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.*
And 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! I 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.