in the glove compartment of the car on a hot day or put it in the hold of a plane).

To assist with regulating the temperature of insulin vials and syringes, the range of accessories could also include a pocket friendly insulated bag to keep insulin within the right temperature range.

Does anything exist like this already?

Myabetic, a diabetes fashion brand set-up by Kyrra Richards, is a great example of someone improving the experience for people suffering in silence. Her story on being diagnosed to setting up her company proves exactly what our research showed:

“…I was expected to carry around my essential diabetes supplies in a drab nylon case. I hated its medicinal appearance and would often ‘forget’ to include the dingy pack in my daily routine. The bland case was anything but chic couture – diabetes was clashing with my lifestyle…My diagnosis had forced me to question my originality. I had been barcoded and stocked on the sugar-free shelf. “Diabetes” had become my identity. It was time to strip this label and reclaim my individuality. I decided to manage my health the same way I manage every other aspect of my life – with my personal style…”

“…I founded Myabetic to start a diabetes makeover. It was time to end the impersonal, standard-issue criterion. I wanted better, more vibrant options. Instead of apathetically surrendering to the disease, I could contribute. I used my artistic passion to give diabetes management a fresh new look.” Kyrra Richards, Myabetic (taken from myabetic.com).

How might it improve the life of those with T1D?

A less ‘medical’ carry case would both look good and could improve functionality, so not only will the user be less-burdened carrying all their kit around, but wouldn’t be too anxious about producing it from their pocket in a social setting.

What do you think?

Get in touch with us on Twitter @team_medical

Our summary at the end of Diabetes Week

Over the course of the week we’ve given a little thought into three ideas that could to improve the lives of people with T1D. They may not all be ready to hit the shelves any time soon or change the world on their own, but hopefully they prove that listening to people with diabetes is inspiring, and that we should be listening.

These thoughts explore what could be done to help make an extremely complex condition just that little bit more manageable…

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