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Campaigning for equal access to tech: Mark’s story

Mark Langland

Mark Langlands

It seems a nonsense that some parts of the country led the way while others were so behind. Everyone should have the same opportunity regardless of where they live.

Mark Langlands, 63 from Norwich is a retired Communications Manager. He has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was 18.

Mark has a Free Style Libre 2 on prescription which he finds helps him stay on top of his testing. Mark said: “The older I’ve got, I’ve found my sugars more difficult to control, but I always try my very hardest to be in the green zone before I go to bed. Sometimes diabetes insists on having the upper hand and I think people can’t get too upset about it. You just have to accept there will be good and bad days and keep at it.”

Campaigning for access to tech

Before getting his Libre on the NHS, Mark self-funded, and it was costing him about £100 a month. He now would like to get an insulin pump to manage his diabetes without multiple injections, but doesn’t meet the criteria.

Mark explained: I don’t expect to receive a pump until the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issues an order about it, in which case I will start campaigning for it. I think equality of access is key. When the new NICE guidelines for Libre/Dexcom came out and my local NHS was slow on the uptake, I started a little campaign using contacts in the media to get that changed and it worked!"

Recently, Mark was diagnosed with Graves Disease and is looking to see if that changes his eligibility for a pump. He has been very aware of NHS issues and is more concerned about access to diabetes care: “The number of hospital appointments each year has been reduced to one and probably like many people, I feel very distant from the hospital team. I think the care has deteriorated slightly probably due to sheer weight of patients. You only get a few minutes with a doctor a year."

I think everyone living with type 1 diabetes should use whatever voice they have to press the case for greater investment. It could be backing diabetes charities, writing to MPs, collaring councillors on the doorstep when they ask for your vote or even speaking up among friends. I strongly believe that if we don’t ask, we won’t get.

 Diagnosis in the 1970s: Life before diabetes tech

Of his type 1 diabetes diagnosis at 18, Mark said: “I had just started a college course which involved me getting a train into London, but I realised there was a problem when I couldn’t cross the bridge at the station without stopping for a rest. A few days later one of my parents’ friends came to our house and she screamed when she saw me lying on the couch dozing as she thought I looked like a skeleton due to losing so much weight. I was then put in the care of West Hill Hospital in Dartford but treated at home by district nurses initially and then outpatient appointments.”

The treatment of diabetes in the late 1970s was very different. “My mum was given a yellow book by the dietician saying what time I could eat and how much, which we followed religiously. I think I have her and my wife’s unstinting support to thank for my relatively untroubled life so far. There were no blood tests at home in those days, diabetics had to test their urine for sugar. If it turned blue, you were ok.” Mark added.

Living with diabetes today

Mark is a season ticket holder at Norwich City. To keep fit, he jogs and gets involved in sports and social activities. He also has a busy family: “My wife and I look after our granddaughter, who is two, two days a week which is hard work enough for me these days!” All of that and campaigning for diabetes tech is keeping Mark well occupied through his retirement.

Join Mark is supporting our campaign: #DiabetesTechCantWait.

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