Amber, from Plymouth, is one of our young volunteers for Together Type 1, a programme which offers peer-to-peer support for young people aged 11-25 years old who live with type 1 diabetes.
Here, Amber (pictured, middle) talks about the new National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE) guidance on hybrid closed-loop (HCL) systems.
‘Hybrid closed-loop’ – What’s the fuss?
You may have seen lots in the news recently about new guidelines on hybrid closed-loop systems (HCL). I have been using one since December 2022 and would like to share my experience.
What is a hybrid closed-loop system?
Some people with type 1 diabetes use an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that 'talk to each other'. It does this using a computer algorithm programme through a phone or inside the pump.
There are three parts to a HCL system: a CGM, the algorithm and an insulin pump. My CGM is a small sensor that sits under my skin and it continuously sends my blood sugar readings to my insulin pump.
The algorithm is a computer programme that reads the blood sugar information and works out how much insulin is needed.
The insulin pump automatically releases insulin into my body whenever I need it depending on my blood sugar levels (except for mealtimes when the pump still needs information about how many carbs I’m eating and when I’m going to do very strenuous exercise).
I can confidently say that using a HCL has undoubtedly changed my life.
Why am I hearing about it now?
In November 2023, NICE announced new guidance which will be rolled out across England and Wales over the coming years. It details who will be offered HCL technology.
What does it look like?
There are licensed HCL systems in the UK. Here is a picture of the one that I use.
As you look at the picture, on the left-hand side of my stomach, is the cannula, which is attached to my insulin pump. You can see my pump (the TSlim x2) sat on the right side of my hip. I keep it in a case so that I can clip it onto my waistband for easy access.
On the right-hand side of my stomach, is an oval shaped CGM - I use the Dexcom G6. This particular one, I decorated with a sticker with mermaids on because why not!
I usually wear my Dexcom on the back of my arm, but for photo purposes it was easier to put it on my stomach so that you can see the entire HCL system.
What do I think?
After living with type 1 diabetes for 21 years now, I can confidently say that using a HCL has undoubtedly changed my life.
It wasn’t until I started using the HCL that I realised how much of my life diabetes was negatively impacting. For example, I now sleep through the night and feel so much more rested. It also takes away a lot of the mental burden for me, particularly the minute-by-minute decision making. Using the HCL has given me so much more headspace for life! It’s also helped me to achieve my best HbA1c ever. That was a real ‘pinch-me’ moment.
The HCL system allows me to show up better in many areas of my life; in my relationships, my physical health and at work. I feel so incredibly lucky to have this technology and welcome the latest guidance from NICE.
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