I haven’t participated in the DSMA Blog Carnival in awhile… But this topic resonates with me. Diabetes Gadgets.
Here’s the prompt:
How do you select the diabetes devices you use? To others looking into new or replacement devices, what would be your best advice to someone shopping around?
Brad and I talk about the gadgets and gear that keep me chugging along a lot. There are things that we wish would be different about them and things that we love… as much as you can love medical devices.
The Pump (The Pod)
I’ve said in the past that I love my OmniPod… I don’t really though. I like the control and management I get by being on an insulin pump, but I shocked Brad’s socks off the other night when I said I would switch to a tubed pump if I don’t get the new OmniPod system soon and if I keep having pod failures (My recent failure rate is: 1 in 4 pods during filling or priming) . I followed that up by saying I wished there were more tubeless pumps on the market… I wish I had options. Right now, for someone like me who wants an insulin pump that they can wear, hide and not have tubing to deal with there aren’t options. There’s the OmniPod and… the OmniPod!
Overall it’s a good system even if the PDM looks like a kid’s toy of an old BlackBerry. I did a lot of research but really “found my moving buddy” when we learned about OmniPod. I didn’t want to deal with needles more than necessary, I didn’t want to get tangled in tube and I didn’t want to have to clip something to my clothes all the time.
I found out that OmniPod “wastes” less insulin since there isn’t any caught up in the tube, so I’m saving liquid gold too… Although with my recent string of pod failures and only being able to get at most half of the insulin back from the podds I’m not sure about how much overall I’m saving.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my pod in their research… many go with OmniPod. So many that I wish I could get a commission from Insulet! (Or at least the new system. *wink*wink*)
I learned about CGMs (Continuous Glucose Monitors) from none other than the DOC. Not a single health care professional told me they even existed! I heard/read the most positive reviews for the Dexcom and the rumor was there were integration plans with the OmniPod for the future which seemed great.
As I write this, I miss my CGM more and more. I’m trying to get the new Dexcom G4 Platimum but ran out of Seven Plus sensors while my process is being held up by people who see numbers instead of humans with busted internal organs. My preauthorization for the new system was denied due to lack of hypoglycemia… seeing as how I was using a Dexcom for a year should be proof that it works! I’m extremely angry about this right now and will move on…
Meters are the most basic tool in diabetes care and I have several. One’s pink, one’s green, one’s blue and one is my PDM! I am consistently grateful for modern-day meters and that I never had to pee on strips to see where my glucose levels were… or actually keep a log. Just plug in and download. Neat, clean, easy and especially accurate… in so far as meters are accurate. My first meter was a hot pink One Touch, accompanied by a kid lunchbox kit for newly diagnosed diabetic children. At 22 and not a huge fan of pink, I wasn’t incredibly impressed but I’m happy they didn’t let me leave the hospital without owning a meter.
Now I have the Freestyle Lite in my PDM and a Freestyle Lite back up as well as a “generic” Reli-On meter that has cheap strips that made testing possible when I was on an insurance plan that didn’t cover strips.
Flexpen, SoloStar, etc… Whatever label is actually on it, starting to do injections with a pen is much, much easier than with a syringe. I started with Lantus and Novolog pens and I felt more confident in the dose, knowing I got a whole dose and it didn’t remind me of one of my biggest fears as a kid… NEEDLES. I actually had a dream as a young child (that I vividly remember to this day) of a family friend chasing me with a syringe. Scary.
When I started pumping I had to learn how to use a syringe and occasionally take a syringe injection at mealtimes to keep in practice (because getting prescriptions for pens and vials is probably overkill).
The Phone (The Apps)
I have downloaded and deleted a ton of carb counting, logging and analysis apps. Some are just too intense and others are just too incomplete or inaccurate. I keep a couple of nutrition apps on my phone to help me count carbs, but in the long run… I usually just search the internet. When I had my iPhone (yes, I went to the “dark side” otherwise known as Android and shall be sticking with my HTC One for awhile) I was using Siri to carb count.
This one is two-fold. I’m referring to both my kitchen food scale and my bathroom scale. Weighing some food is just more accurate to calculate carbs than some wild guesses! It’s also helpful in sticking to a recipe and getting an appropriate serving size.
My bathroom scale is pretty helpful in another way… when I was living with undiagnosed diabetes, I lost over 30 pounds… which was actually about a quarter of my body weight at the time. The thing is, we didn’t notice. I weight myself on a regular basis to make sure that I never miss another drastic weight change again. My scale also gives BMI, Visceral Fat, Body Age and other fun things… apparently I’m 19 again!
I manage my health a lot online through the Clinic’s chart system, online appointment setting, claims portals and medical orders. I also do a lot of research on what’s available to me.
But possibly the most important role the computer plays in managing my diabetes is connecting me with you. Finding a community of people living with diabetes and supporting each other was helpful in fighting away depression and knowing that my life was not over when my pancreas died. I like being a part of the community and being able to lend my 2 cents in blog posts and tweets. I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate successes with people and learn their stories. For a born communicator like myself, it’s the best medicine… next to insulin at least.
This is not gear or technology, but I participate in research that I feel can help improve treatment options and education programs. I feel like the gear I use influences those studies because it influences the medical information they get from me. I hope that someday soon (like tomorrow) that will encourage insurance companies to give patients less hassle when it comes to getting coverage for insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors.
This post is my June entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2013/june-dsma-blog-carnival-3/