Trickle-me Almo

A few weeks ago, Bianca and I were lost for what to do on a Sunday. We happened to walk past the Melbourne Exhibition Centre (yes, the one of Diabetes Expo fame) and looked inside.

“Health and Wellness Expo”. Pfft.

“Free entry”. Ohh... what the heck. If there was any chance I could improve my health and wellness it would be time well spent. Nothing better to do anyway.

We weren’t particularly surprised by what we found. There must have been about 50 clairvoyants. Healing crystals, dreamcatchers, tarot cards, aromatherapy. I don’t mean to ridicule these things; I think many of them do work, just not necessarily by the principles that the proponents put forward. And that’s OK, because the real principles are so complex and subtle that science is hopeless at describing them.

Of course there are things that are downright dangerous, or nothing more than making money off the gullible. They’re not OK.

Anyway, there was a much wider variety than that, such as saunas, beanbags, gluten-free, massage, and vegan meat (pretty good actually).

I saw someone up ahead holding out a little cup of almond milk, and having recently become an almond milk convert (it tastes like milk but has hardly any carbs! Almonds are like unicorns I swear) I was on the lookout for what was available.

It was good. Really good. So smooth. I had a nice chat with the lovely lady who seemed to know the additives in my previous brand off by heart and sold me on the benefits of this product. I’m not going to repeat the spiel here, as the claims aren’t mine to make. Do your own research. All I claim is that I think it tastes better than other almond milks I’ve tried.

I think they’re going for the “liquid gold” look

It was a pleasure talking with her and she was so convincing that I just assumed she was a salesperson. As it turns out, she actually started the business, because of her own experiences with an autoimmune condition!

It’s called Almo and it’s becoming easier and easier to find. It’s probably cheapest online but it’s stocked at Harris Farm among other places if you want to try some.

I also got to try this Almo Creme stuff which is really nice.

Now, just because Bianca and I like almond milk doesn’t mean you will, but if you’ve never looked into it, almond milk is really low in carbs! But make sure it’s unsweetened.

The adventure

We ordered two boxes of the stuff online, thinking they would last for ages. (But we like it so much, our intake of milky beverages has increased, so they’re going pretty fast.)

We made the order the day before we were due back, thinking it would take a couple of days. Apparently delivery was attempted within a day. We got one of these:

For once we actually weren’t home

Then the drama began. I logged onto the Star Track site, and elected to go and pick the stuff up directly. I was told I would receive a message shortly.

... nearly a week passes ...

While waiting and waiting we eventually got fed up (or rather, dehydrated) and bought a bottle from Harris Farm. Then another.

Anyway, after nearly a week I called up Aus Post. They tell me that my request was submitted but not actioned, and that they would resubmit for me and I should hear back the same day.

The next evening, I called again. This time they put a case worker onto it! I didn’t know they even had those. Apparently the depot in Botany was not responding to the requests and needed someone to get on their back. Fine by me.

Another day passes. I get a very apologetic call from my case worker who explains that she’s in another part of Aus Post in Melbourne and is doing everything she can from where she is, and that she will ramp up the pressure.

Later that day, and over a week after it all started, I got a call saying I can go pick it up. If I can find it. It’s in the most obscure part of an out-of-the-way industrial complex full of trucks. I nearly got hit by a truck when I tried to reverse out of a wrong turn.

Then I got to the depot and waited about half an hour for them to find my package. They were very friendly people. They had trans-friendly posters on the walls. But the delays were ridiculous.

I shouldn’t be so excited about this

My first Almo box!! (Well, two boxes.) Bianca and I are giddy. I know it’s silly. I guess it’s just fun to be part of an adventure.

You can imagine how much I love these puns

Diabetes Expo 2019

Well, I just attended the Melbourne Diabetes Expo. It was a strange combination of rewarding and mildly disappointing. But this wasn’t my first time so let me rewind two years.

I went to the same Expo last time it ran in 2017. As we all know, “diabetes” means “Type 2 diabetes unless otherwise specified.” Naturally, the expo made it clear it was for both types of diabetes. If you try to cater to both, you won’t disappoint the Type 2s, but it’s hard to get it right for Type 1s.

I hadn’t been to a diabetes expo before, but I had a good idea of what to expect. Talks aimed at Average Joes with diabetes. Stands by the usual pharma and biotech companies, showing off their latest products, and other stands promoting diabetic socks, pump cases, and what not. Nothing I hadn’t already found through thorough research on the internet.

But some part of me said, “Don’t be cynical, take a positive attitude. You often learn more than you expect at things like this.” So I went.

To be honest, it was pretty much what I expected. Lots of absolute basics, a large Type 2 focus, sitting through hours of Baby’s First Diabetes, but with the occasional thing that was new, insightful, or rather useful.

Don’t get me wrong about the stands. It was good to actually see and feel insulin pumps and pens and meters in real life. There were some unexpected stands too, like honey pops (useful), type 2 cookbooks (lame), and hearing and eye checks.

Despite the lameness I had to sift through, I felt it was useful. I was disappointed that there weren’t more advanced talks relevant to people with type 1, although I guess it’s to be expected.

But I tried to strike up conversations with other type 1 folks. A lot of them were similarly disappointed, but we clicked, exchanged stories, talked about what we had hoped to see. These weren’t the sorts of cynical people who pollute—er, that is, populate—online Facebook groups. I realised that one of the good thing about events like these was that it was idealists who would be likely to turn up and connect.

Oh, one more thing. I was at a “latest science in diabetes” talk where an audience member asked about the recent developments in inhaled insulin. The presenter said something along the lines of “well yes but I think we’re likely to see better results from the real science.”

I had to. I just had to grab the mic and say that actually I was using inhaled insulin and if anyone wanted to talk to me after the session I’d be happy to. The presenter was furious. A number of people came to talk to me later and were very interested and supportive.

In the end I was glad I went.

Two years later

So it’s 2019 now. Not much has changed. I went to the talk about low-carb eating hoping to get some gems on how to bolus, some recipe ideas, and how to manage eating out. Unfortunately all I got was a definition of the low carb diet, a comparison with the “recommended” food pyramid diet, and some studies showing that there was not much to show. Some of that stuff was interesting, I suppose.

Everything just has that tone of “mildly disappointing but kind of worthwhile.”

Except the talk about research. Now that was interesting. I had always thought that SGLT2 inhibitors must have some side effects. Wouldn’t they strain the kidneys? Apparently not. The research seems to show they are bloody good for you. Less cardiovascular problems, less kidney problems! In the case of certain kidney patients, there was a 40% reduction in the chance of kidney failure. What. The. Hell.

And there were a few other studies with extremely promising results. One of them (it sounded like “twinulin” but Google says that isn’t a thing) had crazy results for type 1 and type 2 patients. There had also been research into an actual oral insulin that could be absorbed by the gut.

I walked out feeling impressed and feeling there was a significant chance that we were on the cusp of a leap forward in diabetes treatment. However, I felt threatened that the years of blood, sweat and tears I had put into building my diabetes toolbox would be all for nothing if I tried out these new drugs. (Of course, that is a silly mentality. Really I should look forward to difficult, complicated things being thrown away.)

Actually there was also a talk about social media, which was mostly Social Media 101 (as I expected) but there were also a few personal stories that were touching and eye-opening.

OK, well maybe I’m being kind of unfair and the 2019 one was rather better.

The greatest difference between 2019 and 2017 was that “the establishment” was starting to acknowledge matters that people were taking into their own hands. Low-carb diets were acknowledged. DIY artificial pancreas tech was being acknowledged. Afrezza was being acknowledged. BionicWookie was there, as well as many other loopers.

I was better at chatting with people at the stands. I was much less um, stuck-up, than last time. I actually purchased a few things. 🙂

In my defence my hands were shaking

During the diabetes tech panel, someone happened to ask what the new inhaled insulin device looked like. I got all excited (and nervous) and it flew from my hands onto the floor. Way to go, Aleks. Anyway, I held it up and said “it looks like this!”

Then Renza (who was on the panel and has an awesome blog) said “I knew there’d be one in the audience.” (Supportively.)

One of the staff tried to get me over to the mic, but I was resistant. What would I say? I’m not good at off-the-cuff. Eventually I thought of something and went up. The gist of it was, “I’ve tried everything. The most important thing to learn is to know when something isn’t working, and then try something else.” Seemed to be well received.

After the talk I got a chance to talk to Renza. I feel a bit... undeserving—I don’t feel like I’m enough of a big deal for such respected, busy people (not to mention internet-famous) to have time to talk to me. But there you go.

All in all, I was quite happy I went. There are many things I’d like the organisers to improve next time, but I appreciate that it isn’t easy.