We had a lot of 'fun' last Friday. The ice storm in the Northeast took out our power at 4:30 AM. I tried to get back to sleep, but the sound of tree branches cracking and then the THUMP as they hit the ground was hard to sleep through.
The weather was bad enough that school was canceled for the day, and when I called the office they were also without power. So we all got to spend the day together at home.
A big branch, maybe 10 feet long, crushed part of the fence that keeps the goats in place. It also collapsed part of the chicken coop. And there was lots of other debris of various sizes covering the yard. But I wasn't going to go out and try to clear it away when the trees were still making ominous sounds. The branch was sticking up because it was buried in the ground was warning enough.
We were fortunate. A good neighbor helped clear that big branch and some of the other debris. He was happy to take away the hardwoods for his stove. We had power back by bedtime. We'd also been able to use a camping stove (I set it up in the garage) to make essentials like morning coffee and hot water. We used a big fire to keep the first floor warm and lots of small candles to light up parts the house.
But the storm made me think about preparing for emergencies. Some of the town only got power back on Wednesday, and some folks in this region are still without power. Would I be able to manage my diabetes if we lost power for 5 days? And what if we were evacuated and had to go to an emergency shelter?
So because I like sticking holes into my abdomen, here's what the i-port looks like in action. I know the picture is a bit fuzzy. The i-port is on the left of the image; my dexcom receive and pump insert are on the right.
I visited my endo last week and I got some i-port starter kits while I was there. I wanted to try it out as if I was really using it for injections. This isn't a full review, more on that later.
Even though this isn't me on the left, it really does work like this. I'm using standard insulin syringes with a 28-gauge 1/2" needle, and I've had no pain when injecting with it. I'm doing this 4-5 times a day (and I am using saline).
One really nice surprise (for me) is that much of the packaging for the i-port is recyclable. The two pieces of transparent plastic are labeled as HDPE (#2).
I'll try and get more information about the i-port for my full review. In the meantime, the i-port people have a FAQ page that you may find useful.
I was at a pumpers support group meeting last month. We listened to a presentation on continuous glucose monitoring from a Dexcom representative, and I was surprised to see she had a pink Dexcom receiver.
It turned out she had a skin for the Dexcom receiver. Apparently Dexcom made a small number of these in pink and blue. I managed to get a blue one from here, and started using it immediately.
I like that it protects the receiver from a certain amount of wear and tear. It does not make it waterproof.
Amalas's comment about the thickness made me measure the skin. It's 1/8" (0.32 cm) thick and weighs about 1/2oz (16 grams). The receiver already weighs 84 grams, so the skin adds almost 20% to the receiver weight.
Dexcom does not sell these at present. But I think they're a great idea (anything is better than black). Why don't device makers realize that we all like to personalize gadgets? Just look at what's available for cell phones or iPods. Heck you can even get laptop skins.
Why not contact your local Dexcom rep (ask your endo's office for a phone number) and tell them you'd like one of these? Who knows, maybe you'll get it in time for Christmas.
And while you're at it, tell them you'd like to see more of these. Personally, I'd pay $10 to make the ginormous receiver look a little better.
(Oh and I'm still waiting on a much smaller receiver.)
Several news sources (including the Washington Post) reported a new analysis that Avandia and Actos may double the risk of bone fractures in women.
This study(PDF) did an analysis of 10 randomized, controlled, trials that evaluated 13,715 people with diabetes who were taking Actos(pioglitazone), Avandia(rosiglitazone), or neither drug. It concluded that these medications reduced bone density in the spine and hips of women. A similar effect was not found for men.
Both of these drugs belong to the Thiazolidinediones class. They are used by people with type 2 diabetes to help control their blood sugar levels.
In an associated commentary(PDF) the Canadian Medical Association Journal asks whether the side effects of these drugs outweigh their benefits. Thiazolidinediones have already been associated with increased risks for heart attack, especially in older adults.
Earlier this year an FDA advisory panel had called for longer term trials of new drugs for type 2 diabetes. Currently these drugs are mainly tested to determine if they help control blood sugar levels.
In the last week I've read two different sources on social networking (AKA health 2.0). Together they beg the question: will your health improve if you use social networking to become part of a larger community?
What is social networking?
According to the Health 2.0 blog, it's "the use of social software and light-weight tools to promote collaboration between patients, their caregivers, medical professionals, and other stakeholders in health".
The first source was an article in Business Week magazine Health 2.0: Patients as Partners talks mostly about PatientsLikeMe and how members there are sharing details on their medical conditions to try and determine better ways of treating them. It points out
PatientsLikeMe and a proliferation of similar startups are building a new business predicated on the belief that the wisdom of crowds of patients will bring insights, solace, and most of all, power.
Power because, as it turns out, patients talking among themselves on a global scale with complete transparency produces all kinds of unexpected results. Drug side effects can be reported to regulators by the patients experiencing them, without waiting for the manufacturers to come forward. Pharmaceutical companies can use social networks to recruit subjects quickly for clinical trials, speeding up the pace of research. For that matter, patients can simply band together and run their own clinical trials, leaving drug companies and physicians out of the loop.
Do social networks bring about positive behavioral change?
Is there a role for insurance companies in this conversation, or is this level of mis-trust so high that they should just stay out?
My experience after many years with diabetes is that anytime several people get together to share experiences and frustrations we all benefit from it.
These may be small things, like suggestions for exercising while on insulin, or using new sites for placing an insulin pump infusion set, or testing blood sugar.
But engaging with others who are going through the same health challenges can produce much bigger results like: persuading Disney to pull an episode of Hannah Montana because of how it portrays life with diabetes; or changing laws to help protect the rights of those using insulin to drive or pilot planes.
What's your experience with social networking sites?
Have they helped you improve your diabetes control, or your quality of life with diabetes? Which sites have helped you the most? What is missing from these sites?
And if you have found some that work for you, do you think you'll continue to use them?
The Diabetes Technology Blog is focused on using technology to live life to the full with diabetes. I review new diabetes technology including: blood glucose monitors; continuous glucose monitors; blood sugar meters; diabetes software and living with diabetes.
I was born in Ireland and now live in the US.
I have had Type 1 diabetes for over 36 years. I struggle with my blood sugar, the same as most people with diabetes.
I wear a Cozmo 1800 insulin pump and a Dexcom SEVEN Plus CGM to track my blood glucose levels.
I'm blessed by God, and every day brings the possibility of a cure.