Freestyle libre on NHS prescription at last!

My son has at last been given an NHS prescription for the Freestyle Libre sensors.

These make a big difference in the ease and frequency with which you can test your blood sugars. If you know how to adjust your insulin to meals, activity and sort out your basals, the added readings that you get help you stay in your target zone much more easily.

I bought the device and the sensors   for my son very soon after they launched and have been funding them at £100 every four weeks since. Ouch!

This was worth it for the added peace of mind. The worry of a child never ends and is more so if that child uses insulin, lives alone, is a driver, and is 5 hours drive away.

My son was actually expecting to wait another four months as he was told there was an eighteen month waiting list for the diabetic clinic. He got a short notice cancellation some four months earlier. I know from Emma and other people with type one that getting the device and sensors is a post-code lottery and that although Theresa May thinks everyone who would benefit from them should get them, this is far from practice at present.

I can only hope that there is an increase in funding to help those of  you who need them and that the scripts continue to be NHS funded, particularly when I retire.

Update: The Freestyle Libre System can now be used for drivers say the DVLA.


Diet doctor: Type one and women’s videos

A year ago I was interviewed by Diet Doctor and after quite a wait, I’m delighted so say that my video interviews are now available at their site.

The subjects are tips for self management for people living with insulin dependent diabetes  and addressing women’s issues with type one and type two diabetes.

The videos are in the MEMBERSHIP section.

You can access these by joining the site. You can take on a free months trial and decide if you wish to continue or not after that.






Scottish Diabetes Survey 2016: are we winning or losing the diabetes struggle?

In Scotland 5.4% of the population is registered as having diabetes. 10.6% have type one and 88.3% have type two. 1.1% have other types such as Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young.

In type ones 37.3% are overweight and a further 26% are obese. So 36.7% are of normal weight. In type twos 31.6% were overweight and 55.6% were obese. So only 12.8% were normal weight.

The annual HbA1c was done in over 90% of diabetics in both groups. 24.5% of type ones and 58.6% of type twos met the target of less than 58 mmol/mol which is equivalent to 7.5%.

Over 84.9% of both groups had their blood pressure measured that year and 45% of type ones and 32.7% of type twos met the target of less than 130 mmHg systolic.

Cholesterol levels were done in 86.4% of patients and this met the target of less than 5 mmol/l in 69.1% of type ones and 78.4% of type twos.

22.9% of type ones were current smokers compared to 17.2% of type twos.

Eye screening was undertaken in 85.4% of diabetics that year. 59.1% had had their feet checked and the score recorded.

When it comes to end stage disease in type ones, 3.5% had had a heart attack, 2.6% had had coronary revascularisation, 1.4% had end stage renal failure and 1.1% had had a major limb amputation.

In type twos, 9.7% had had a heart attack, 7.5% had had revascularisation, 0.6% had end stage renal failure and 0.7% had had a major amputation.

Overall 10.8 of the diabetic population use insulin pumps.

My comments: It can be seen from the data that screening is  doing very well. We have an average number of people with diabetes and the distribution between types one and two has not changed. Smoking is an issue in only about 20% of diabetics which probably compares favourably with social norms.

We have lost the battle of the bulge. Only 12.8% of type twos are of normal weight. Type ones are more like the “norm” for Scotland with just over a third being of normal weight.

Blood sugar control is very poor particularly in type ones with about three quarters of them with blood sugars over 7.5%. 

When it comes to complications, type twos are much more likely to get cardiac problems whereas type ones are more likely to get renal failure and amputations. 


Metformin improves blood sugar and vascular health in type one children

 From Diabetes in Control: Metformin Improves Vascular Health in Children With Type 1 Diabetes
Nov 18, 2017
In individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1DM), cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major issue and the primary cause of death.

Vascular changes can be detected years before progression to CVD. Targeting blood sugar regulation early in patients at high risk of developing T1DM and in those already diagnosed with T1DM, could potentially help reduce vascular dysfunction risk and even reverse changes already made in vascular function.

Past studies have shown that in adults with T1DM, metformin reduces HbA1c, BMI, and required insulin doses. It has also been suggested that metformin leads to reduced cardiovascular events and better blood sugar regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Studies conducted on children with T1DM suggest the same benefits. However, there is currently no research on how metformin affects vascular function in children with T1DM.
A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the association between metformin and vascular health in children with T1DM over a 12-month period. The study included a total of 90 children from a Women’s and Children’s Hospital in South Australia.  Children were randomly divided into two groups to receive either the metformin intervention or the placebo intervention. Children who weighed 60kg or greater received 1gm of metformin twice daily and those who weighed less than 60kg received 500mg twice daily. Doses were then increased to the complete dose over a period of 2 to 6 weeks.
Follow-up was conducted at 3, 6, and 12 months from the start of the study. Vascular function was obtained at baseline and at every follow-up visit using the brachial artery ultrasound, HbA1C, insulin dose, and BMI were among some of the other outcomes measured.
Results show that vascular function defined by GTN improved over the 12-month period by 3.3% in the metformin intervention group regardless of HbA1c when compared to the placebo group (95% CI 0.3 to 6.3; P=0.03). GTN was found to be the highest in the metformin group at 3 months when compared to placebo. Children in the metformin group also experienced significant improvement (P=0.001) in HbA1c levels at 3 months (8.4%; 95% CI 8.0 to 8.8) (68mmol/mol; 95% CI 64 to 73) when compared to the placebo group (9.3%; 95% CI 9.0 to 9.7). At 12 months, the overall difference between HbA1c improvement between the two groups was lower but remained a significant 1.0% (95% CI 0.4 to 1.5) 10.9mmol/mol (95% CI 4.4 to 16.4), P=0.001. In addition, it was found that children in the metformin group had a decreased insulin dose requirement of 0.2 units/kg/day throughout the 12-month period compared to those in the placebo group (95% CI 0.1 to 0.3, P=0.001).
The following study determined that children with T1DM with above average BMIs and taking metformin saw a significant improvement in vascular smooth muscle function compared to those not taking metformin. The study suggested that in addition to vascular health, metformin also improved HbA1c levels and reduced total daily insulin dose. It was found that improvements in both vascular function and HbA1c were the highest at 3 months. This is most likely due to medication adherence being the highest around 3 months.
Practice Pearls:
In children with above average weight and who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, metformin provides a significant improvement in vascular smooth muscle function.
Metformin provides a significant improvement in HbA1c levels in children with type 1 diabetes.
In addition to vascular health and HbA1c benefits, metformin further aids in reducing daily insulin dose in children with type 1 diabetes.
Anderson JJA, Couper JJ, Giles LC, et al. Effect of Metformin on vascular function in children with type 1 diabetes: A 12 month randomized controlled trial. 2017. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017; 0: 1-16.

Diabetes Digital Media launch low carb app endorsed by NHS

Adapted from The Times  January 6 2019 by Peter Evans

The better late than never NHS has finally endorsed a phone app that helps diabetics stick to a low carb diet.

Diabetes Digital Media based in Warwick have had their app, The Low Carb Program, accepted by the NHS apps library.  DDM has partnered with Ascensia Diabetes Care to allow patients free use of the app when recommended by GPs.

DDM was founded by Arjun Panesar and Charlotte Summers. Their company is on track to make sales of 1.7 m this year.


Beware of alternative causes of neuropathy in diabetes

Diabetes in Control: Disasters averted

Not All Neuropathies in Diabetes are Caused by Diabetes
May 10, 2016

A woman, 57 years of age, type 2 diabetes, metformin 1,000mg twice daily for 12 years, came in with weakness, anemia, tingling of fingers and toes. Her A1C had always been below 7%. Some in my office thought she had developed diabetic peripheral neuropathy. I could not disagree, but I also knew metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. I immediately ordered lab including a B12 level. Sure enough, her B12 was low. We recommended B12 lozenges, 500mcg daily, and her symptoms as well as her B12 levels improved. This was good news because neurological symptoms don’t always improve with B12 therapy, but hers did. (My comment: they need to be treated within six months of onset)
Lessons Learned:
• For patients taking metformin, check B12 levels at least annually.
• Consider recommending B12 supplementation to patients who take metformin, or at least teach of the possibility of this side effect.
• Teach patients who are on metformin therapy to eat foods high in vitamin B12 such as animal sources of foods including beef, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy and foods fortified with B12.
• When a patient with diabetes presents with peripheral neuropathy, check vitamin B12 levels, and treat accordingly.

Diabetes awareness mama: managing mood changes in your type 1 child

This article is from the mother of a type one son who has recently started school. She discusses ways to help other parents of children in the same situation in her blog.

Managing mood changes
July 5, 2017
Hannah Foreman-Wenneker
Today I would like to open the doors on what goes on behind the scenes of a T1D child. What do they feel that we parents cannot see? What do they want to tell us but are too young to possess the vocabulary or verbalise their emotions? These, and many more questions, often race through my mind. Taking on the full time job of a pancreas isn’t just about calculating carbohydrates, night time blood tests or insulin pump therapy; it is equally as important to understand the side effects this disease has on your child’s brain and subsequently, personality.
It all starts with the physiology of diabetes. I will never be able to fully appreciate what our son physically and mentally feels when he experiences a hypo or hyper, I can only describe to you what I have been told. According to the experts: diabetics, when a child is having a hypo they feel weak, dizzy, confused and shaky. This fantastic 3 minute video of four woman describing how they physically feel and mentally react during a hypo is well worth your time.
It is quite common for a T1D to suffer from ‘hypo-unawareness‘, particularly in young children who are naturally less aware of their body and how it functions. Hypo-unawareness is physically dangerous, but it is also a mental battle for the patient and for those who care for them. When our son Noah, is feeling these symptoms his insulin pump will give me a warning alarm (caveat: there is a 20 minute, give or take, communication delay between his body and the pump) and I can treat the hypo for its physical effects.

There is no medical treatment for the mental effects of a hypo. In our experience, Noah morphs from an adorable kitten to a roaring lion in a nano-second. He goes from “Mummy I love you to the universe and back” to a vein-popping, red faced animal screaming inaudible words that make no sense anyway. Unlike typical child-like tantrums (which he naturally has too, yey! these appear as is if from nowhere.

Sometimes his behaviour is quicker to burst forth than the pump’s warning alarm and we can tell he is having a hypo simply from his monumental meltdown over inconsequential nothingness. Even though I know his diabetes is just ‘having a conversation with me’, I confess, I sometimes feel embarrassed when we are out in public. There are occasions when I have been in the supermarket or walking down the street and Noah’s diabetes wants to have another ‘chat’ with me. Millions of parents know the look you get from strangers on the street; you know the one, it appears that you cannot control your own child. I get those same looks but sometimes I just want to scream ‘you have no idea what he battles with inside!‘

Noah can also become confused during a hypo and he finds it difficult to concentrate. Whilst these are less fiery side-effects they cause me more long-term concern than the tantrum-style behaviour. I know the meltdowns will become easier as he gets older but he has already started school and now I find myself wondering how hypos will affect him in the future. How will Noah cope with T1D together with his education? Will it impact his academic ability? How can we help him now to learn to overcome these issues down the line?
According to this scholarly article we are already using the best possible therapy to support Noah’s mood and behaviour. ‘Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion’ or insulin pump therapy has been very effective in reducing the frequency of hypos in T1Ds and the results show improved mood and behaviour changes in young children. So is that all that we have at hand to help? My answer to this is: I don’t think so.

Whilst it is notoriously difficult to measure neurological impact of T1D and, from what I can gather, is something that experts vary in opinion on, frequently the following cognitive elements are reported to be affected by T1D: intelligence (general ability), attention, processing speed, memory, and executive skills. I am not a scientist and I haven’t done any research into this, I am also only two years in as a T1D carer but my firm belief today is that all of these cognitive domains can also be greatly influenced by the parents, teachers, siblings, social circles, mentors and extended family etc. who surround the child.
And what about hypers? Someone once described to me that a hyper is like having a massive hangover, but without the nausea part. The patient is very thirsty, has severe headaches and lethargy. It isn’t rocket science to realise that these are not attributable feelings to a productive day at school or work.

For the last year, Noah experiences an (as yet) unresolved hyper every morning after his breakfast. His glucose levels soar, sometimes triple the amount of a non-T1D and try hard as we might, we haven’t yet fixed this ‘bug’ in his daily routine. Nevertheless, off he marches every morning to school, feeling like he drank himself under the table the night before. For now, I simply admire his strength but I worry about when he becomes a teenager, how will he find the will to keep concentrating on math, or history or grammar when he mentally becomes aware that he has a choice?
And speaking of teenagers, puberty is a notoriously challenging period for many diabetics, but I will leave this topic for another day, another year even. The underlying point here is that T1D presents enormous challenges both physically and mentally. Both require a bachelor degree level of understanding to deliver optimal short and long term care. Both take place behind the scenes and in front of a crowd but T1D is so massively misunderstood by many (including me before my son’s diagnosis) that raising awareness and understanding is a monumental challenge, but one that many can be proud to be passionate about.