Tag: insulin pump

The Next Big Thing – Medtronic Diabetes 670G Hybrid Closed-Loop System

The Next Big Thing – Medtronic Diabetes 670g Hybrid Closed-Loop System

By Allen Lightcap


This Halloween, I will be commemorating my 27th year since being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  I am now 38 years old and until recently had never imagined what it might be like to live without diabetes, or to get some relief from this relentless disease.

I have run the gamut of available therapies with mixed results – multiple daily injections of a long lasting insulin coupled with a short term insulin for meals was the only option I had heard of until I was introduced to insulin pump therapy in 1999.  There was a lot of freedom gained simply moving from injections to the pump, and improved control in my A1C.  From there, I continued upgrading to the latest and greatest insulin pump and then introduced a continuous glucose monitoring system 4 years ago.

Being able to monitor in relatively real time what my blood sugar was, watch it trend upwards or downwards, and receive alerts in advance of these adverse trends was another step in freedom from the daily grind.  But even with the best in insulin pump therapy and CGMS, I was still relegated to helplessly watching the trends after I had made a “bad” decision – either a few slices of pizza which was pushing my sugar up, or an unplanned bike ride with my kids that was now dragging my sugar down.  Why should an attempt at a normal life be a “bad” decision?

I’m sure most, if not all, Type 1 Diabetics have felt this helplessness from time to time.

There have been days on end for me for which I could not get my glucose to come down to a normal range, and many a day that no matter how much I ate I could not keep it above 80 mg/dl for any length of time.  With all the evolutionary changes to my diabetes therapy, I was still required to tweak my basal levels and decide on a regular basis how much this meal, or that exercise, would impact my blood sugar.  And God forbid I get it wrong – then I would need to readjust and think about how to modify with an additional bolus, or extend my temporary basal level.

Recently, Medtronic Diabetes introduced their 670G insulin pump, which they hailed as the first “hybrid closed-loop system.”

It is the first commercially available system in the United States to use CGMS data to automatically adjust the basal levels delivered to the patient.  I had upgraded to their 630G system at the end of 2016 and was a candidate for their rollout of this new approach, and because I generally like to upgrade my insulin pump (and iPhone) when a new one is available, I signed up.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect much to change with my control or my life with a system taking over just the basal rates, but I viewed it as the next evolution in insulin pumps – eventually moving to a fully closed loop system which would also calculate meal time boluses and include onboard glucagon (aka artificial pancreas).

Attending the training classes, I had many questions about how the pump would account for the things that tripped me up the most, like the pizza or bike rides.  I had been in control of my insulin pump for 18 years, adjusting those basal rates like a boss, and no microprocessor was going to effectively take that away from me.  Giving up that control and letting the system do its thing was one of the most difficult transitions, as visions of bottoming out in the middle of the night, or in the middle of an important meeting, danced in my head.

In my 2 weeks on the new system, I noticed an immediate change in the amount of time I spent above 180 mg/dl, the high limit of my normal range.

My diabetes educator sat down with me for my first review, and I was surprised to see the stark difference in glucose trends.  Prior to starting on the 670G system, I was only spending about 34% of my time in a target range of 80-180, with the remainder of that time generally spent suffering through or recovering from a post meal spike up to 250 or 300.  I had learned to cope with this fatigued, nauseous feeling and my A1C was not in a terrible range, and I would rather have a higher post meal spike than to deal with a low.

My first 2 weeks on the Medtronic Diabetes 670G system I had more than doubled my time in range to 74%, and I could really feel a noticeable difference.

No longer was I plagued with the chronic fatigue that accompanies those high blood sugars.  I didn’t worry about a low blood sugar because the system will react (to a point) to your sugars trending downward and will reduce the basal insulin delivered.  And the biggest difference for me was the aggressiveness with which I approached my meal time boluses.  I had been living in fear of a low, and would consistently under bolus, causing the continual spikes and corrective boluses to get back into range.  I now approach my meals much more realistically and find that I am now appropriately bolusing, knowing that if I miss the mark a bit the system will adjust.

What it won’t do is pick up all the slack if you under bolus or miss a bolus entirely, or if you take way too much.  Those dangers are still real.

The Medtronic Diabetes pump is continuously adjusting my basal rate to target a glucose of 120 mg/dl, but will only adjust so far.  It also allows me to input a temporary target of 150 if I am going to be doing some strenuous activity.  But leveraging this new system has given me a tremendously increased sense of freedom to live my life on my terms, pizza and bike rides included.

Ironically, giving up control to the machines has actually made me feel more in control of my diabetes than I have felt in the preceding 27 years.  Is the system perfect?  No.  I still have to do many of the same things I have had to do for years, such as calibrating a sensor, changing an insertion site, and dealing with the occasional high or low blood sugar.  But the highs and lows are less frequent, and more manageable.  And they are generally explainable as “whoops” moments where I didn’t properly perform the carb counting guessing game in my head.

What has dramatically improved is a reduction in the unexplainable hours or days with a high or low trend that I can’t do enough to correct.

The flexibility to start working on a home improvement project or hike without adjusting my basal, worrying if the adjustment is enough or too much.  Overcoming my own personal fear of bolusing too much, choosing the lesser of two evils and opting to under bolus and correct later.

These are the incremental improvements in the quality of life I have already experienced. And I am excited for what the next evolution in insulin pump therapy holds.

So much has been promised with a T1D “cure” – a truly closed loop insulin pump/CGMS system, islet cell transplant/implantation, etc. But for now, I am extremely grateful for the freedom this new system brings, and future innovations on the horizon.

Learn more about the world’s first hybrid closed loop system by Medtronic Diabetes.

Have you tried the new Medtronic Diabetes 670g system? If so, leave your opinions below.


You know you're a type 1 diabetic when

You Know You’re a Type 1 Diabetic When

Having Type 1 Diabetes is challenging yet it becomes part of our everyday routine. To the outside world what a type 1 diabetic deals with may seem unimaginable, but to those in the diabetes community we totally get it and can find humor in our everyday lives.

The Best of ‘You Know You’re a Type 1 Diabetic When’

1. You accidentally cut yourself and wonder if you can get enough blood to test your sugar.

2. Explaining to worried teenagers in the public restroom….”I am taking an insulin shot because I am a type 1 diabetic, I’m not a junkie”.

3. When you look at food and see numbers.

4. When your finger tips look like they need blackhead removal.

5. You have a drawer of candy for emergencies.

You know you're a type 1 diabetic when

7. When you’re scooping out the very last scoop of ice cream from the container and haven’t had time to bolus for it yet and your husband comes into the kitchen and wants some and you look at him innocently and say “oh, I’m sorry I just bolused for that”.

8. When you wake up with a test strip stuck to your face.

9. When someone tells you that cinnamon can fix all your problems.

10. You are up all night correcting or being forced fed when all you want to do is sleep.

11. When someone thinks you’re drunk but you are really just low.

12. When the butter compartment in your fridge is no longer used for butter.

Credit: Childrens Diabetes Foundation

13. When your outfit revolves around if it can hold your pump up or not.

14. One day your fasting can be a perfect 77 and the next day it’s 343.

15. When your handbag is the size of a suitcase to carry all your diabetes stuff around plus your ‘normal’ stuff.

16. When you have to pee like a race horse in a Kentucky derby.

17. When your mom, in front of everyone says, “baby, you are high!”

18. When you get up during the night going low, invade the goodies cupboard and turn into a complete savage then wake in the morning like you’ve been out drinking too much.

19. When you wanna punch someone in the face but turns out you just need a snack.

20. You have headaches and you think your sugar is really high but you realize its just a normal headache.

You know you're a type 1 diabetic when

22. You’re cramming gummy bears in your mouth while prepping dinner.

23. When you automatically know what your pump is telling you without looking because of the sound it’s making.

24. When you chew open the corner of a juice box for a 3 am crash after losing the straw.

25. Your wallet is empty.

26. When your zombie apocalypse plan involves looting a pharmacy, a cooler, and travel to a colder climate.

27. You are excited beyond words to see a sugar-free line of drinks from Monster Energy.

you know you're a type 1 diabetic when

29. When you tell people you have to shoot up to avoid getting high!

30. You’re excited that you’re blood sugar is low because you really have been wanting to eat. [Fill in the blank with your favorite cheat food].

31. When you get excited from receiving your medical supply shipment in the mail.

32. You pull a pump out of your bra at the dinner table.

33. When you are skilled at giving yourself a shot in a moving vehicle.

34. You buy all the holiday candy for your low “stash”.

35. When you’re the only person in the gym with candy and juice boxes.

36. When someone asks you for your phone number but you give them your blood sugar number.

you know you're a type 1 diabetic when

38. When insulin is LIFE.

39. When you blame being in a bad mood on your sugar being high.

40. Your worst and best subject is math.

41. When you have to eat before you go out to eat.

**Comment with your favorite ‘You Know You’re a Type 1 Diabetic When’


you know you're a type 1 diabetic when

Daily Thoughts Of a Person With Diabetes

Daily Thoughts Of a Person With Diabetes

My day to day life revolves around diabetes. As much as I like to tell myself that it doesn’t control my life, to a certain extent it does. I forget sometimes how often I think about my diabetes, from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep it’s on my mind.

Here are some of my daily thoughts with diabetes:

Just waking up I check my blood sugar, it’s 163. Okay, how much insulin do I need to inject to bring it down slightly and to be able to eat breakfast?

Do I have enough insulin? How long until I run out? Am I due for a refill soon? How much will my insulin cost when I go to pick it up? Will I be able to afford this?

My CGM (continuous glucose monitor) is beeping a low alarm. How low is it? What should I eat or drink? How much should I eat or drink to bring it back up to a safe number?

I want to go out to lunch this afternoon. How many test strips should I bring? Do I have enough insulin in my insulin pump or should I change it prior? What if my blood sugar drops too low or goes high? Do I have enough snacks? Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

I’m eating dinner. How will this meal affect my blood sugar? Did I bolus? Will the insulin I gave myself prior be sufficient enough? What if I miscalculated? Will I need to correct?

Credit: Type 1 Diabetes Memes

I’m out of the house. My blood is low and I’m not feeling well. Do I tell everyone around me? Where can I sit down and take care of my diabetes? Why are people staring at me?

My blood sugar is high. Why is it high? I did everything that I normally do but my blood sugar won’t come down. Why do I feel so sick? Should I test my ketones? Should I go to the ER? Could it be DKA? Why is diabetes so frustrating?

Just put a new insulin pump site on. Is it on correctly? Why is my blood sugar rising? Could the cannula be bent? Should I take it off and put on a new one? I would hate to have to waste a site if it’s fine.

It’s midnight and my blood sugar is low. What should I eat? How long before my sugar rises? I hope it comes up soon because I’m tired. What if it doesn’t rise and I fall back asleep?

I’m working out and my blood sugar is dropping. Should I stop my workout? Should I eat something and continue working out? Should I disable my insulin pump?

My blood sugar trends have been wacky lately. Should I change my basal rates? What if I’m just combating hormones or sickness? Should I bolus more for my meals? What adjustment is needed without going too high or low throughout the day?

Packing for a trip. How much insulin should I bring? How will I keep my insulin refrigerated? How many infusion sites, sensors, lancets, and test strips should I pack?

Diabetes is demanding and it requires constant attention.

Trying to mimic a pancreas is no easy feat. Everyday I make choices for my health, and those choices have a huge impact on my life. Going over my daily thoughts I have just proves how much work I put into my diabetes, and my life everyday.


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This Is My Life Support, This Is Type 1 Diabetes

This Is My Life Support, This Is Type 1 Diabetes

By: Katharine Orona

Instagram: @this_is_type_1_diabetes | Blog: thisistype1diabetes


10 years ago I was only a few weeks away from having my life turned upside down and changed forever. I was only weeks away from being diagnosed with an incurable disease, one I didn’t bring upon myself, and one I knew nothing about.

I was about to be diagnosed with Type 1 (LADA) Diabetes.

I had been the picture of health. Perfect blood work results at every checkup, thin, and young. I was 26 years old, about to get married, and recently promoted at work. It was then that I thought I had everything under control and everything seemed to be perfect.

I had all the classic symptoms but didn’t know what they meant: extreme thirst, frequent urination, and rapid unexplained weight loss (at 5 feet tall, I went from 106 lbs to 90 lbs in less than 3 months). My doctor knew right away it was diabetes when I went in with my symptoms. I went to the ER, was immediately admitted, and spent 5 days at the hospital.

After that it took me 5 years to come to terms with my disease.

5 years to go through anger, denial, and grief over losing a life I had known for 26 years. 5 years to decide I was ready to start using a different form of treatment, an insulin pump.

I was so resistant to this technology. I saw it as life support, I saw it as a restriction, I saw it as something I would have to conceal and be ashamed about. When I was finally ready and took the plunge, I loved it from day one. To my surprise, it was freeing, not restricting.

life support

It is life support, but I am thankful for it.

However, I still felt the need to conceal it. I dreaded being asked questions about it or having people wonder why I was wearing a pager (90s folks you know what that is). I felt embarrassed that I needed something to live that other people did not. It took a long time to own it.

A few years later when I was pregnant with my son and my doctor suggested a continuous glucose monitor I went through the same feelings all over again. Another medical device? More things that will make it harder for me to pick an outfit that can conceal that too? But, I knew I had to do it so I did.

My son was worth every awkward stare and every question I faced.

These are tools that I use to make my life a tiny bit more normal. They keep me alive. When my son was born 5 weeks before his due date, and I later made the connection, I realized that he was born on the 6th anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis, at the same hospital I spent those first 5 days after diagnosis.

That fateful day in 2007 that I thought was the worst day of my life, turned out to be the best day of my life 6 years later.

Today I can finally say I not only wear my medical devices with pride, I rock them.

And no matter what method of treatment you choose, know that it’s keeping you alive and you are stronger because of it. Feel comfortable with whatever makes you different. Because it makes you YOU.

As Dr Seuss once said: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”


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I've Got 99 Problems And Insurance Is One

I’ve Got 99 Problems, And Insurance Is One

I’ve Got 99 Problems, And Insurance Is One

By: Angela Boeddeker


I’ve been denied by Anthem insurance for a new up to date insulin pump. Anthem states the insulin pump is investigational.. NOT a medical necessity. The Medtronic 670 G insulin pump would allow me to live a little less stressed.. Help me sleep with a little more ease. Let me finally have some confidence in my form of insulin therapy.

I’ve been pumping for a whopping 7 months and if you lived in my home, you would know the TREMENDOUS difference this has made in my life. My A1C has dramatically decreased at every doctors visit since beginning the pump, too, but let’s be honest here, Anthem doesn’t have a clue!

The 670 G insulin pump is the first of its kind. With the ability to adjust and even stop the amount of insulin being released.. Wait for it… WITHOUT ME!

The 670G has a blood glucose target range of 120. Once the also newly upgraded Guardian Sensor 3 detects my BG is declining, it changes the amount of insulin being released so I won’t have to worry about severely dropping below 70 for my insulin pump to suspend itself.

The last 2 words of the previous sentence speak loudly to me, as it should to you. Why on earth would i want to suspend my lifeline? And for that matter, if my insulin pump suspends in the middle of the night, it will not resume for 2 hours on it’s own. (Hello, glucose readings over 300!)

Insurance

Diabetes is the MOST difficult, but ghostly disease ever heard of in my personal opinion. Just because we look ok (unless we are rocking off the usual 3-5 hours of sleep because the blood sugars kept lifting our heavy eyelids with beeps, vibrations and chirps every time our restless minds dosed off to place of no disease) doesn’t mean we feel ok.

Why limit a person from receiving any possible chance of living a more balanced and enjoyable life?

The Medtronic’s 670 G news was a tearful article to read—happy tears though. I truly thought, ” Angela, this may be your way to live a little more like the rest, a chance to battle with the best, and its about time you got this off your chest”.

So, here’s looking at you million and one insurance companies, dig a little deeper to the reasons for our submissions of countless claims, repeated phone calls and an abundance of emails. We just want to live a long, non medically consumed life! Not to mention a just a good night’s rest!



 

This Disease Is a Catch 22 - Pay The Price Or Pay With My Life

This Disease Is a Catch-22: Pay The Price Or Pay With My Life

This Disease Is a Catch-22: Pay The Price Or Pay With My Life

By: Kayla Bushue

 

Almost 15 years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune, incurable disease.

I’ve been pretty lucky thus far. I didn’t take care of myself early on or really anytime; except for during my pregnancy and the time I’ve had my insulin pump. But I did some number crunching tonight just for funsies.

Per month BEFORE insurance the cost to keep me on planet earth is $1,353.37. That’s for insulin, infusion sets, and test strips alone not including hospital stays due to DKA. Now insurance foots a lot of that bill which I’m thankful for.

Credit: Kathy Austin

But why when I live in one of the top countries in the world does it cost me $16,240.44 per year to stay ALIVE???

I understand there are places that don’t have access to the healthcare that I have. Don’t get me wrong I’m grateful I have access to insulin, my pump, and test strips that keep me here everyday. I also understand the older I get the more complications I will have due to this terrifying and one day terminal disease.

But here is my perspective.

I pay a hefty chunk of change to keep myself thriving, OR I skimp by on the bare minimums and deal with the complications. This disease is a catch 22 – pay the price or pay with my life.

Credit: Kathy Austin

Something about having a disease like this doesn’t seem right. I either pay for my medicine or I don’t and deal with the death sentence. I just don’t get it.

In February my approximate cost over the last 15 years is $243,606.60. It’d be nice to have 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish in my driveway; rather than that almost quarter of a million going to keeping me alive.

Here is where you can learn more about the cost of type 1 diabetes, how to get involved, and how to help protect our rights for affordable healthcare.



 

Navigating type 1 diabetes and learning along the way

Navigating Type 1 Diabetes and Learning Along the Way

Navigating Type 1 Diabetes and Learning Along the Way

Monica Westley, PhD

Here is my story about our daughter Allison, and the incredible lessons she has taught us. We have always been a family of explorers and adventurers, readers of books and lovers of nature. We encouraged our kids to learn as much about the world as they could. Still, until four years ago, we like so many others, knew very little about type 1 diabetes.

Allison had been losing weight (but growing taller) thirsty (but it was hot here in SoCal) and then began to have flu symptoms. On the second day of the “flu” (DKA) we brought her to her pediatrician. I asked “Could this be high blood sugar”? The pediatrician said, “Oh its very unlikely but why don’t you go to the ER, we don’t have a way to measure that here!”

At the ER, our daughter was lying down, super sick, yet still we had to ask that she be seen several times. We waited for over 3 hours, along with those who were waiting to be seen for a common cold. Finally, in the back, the young doctor sampled her blood with the glucometer and turned to me. “Your daughter has type 1 diabetes. It’s a life long condition for which there is no cure. You will be taken by ambulance to the Children’s hospital where you will learn how to live with this.” And so began our journey.

Initially, its all a blur. You’re thinking,” Ok I think we can fix this if….”. Then you realize there is no way out of this condition, and you must move forward as a family. You start to learn all you possibly can about it and how to optimize blood sugars. For the first 2 years we checked her every night at 2am, and more if her blood sugar didn’t settle down.

Then came the advent of Nightscout, which was a group of amazing parents who hacked into the existing technology to allow the blood sugars to be visualized by parents. Quickly, Medtronic and Dexcom responded with their own “version” of Nightscout. The ability to see Allison’s blood sugars on our phones by our bedside and to be alarmed if she came out of range was invaluable. Our rattled nerves could settle a bit. Now she could go overnight with friends, and that was a freedom gained!

Then we learned about TYPEONE Grit, a low carb, high protein way of eating (WOE) endorsed by Dr. Richard Bernstein, and followed by many. Google him, he’s amazing. This WOE was not recommended by our pediatric endo or the CDE in the hospital, but it was an amazing and invaluable resource and has helped keep her blood sugars much more stable. Another win!

Finally, after she was experiencing many undiagnosable “Highs” I began to search for an answer. Allison uses the Medtronic pump, and I asked our endo to change her from the plastic cannula in the MIO quickset to the SureT needle. Their feeling was that she didn’t really need it. However, when I pressed they changed it. Almost immediately, she was in better control. Yet another win!

From all these experiences we learned, when your child has Type 1 diabetes, you MUST continually be your child’s advocate, you must be proactive, you must keep searching for new advances and ways of doing things. At times you will be exhausted, sad, maybe on your knees, but don’t lose faith! This disease will unexpectedly teach you many things.

What else did we learn? We learned that Allison has an amazing spirit! At times, diabetes dampened her spirit, but it’s ember has never gone out. Her capacity for resilience, tenacity and resourcefulness has grown stronger with every year.

What has she done since her diagnosis? Allison has been class president, homecoming queen, a runway model for JDRF, raised over $20,000 for JDRF. She has worked in a type 1 diabetes research lab at Harvard, started a Hands on Science program at a local underprivileged school and kept it going every week for 3 years, received the Presidential Service Award, National Honor Society recommended, straight As, Cum Laude Society, Peer Mentor leader, started her company Mermaid Medicine, acted in the school musical, created her column “In Someone Else’s Shoes”.

She was named “19 under 19 to watch” and completed 4 years of high school varsity sports. She currently runs the fastest mile on the track team. Allison has also recently been accepted to USC (Merit Scholar) and to Harvard. Right now she is preparing to go on a 2 week wilderness adventure off the grid in the Sierras where she will be the only person with T1D.

Pretty cool, right?

People say, “She makes it look so easy”. And she does. I do want to tell those on “the outside of diabetes” just don’t forget that behind it 24/7/365 she is walking the tightrope of blood sugars. It requires strength and grit. She is strong and most importantly, she is kind. Because of all she deals with in her own diabetes realm, her compassion muscle is very strong. She even gives those like our current US Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who think there’s one type of diabetes, and judge those who have it, compassion.

Heres what I would share to the “newbie parents”. Be your child’s advocate. Trust your gut, you are on the front lines of this with your child. Be proactive. Never stop learning about the disease and new technology, clinical trials, and ways of eating (WOE). Find community. I formed a group called “The Sugar Mamas” we meet for lunch and keep each other sane. Keep an eye on the online community of diabetes: GLU, CGM in the Cloud, CDN and especially TYPEONEGRIT are all important networks with helpful people, many who have great ideas and inspiration. Most are going through what you are going through. Strength in numbers!

Finally, keep your dreams for your child’s success alive. Encourage them to reach. Encourage yourself to stay strong. Play the song “You’re an Overcomer” really, really loud ! Don’t forget to have fun. If one day is terrible, try again the next day. Look for a sliver of humor in the crazy diabetes things that happen. And don’t forget to pray for the day when we all wake up to the front page headline ” A Cure for Type 1 diabetes has been found”.


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Diabetes Won't Stop Me From Living

Diabetes Won’t Stop Me From Living

Diabetes Won’t Stop Me From Living

By: Nickie Eckes

I have type one diabetes. I was diagnosed back in February of 1990, at 5 years old, because my body decided it wanted to wage war upon itself and destroy the beta cells in my pancreas.

I remember going to the hospital, and I remember being terrified and having no idea why all these doctors were “torturing” me. I just wanted to go home with my mom, dad, and brother. They said my blood sugar was over 1000 and I had to stay.

The weeks that followed in the hospital were not fun. I had gotten used to getting up and playing and running on stop. Now I was being told I had to live on a strict schedule, only able to eat a certain amount of food at certain times, along with a shot of insulin to ensure that my blood glucose levels were maintained.

They also informed my parents of a place called Camp Sioux, a camp for kids living with diabetes to go and have a “regular” camp experience, but also learn about diabetes. I loved going and it made me feel not alone because everyone was diabetic, and I made some lifelong friends. The type that understands me when I just need “a minute” or “a snack” and understand all those diabetic jokes that make my stomach hurt from laughter.

I’ve dealt with the highs and the lows of this disease now for over 27 years. I’ve handled people telling me if only I would take better care of myself, I wouldn’t be this sick. I did nothing wrong to get this illness, it’s an autoimmune condition. My body can’t make the hormone insulin, which is what is needed for the simple sugars you get from food to enter your cells for energy.

I have to calculate everything I do in a day, from what I eat, to how much I’m going to be moving, along with stress levels and illness (such as common cold or the flu) just to ensure that my blood glucose level stays within a good range and I don’t pass out due to a low blood sugar, or go so high that I get diabetic ketoacidosis (meaning your body is producing a thing called ketones and those can make you very sick). And what works one day may not work the same the next day.

I had the years of rebellion and not caring what my numbers were. I did the whole I’m gonna die young anyway so who cares. And then I decided, I wasn’t going to let this disease keep me down. My friend calls diabetes livebetes because he says “it won’t stop me from living!”

 

Research has made many amazing developments since then, so much now that newly diagnosed people are being told that not much in their lives has to change; they just need to know where their numbers are and how much insulin flow take for those different numbers. We can even program those numbers into a pump and have it do the dosing for us (although not completely without thought from us).

We now have faster acting insulins that instead of having to wait 30 minutes after taking them to even start eating, we now only have to wait 5 minutes. We have what is called a Continuous Glucose Monitoring system (or CGM for short) that can tell us our levels every five minutes, which helps a lot given it can predict a high or a low before they occur, and we can correct the issue before it becomes an issue.

In fact this year, with any luck, I will get to obtain the new diabetes pump, with the first ever closed loop system on it! Both my doctor (who is also diabetic) and I are rather excited for this and are not so patiently waiting. There’s still always planning and calculating everything. It helps, but it’s not a cure. All of these advancements sound amazing and are fantastic, but it’s still a heavy load to carry.

Diabetes Won’t Stop Me From Living

I will keep fighting. I am strong. I hope to one day be able to say “I used to have diabetes.” And because of all this, I remind myself while I may have diabetes, it does NOT have me.


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Never Be Ashamed For Being Different

Never Be Ashamed For Being Different

Never Be Ashamed For Being Different

Throughout my school years, I hid my diabetes from my peers. I felt embarrassed and ashamed for having a disease that was easily misunderstood. When I went to class I never came fully prepared for a low blood sugar. I wouldn’t check my blood sugar or administer insulin in front of people. If I had to attend to my diabetes, I would do so in the bathroom. The only people aware of my condition was my family (of course) and a few really close friends.

I didn’t want to be treated or viewed differently from everyone else.

It went to such far extremes that I was putting my life at risk at times. Which ironically became even more humiliating when it came down to it. I recall my doctor advising that I should try an insulin pump — which I completely avoided. I didn’t want the looks or stares that came with wearing a device attached to me.

I recall getting teased on one occasion in particular at school when someone saw a insulin syringe in my purse and accused me of taking “drugs”. I simply explained: “no, this is insulin, a hormone that I MUST take everyday to stay alive.

After many years of battling my self-esteem and confidence, the worry of what other people think went away. What it eventually came down to was realizing my health and well being comes before anyone’s perception of me.

I started talking and opening up to more people about my diabetes which then brought on more conversation and ways for me to express myself. I embraced the person I’ve become by sharing what makes me different. Hiding my illness for so long made me feel like a prisoner in my own body.

Now I have an insulin pump and CGM, which I wear proudly. I give myself insulin and check my blood sugars wherever and whenever. And in any given opportunity I try to educate more and more people because I know what it’s like to feel alone and misunderstood.

So this is my way of taking strides to inform the public and let other’s know they’re not alone. And that you should never be ashamed for being different but feel empowered for what makes you unique.


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Taking a break from diabetes technology

Taking Breaks From The Diabetes Technology

Taking Breaks From The Diabetes Technology

By: Randall Barker

My daughter, Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a little over 3 1/2 years ago. Being a diabetic myself, it was a moment that has brought us significantly closer. As she was choosing which glucometer she wanted to try out among the countless choices offered to her by the Diabetes Educator in the hospital, my mind was already working on the technological options that were out there.

Of course, Emma was also thinking about the “tech toys” as well; in fact I recall her asking if she’d get an insulin infusion pump before we even left the hospital. It was her doctor that quickly mentioned that she needed to first learn about insulin injections before moving on to the insulin infusion pump. He told her she would get an insulin pump soon, in fact she got her first pump three short months later.

Emma’s insulin pump is a device that she has seen me wear since she was an infant. The insulin pump is a device that is sometimes mistaken by people as a pager. And to be honest it’s about the size of a pager and is usually clipped to a person’s waist.

The pump houses a supply of insulin and gives the wearer a continuous dose of insulin throughout the day. I often describe it as a small IV unit since most people can relate to what an IV machine does. Emma’s choice for insulin pump was one just like mine. She chose a unit made by Medtronic. Her insulin pump was the latest version available on the market.

The pump also included a CGM or continuous glucose monitor. The CGM is another device that has been around for sometime but has recently become more accessible and readily available. The CGM is a sensor that has a small filament that is inserted just below the skin, where it sits for 3-7 days. The filament detects the levels of sugar in the sub-dermal layer of skin and by translates these levels into a blood glucose level reading. By using this device a person can get an accurate idea of how their glucose levels respond to insulin, diet, and other factors.

After just being diagnosed for a little over 3 months, my now 11 year old daughter had some of the newest and most advanced technology available at the time for diabetics. Along with having this equipment, I was watching an emerging advancement in glucose monitoring via the cloud. There was a group of software engineers that were developing code that would allow the parents to see their children’s glucose readings. They saw a need and after doing some “hacking” to the insulin pump, developed glucose monitoring via the cloud. It was a group that would become know as NightScout.

This idea intrigued and frightened me at the same time. I applauded the idea of being able to see my daughter’s glucose reading anytime. Yet, I was scared to attempt the “hacking” on her pump. I decided that instead of testing it out on her pump I would try it on my pump. Ultimately I was successful, but that led me to a new concern.

Was the gear that was required to “hack” my daughter’s pump and then the added responsibility of the end result really necessary? I decided at that time it wasn’t. Emma was still young in terms of her diabetes diagnosis. I wanted her to develop and be involved in decisions that affected her. With that in mind, we decided at that time cloud monitoring wasn’t for us.

Time continued on, as well as advancements in technology. Some of the medical equipment we used changed and some stayed the same. One such instance was with another CGM that was manufactured by another company other than the one we used.

Taking breaks from the Diabetes Technology

It was called Dexcom and the new system was called the G5. It was the latest at the time and it brought new features that I was thrilled to see. The Dexcom system would not communicate to the insulin pump Emma was using, by that I mean Emma’s current CGM would automatically transmit to her pump the glucose reading it was detecting.

By doing that Emma could just pull out her pump and get a decent idea of where her glucose reading was. The Dexcom required a separate receiver to display the glucose readings. That was until the G5 series Dexcom was introduced. The G5 added Bluetooth functionality which meant now devices such as a mobile phone could be used to display the glucose reading.

Another advantage to this setup was now an app could be loaded on a separate mobile phone that could also be used to display glucose readings. Now we had a great solution to our CGM issue. Emma could see her glucose readings on her phone which just like any teenager, her phone was with her all the time!!!

And now her mother and I could see her glucose reading on our phones no matter where we were. We could be sitting across the room or across the globe. In fact I was recently on a trip in Africa and Emma was back home in Texas; I was still able to see how her glucose readings were.

I must say the medical and technology device advancements for diabetes that I have observed over the years are amazing. They have helped to improve the lives of countless diabetics and their families worldwide. Sometimes though these gadgets can create an unwanted effect.

For instance, one can rely on the tech so much that sometimes they forget the basics or fundamentals. I recall one time when my insulin pump simply stopped working. The manufacturer was great about getting me a replacement, in fact I had it the next day. Those 16 hours without the pump were very long though. I had to retrain myself how to do multiple insulin injections in order to keep from going into DKA.

Other times they can create a level of observation that one could almost compare to being watched by “big brother.” I find myself playing the role of a “helicopter parent” sometimes with Emma. By that I mean that I find myself glued to my phone sometimes following her glucose readings. When those readings start getting out of range I find myself quickly checking in on Emma, to then find out she has already taken action to correct the situation.

I have to remind myself that she needs to experience things firsthand in order to know how to react. There will come a time when Emma is out on her own and she will need the experience to help guide her with her diabetes management. Sometimes we become so “plugged in” with the gadgets that we lose sight of how things are without the technology.

These days I try to include my daughter in decisions that concern her diabetes management. She doesn’t always wear the Continuous Glucose Monitor. I understand that sometimes it does become cumbersome. She does routinely check her blood glucose by performing a finger stick so we at least have an idea of how her blood sugar levels are doing. She likes to take breaks from the CGM though. I do allow it because I want her to take responsibility and be involved in her diabetes decisions.

When it comes to insulin management once she was able to get her insulin pump she has never once looked back on it. I’m not sure she would ever want to go back to multiple daily injections. She does take the occasional injection when her infusion set malfunctions or if there is another reason why her blood sugar levels won’t drop. However, I don’t see her ever taking a break from the pump like she does with the CGM.

The technology that has emerged in diabetes care has exploded in the past decade. Having been a Type 1 for over 25 years I stand back in awe at some of the things I have seen. It’s still nice to remember the basics and to keep those familiar for when issues do arise. I can’t wait to see what new tech options are released in the upcoming years, but I never what to forget where things were when I was first diagnosed.

The technology is fantastic but the facts that one can take a break or even a step back is also great. The trick, I suppose is to never become overwhelmed by what options you have at your disposal.


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