Editor's Note: Oooh, this post is so TIMELY, in light of the fact that the LA Times ran a front-of-the-business-section story on widespread doubts about inhaled insulin this weekend. Our gal feels differently. Read on.
Back in October, DiabetesMine.com spoke with Jennifer Haws of Des Moines, IA, pioneer in the use of new inhaled insulin from Pfizer. I made her promise that she'd give us an update after three months, so we could discover if she remained as exuberant about Exubera as she was at the outset. Well so far, so good. Jen now says "I still think that I am the only person in the world on it and it's so great!"
So here's our latest little chat about inhaling vs. injecting and any concerns that might come with it:
JH) I sure am. This has been such a great advancement in diabetes management. It is working great and I love it!
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DM) What about results? How has Exubera affected your mean blood glucose readings and your A1c?
JH) My last A1c was in December and it went down to a 6.7!! Exubera controls the spikes. When I was on shots, I would roller coaster up and down and it would just make me feel horrible. Since starting Exubera, I have not had one day that this has happened. Of course I have had lows and some highs, but no I'm no longer and jumping all around with my numbers.
DM) Any lessons learned? Drawbacks? Or tips and tricks to share with other users?
JH) I have learned that the recommended two-week replacement of the cartridge inside (the filter-like thing) actually works better at a one-week replacement with cleaning. If not, at the end of the two weeks, it seems not to dose as well and gives me higher numbers. So far, no drawbacks. I did get a case for the unit which holds the inhaler and my tester, so that makes carrying very nice.
DM) And socially? Are you still comfortable carrying and using the relatively large Exubera inhaler device in public?
JH) Ah...it's a breeze! I get it out in public, take my dose and am usually done before anyone even notices. If by chance they do, I am more than happy to tell them what it is! Most people figure it for something to do with asthma, so they don't usually bat an eye.
DM) Any concerns about long-term lung damage? (What does your doctor say about this?)
JH) I don't really have too much concern for this. My doctor had me do the regular breathing test required before prescribing. I know that all meds have some sort of side effect or drawback, but so far I have not noticed any change or difficulty. Being able to manage my diabetes so easily and limiting or removing THOSE complications weighs higher as a concern for me.
DM) Lots of people write to me looking for insights on whether they should try inhaled insulin. What would you say to these potential users?
JH) GO FOR IT! As someone who has been on pills, shots, restricted diets......and NOTHING worked for a long-term solution, I would say, TRY THIS! Exubera makes a WORLD of difference. Diabetes is a demon that takes so much of your life to control, having something so simple is an absolute godsend. It makes me feel like I CAN BEAT THIS!
Thanks , Jen, for sharing your enthusiasm. I personally would like another reality check in three more months, because as I learned with my DexCom, there does seem to be sort of a honeymoon effect with new devices: you love them until they become as commonplace and annoying as the older stuff. Let's hope to ping Jen again down the road just to be sure :)