I have access to subsidised (aka free) CGM and I feel guilty as heck for it. As my diabetes educator signed the forms, the wave of emotions hit me. I was excited, happy, relieved, angry and frustrated. It felt incredibly unfair that I was accessing CGM without cost while others were scraping every dollar to afford these.
CGM is precious. I remember trialing it when I started on my first insulin pump about six years ago now. It was life changing to be able to see what happened in between the finger pricks, to get alerts and see glucose level trends. I was armed with so much data that exercise didn’t seem so daunting anymore and the anxiety around hypos and highs were greatly reduced as well.
While the technology is awesome, the price wasn’t. Currently a Dexcom G5 transmitter is about $500 for three months, each sensor costs about $80 and lasts seven days. The Freestyle Libre sensor is $92.50 plus postage (don’t even get me started on having to pay for postage…). I’m not sure how much Medtronic sensors cost but I’d assume it’s comparable and the last time I checked, they were slightly more affordable on a subscription plan.
Of course, the diabetes community has come up with workarounds to get more bang for your buck with rebatteried CGM transmitters and extending sensors for as long as we can. For us, the benefit of having that continuous data outweighs the risk of infection that comes with extending the sensor.
While we make do with what we’ve got, many people are working in the background to to get CGM and Flash subsidy for everyone with type 1 diabetes (and hopefully for other people with diabetes who will benefit from it too down the track). We’ve come a long way since CGM first came to Australia and there’s still a long way to go.
Thank you to all the organisations and people behind the scenes who have made it possible for me to access subsidised CGM. I promise to pay it forward by donating expired transmitters to be rebatteried and doing what I can to keep advocating to achieve access for people with diabetes who will benefit from it. Out of pure habit I’m still extending my sensors for as long as possible (although the best I’ve done so far is just under three weeks). It’s the least I can do to ease this guilt and to make the most of what I am lucky to have.