RHIANNON Kellaway has been a diabetic for the past 20 years of her life.
Diagnosed at age eight with Type 1 diabetes, needles to administer lifesaving insulin and checking her sugar levels quickly became a way of life.
But thanks to new technology, the Hervey Bay woman no longer needs to make herself bleed multiple times a day.
There are three very different types of diabetes and Rhiannon suffers from an auto-immune condition in which her body destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin which typically onsets in the juvenile years.
The cause of this auto-immune reaction is unknown.
There is no cure and it cannot be prevented, which means Rhiannon like the other 130,000 Australians with Type 1 just have to learn to live with it.
Now, thanks to the FreeStyle Libre, a circular device that sits injected on the back of her upper arm, Rhiannon can check her sugars as many times a day as she wants without pricking her finger.
The FreeStyle Libre has to be changed every fortnight which is a huge difference from the recommended six finger pricks a day.
Type 1 diabetes sufferer Rhiannon Kellaway with her new blood testing monitor. Alistair Brightman
“This has been around for a few years now and I switched to it last year,” she said.
“It has been a real life saver.”
Technology has progressed in the past two decades and the medical administration officer keeps a box full of her diabetes device history which is overflowing with needles, pens and monitors.
If Rhiannon doesn’t monitor her sugar intake she can pass into a coma state and have a seizure.
However, since the relatively new technology is not covered by top line private health insurance or government subsidy, each fortnightly patch costs $100.
“It’s definitely hard to budget for but we just make it work because it is worth it,” Rhiannon said.
The local is urging the public to sign a petition for the technology to be included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to subsidise some of the cost.
“I know it might not work for everyone but it has made things easier in everything I do from exercise to my job,” she said.
The petition can be found on change.org under “Prime Minister of Australia we need government rebates for this life-saving diabetes equipment – supported by Diabetes Australia”.