Oh, the Technology!

I may have been quiet, but while I was holed up with my wee Magpie this past  fall, I spent a lot of time on Facebook. And it seemed like every time I pulled up my timeline, along with cheesy “Repost if you like baby dogs!” updates and stomach-turning political missives, there was a new piece of diabetes technology staring me in the face.

Most of these tech pieces were Dexcom G4 CGMs. My Facebook friends shared pictures of boxes full of new sensors, shots of high-tech display screens, updates on how long each sensor was lasting and how great the radio frequency range was. Some d-friends post pictures of their blood glucose test results on various machines, just to see (and show) how much they can vary from device to device. There’s the meter with the back-lit screen and the friendly reminders, the meter that doubles as a USB drive and automatically uploads blood sugar data to your computer. There’s a meter that connects to your iPhone and a meter that delivers Civil War trivia alongside your blood sugar results.*

verucaAnd I’m not sure if it was the postpartum haze or a lack of real contact with the outside world, but seeing all those terrific gadgets nurtured deep feelings of envy and inadequacy in my insulin-starved soul. I felt like a diabetic Veruca Salt: “But Daddy! want a meter that communicates in conversational English!** I want one now!”

Never mind the fact that I’m attached to thousands of dollars of very sophisticated diabetes management technology that I’m not even using to its fullest potential. I was thrilled to open up my brand-new Revel a few months ago, but I’ve barely glanced at the accompanying guidebook that details all the fancy new upgrades I should be enjoying. All it takes is a few glitches with the Java settings on my computer to discourage me from uploading the weeks of blood sugar patterns stored in my CGM. And I’ll be damned if I can conjure up the energy to change the battery in my OneTouch UltraMini.

All this while there are people out there who can’t even get their hands on a reliable supply of insulin.

Just like  it can with everything else in life, technology has a way of complicating the hell out of the relationship I have with diabetes — both physically and emotionally. There’s almost too much access to information, and then there’s more guilt when I’m not using it the way I feel I should be. And then there’s the green-eyed ogling of my friends’ new doohickies.

What’s vital, I’ve decided, is not conflating the possession of technology with the successful management of diabetes. Instead, it’s best to do the most with what we have, whether that’s a syringe and a bottle of insulin or an insulin pump that lights up the night with warnings and whistles and psychic tendencies. That’s because no piece of diabetes management technology is any smarter or more effective than the person using it, right? Without a user to calibrate and set blood sugar thresholds and do basal tests, an insulin pump is just an expensive little brick.

So, I’m committing myself to contentment. I’ll tweak what I have. I’ll finally go through the Revel owners’ manual. I’ll remind myself that, as jealous as I can get about the longevity of Dexcom sensors, that receiver is still an extra thing to carry around, and that’s not something I want to deal with now. I’ll appreciate the technology behind every “beep” and “boop” that reaches my ears.

I’ll direct all my jealousy toward the people with the spiffiest technology of all: good old-fashioned pancreases.

*Not really, but I’d appreciate it if Bayer or Johnson & Johnson could start working on that.

**I actually have one, but my insurance company won’t cover the strips. I know, I’m shocked, too.

One Thing to Improve: Emergency Preparedness

Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at.  Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

Here’s a reassuring thought: if my trusty insulin pump were to give out right this minute — for any reason: water, trauma, old age, spontaneous combustion — I would have no idea what to do. I have no emergency plan, and that is something I definitely need to work on.

Maybe I’ve grown too trusting of this tiny robot on my hip. In the last 12 years that I’ve used the pump, I’ve only had one real malfunction, and looking back, I don’t even remember how I dealt with it. I’m sure I got on the horn with Minimed and used syringes until my new pump arrived in the mail (which is always ASAP — thanks Minimed), but I don’t recall any details.

And that’s a problem. Were my pump to die this instant, here are the steps I would follow:

  1. Curse. A lot.
  2. Complain on Twitter and Facebook, beseeching the input and wisdom of the ever-present DOC.
  3. Curse some more.
  4. Call my CDE for advice.
  5. Leave work to go home and curse.

There’s no long-acting insulin in my refrigerator, and all the syringes I have are ones that I inherited from my friend Tammy when her diabetic cat went to eat cupcakes in the sky. Worst case scenario, I figure, I’ll just stay close to home, snort cinnamon and jog in place as much as possible.

Of course, I’m assuming everyone else has a holy-shit-my-pump-broke plan, or something resembling one. What does it look like, and where do I get one?

Diabetes Art Day: Pumpy

Okay, okay. Technically it’s Diabetes Art Night, but I haven’t had time to post my masterpiece today.

I love the idea of Diabetes Art Day. I feel like I have tons of dorky art projects trapped inside my head, but I never have the energy, time, or prompts to complete them. Also, I spend at least 40 hours a week surrounded by some of the most talented artistes in the Southeastern United States — enough to make any girl shy away from a public art project.

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to incorporate googly eyes into my project, so I asked my coworker Caroline to grab some for me on a trip to the craft store. She did — and the next day, Pumpy was born.

Pumpy on a Park Bench. (I know it looks like he peed, but he didn't; a rainstorm had just passed.)

I had grand plans for Pumpy in a series of dioramas, but as soon as I gave him his eyes, it seemed like . . . enough. I went around a few days with the eyes stuck on the pump, and each time I made move to bolus or check in with the CGM, it was a pleasure to see lil’ Pumpy gazing back at me.

Then I let him venture out.

Here he is climbing a tree:

Waiting for the Mockingbirds.

And here he is getting all pissed off because he’s full of insulin and the Cupcake Store is closed:

Pumpy 3

Pumpy wants Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting.

He came in and watched the DVR’d episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion, Part 1:

Pumpy 4

"I don't know . . . this Danielle character seems like a nice enough gal . . ."

And here he is admiring all of the other Diabetes Art Day submissions:

Pumpy 5

Pumpy's inspired by everyone's art, but can't make any of his own. He doesn't have any arms, see.

You bet your ass I’m leaving those googly eyes on. I like feeling like I have this piece of “art” that comes with me wherever I go. It’s a constant reminder of Lee Ann’s Diabetes Art Day, everyone’s wonderful art projects, and the DOC as a big, happy whole.

PWD Seeks DWPs (Dresses with Pockets)

Like tons of other DOC folks, my first foray into the Magical Internet world of People With Diabetes came as I sought the answer to one crucial question: How the Hell Do I Wear This Pancreas on a String With a Dress?

And though, fortunately, that question brought me to Six Until Me, I’ve still not found the answer I’ve been looking for. When I got married, I used some kind of Velcro thigh contraption to hold my pump, and spent the last 3 hours of my reception hiking the thing up. In the winter, I turn to Spanx to keep my guts — and my MiniMed Paradigm 712 — in check. They work well.

But now? Now it’s practically summer in Florida, and I’m at a loss. I tried to sport the Spanx-and-Sundress combo at the local Farmers Market last Saturday, and was thisclose to stopping in front of the strawberry stand to rip the things off, Incredible Hulk-style. I’ve spent the last 10 summers in capri pants and jeans (I kind of hate shorts, for the most part), and I’m not going to do it again.

Of course, the ol’ Pump-Between-the-Boobs trick is always available, but the outcome is always highly dependent on the style of the dress and how comfortable I am materializing a piece of equipment from my cleavage every half-hour or so.

I was thumbing through the latest Land’s End catalog at my in-laws’ place just the next day, and was super-excited about a couple of pocket-y skirts and dresses. Right now I’ve got this number in my cart, and want this for my birthday.

In the meantime, is there anything else I can do? Will I ever be able to run through a field of waist-high sunflowers in a breezy white number, my hair blowing in the fragrant breeze and my husband waiting to embrace me in the soft-focus sunshine, carefree? Can I at least sit on a porch in mid-June and bolus for a Sierra Nevada without having to dig between my boobs first?

I know it’s not a new concern, but it’s what’s on my mind lately when it comes to summer dresses. Well, that and my ongoing phobia of exposing my upper arms — but that’s another story for another day.