Caitlin Gallant wants more people to take control of diabetes like she has

Caitlin Gallant has found a way to take better control of her diabetes, and she'd like other people to have that opportunity.

Gallant, a 23-year-old from Summerside, has Type 1 diabetes. She wants the P.E.I. government to fund new technology that allows blood sugar levels to be monitored continuously or on demand with a cellphone, using a censor worn under the skin.

The system provides much better information than the traditional poking to provide a blood sample that is then analyzed, which only happens four to 10 times a day, she said.

"You're just getting a snapshot in time of that blood sugar information and it doesn't really give you a lot of information," said Gallant.

"When you go to continuous or flash glucose monitoring system you're getting a glucose reading every five to 10 minutes."

Taking control

Managing diabetes requires constant effort, she said. It's not just a matter of taking medication regularly. It's a need to respond to constantly changing blood sugar levels.

"It's given me quite a lot of control, which is huge," said Gallant.

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"I spend, at the end of the day, a lot less time worrying about my diabetes because it's there, I can see it, I can act quickly."

But the devices are expensive. They have only been available for a few years, and cost $3,000 to $6,000 a year to operate. Gallant said because she is a student she is still covered by her parents' insurance, but she argues there are good reasons for government to fund the technology.

"Unmitigated diabetes has very serious long-term health consequences that are very costly," she said.

Filling hospital beds

Diabetes Canada has also been lobbying the province, which is due to release a renewed three-year diabetes strategy by early next year.

Jake Reid, national director of government relations for Diabetes Canada, said while the technology is expensive, a person whose diabetes is out of control can cost the health care system even more.

"About 30 per cent of people in hospital right now have diabetes," said Reid.

"They are there for a whole other bunch of reasons. They're there for cardiovascular issues, they're there for, you know, renal issues, foot ulcers. All sorts of complications that can develop from diabetes."

Even a reduction of one per cent of hospital admissions could save hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Reid. The glucose monitors make it much easier for people to keep their blood sugar in range, he said.

In an emailed statement, the P.E.I. Department of Health said it is looking at all potential options for additional coverage, including monitors, test strips and insulin pumps.

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