Why insulin users aren’t that excited

As everyone knows the approval of Exubera has generated a ton of publicity. In my home town of Chicago, the Tribune ran a front page article above the fold with a banner headline and a picture of the Exubera inhaler the day after it was approved. Nearly every network ran a story on it and from what I’ve heard news of Exubera approval was a page one story in cities across the country.

It seems strange to me that the people I have spoken with who are insulin using diabetics see this as almost a non-event. The general feeling among this group is that injections really aren’t that painful and there are several unknowns about Exubera.

This compares to the non-injecting crowd or people who do not have diabetes, who view the Exubera approval as a major event.

Only time will tell whether or not Exubera will be a commercial success, but I do see one very good results of the approval. It has brought attention to diabetes and if that means someone will ask their doctor about insulin therapy then the Exubera approval could be a great thing. Unfortunately as a group people with diabetes do not receive nearly enough education about their disease. All too often, physicians simply prescribe the meds and fail to refer patients to a diabetes educator.

Left to their own devices some search the internet for answers where finding qualified help is difficult. As I mentioned in a previous post type in the word diabetes in google and there are nearly 90 million hits. Deciding which site is best or qualified can be a daunting task.

Making matters more difficult is that diabetes effects no two people exactly the same way.

Information for diabetics

My hope is that through this blog we can share with each other and lead others to sites, books or publications that have been particularly helpful.

Information is a valuable resource, however to much information can lead to information overload. This is particularly true when it comes to diabetes and the internet. There are thousands of web sites and blogs devoted to the subject of diabetes. Type in the word diabetes on google and almost 90 million hits come up. Think about that for a moment.

Besides the internet, there are several magazines devoted to diabetes and even a cable television show.

Finally, add in all the pieces of information handed out by physicians and educators and it’s easy to understand how someone with diabetes can feel overwhelmed.

That’s one reason I started this blog. I strongly believe that people with diabetes are the best sources of information when it comes to actually living with the disease on a daily basis. I do not pretend to be an expert on drugs or therapies but feel I can help someone who has questions about what it’s like to live with an insulin pump or test glucose levels multiple times each day.

I also feel I can learn from others who experiences vary from my own. To me this is what this blog should be about, helping each other.

As everyone knows by now the FDA approved Exubera, the inhaled form of insulin. Although it won’t be available until later this year I see Exubera as the perfect example of what this blog is all about. For those of us who have diabetes and are on insulin therapy we understand that insulin therapy involves more than just injecting or in my case pumping insulin into our bodies. Being a pumper I test my glucose levels anywhere from 5 to 7 times each day. Before I bolus I use my PDM to determine how much insulin I need at mealtime. (For those you unfamiliar with the term PDM it stands for Personal Diabetes Manager which is the main engine that controls the OmniPod.) Before each meal I test my levels and enter the expected carb intake, the PDM then determines how much insulin I need to stay within my target range. I can either accept the recommended insulin dose or adjust it.

Glucose levels

Yet glucose levels and counting carbs is just part of the equation. Factors such as stress, exercise and even the weather can affect how my body reacts to insulin. Simply put, unlike people taking pills those of us on insulin have more work to do.

While I believe that inhaled insulin is a good thing for people with diabetes, I’m skeptical that patients will receive the proper education need before beginning insulin therapy. Having experienced several hypoglycemic events in my life I am all to familiar with what can happen if you make a mistake and take too much insulin.

With so much attention focused on Exubera by the main stream media I’m curious how patients new to insulin therapy will handle the additional work load. Patients may not have to inject themselves but taking insulin without measuring glucose levels or understanding carb intake can be very dangerous.

Curious what you may think. I await your comments.