50 years of historical gratitude

I was diagnosed in 1972, and yes, this year celebrated living 50 years with diabetes. The celebration included Joslin’s 50 year medal and a dinner out with the husband. Often, when I speak to audiences of people with diabetes or health professionals, I say living so long with diabetes has given me historical gratitude. I almost feel badly for those relatively newly diagnosed who don’t have it and can only feel the heartbreak of getting this disease.

I am well aware I didn’t have to boil and sharpen syringe needles like the people who came years before me. The insulins I used during my first two decades required lots of planning, when to take them, the long hours they lasted and when they peaked. Then you had to match your eating to all that. Inevitably, you were feeding your insulin. My mother still begs me to take food with me when I leave her home and head for my two hour train ride home. Today’s insulins, and certainly insulin pumps, have liberated us from this.

If you use an insulin pump, they came along in the early 1990s. Apparently the first one was the size of a back pack. There is a photo of it floating around online. Insulin pens were launched around the same time. Personally, I’ve always been on MDI (multiple daily injections) and my basal pen, Tresiba, is a breeze to use. I tend to use a vial and syringe for my rapid-acting insulin because sometimes I want a third or a quarter of a unit and manufacturers obviously haven’t found any cost benefit to create such a pen.

And I surely never could imagine while I was poking my fingers round the clock every day, that one day I could wear a tiny device (CGM) that would tell me my blood sugar every five minutes, and whether it was going up or down, or not, and how quickly. Or that we’d have smart pens or an insulin pump and CGM that operate together, or looping created by people with diabetes?

Whether you’ve had diabetes, like me, for decades, or are new to the game, seeing how much our medicines, knowledge and devices have improved over the decades, can lift your spirits. I know it does mine.

Dexcom Clarity App’s Malfunction

I’m being a little cheeky about ‘malfunction,’ but let me provoke your thinking. This is a typical blood glucose report for me from Dexcom’s app, Clarity. The app is on my iPhone and I see this weekly when it arrives as an email.

Yes, I’m typically above 90% in range. I’m not boasting. My high time in range is the result of eating a low carb diet, walking everyday, and wearing and responding to my numbers on my Dexcom CGM. Routine, for me is a major tool managing my blood glucose: eating the same type of foods, eating about the same time of day, walking an hour a day usually at the same time, checking my blood glucose frequently, if it’s going higher than I like I take more insulin, if I see I’m going to crash in 20 minutes, I grab a glucose tablet or honey, whatever’s needed. You get the idea. I’m disciplined, pay attention, do the work, and the regularity of routine reduces the fluxes of unpredictability.

And yet, if you look under Patterns above, it says “No patterns were found for this date range.” Really? Don’t I have healthful patterns? Doesn’t Clarity detect that most of the time I’m in range? Why is it Clarity only tells me I have patterns when my results are less than desired, as featured below.

Those overnight lows by the way are largely compression lows, when I roll over and my body presses on my CGM. Yet, that’s really not the point. Why, when I spend most of my time in range, does Clarity not tell me I have Patterns, like “You spent significant time in range between 6 AM and the following day 6 AM for 7 days in a row”? Or something like that. Cheeky, I know.

But I find it interesting that our human proclivity is to focus on the negative, the problem, the fly in the ointment. C’mon, Dexcom, patterns are not only to be found when things go wrong or results are less than desired. How about just, “lovely patterns were found for this date range”? Well, it’s a start.

Online health professionals for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes

This is a fairly new telehealth service you might be interested in. This guest post comes from Anna Barchevskaia who reached out to me from DiaStrong.

You know there’s a lot to do living with diabetes: check your blood sugar, choose the healthier option at dinner, exercise, call your endocrinologist, change your pump, pack the right supplies, and so forth. It can be overwhelming, it can be tiring, and it can be isolating. 

Now there’s a place online to help people with their diabetes – DiaStrong. It’s the first diabetes-focused telehealth service that can help you move forward, step-by-step, towards better diabetes management. 

DiaStrong gives you access to diabetes providers – certified diabetes educators, registered dietitians, nutritionists, fitness and physical therapists, even wellness practitioners who offer stress management and reiki! In addition to regular assessment consultations, you can get help dealing with your insulin pump, designing a personalized meal plan, manage your stress, sleep and blood sugar or even work with a fitness trainer.

DiaStrong is a one-stop online resource where you can get care that’s easy to access, personalized, don’t-leave-your-couch convenient and focused on your specific diabetes needs. Not only does DiaStrong make diabetes care more accessible, but being virtual, it reduces wait times. You can see a provider as soon as 24 hours after you book your appointment. Gone are the days of waiting to see a health professional, commuting to appointments, or sitting for an hour in a waiting room. 

We at DiaStrong understand that lifestyle specialists, such as dietitians and personal trainers, can be expensive so we offer free 15-minute introductory sessions with all our providers. We want you to find a provider who you feel good about working with. This free session allows you to meet, discuss your needs, learn what benefit they can offer you, and understand the process without pulling out your credit card. 

Let us help make your diabetes journey more successful. To learn more visit DiaStrong and have a look around.  

Learn about Civica’s cheaper insulin and helping get insulin to people with T1D in Ukraine

Today I’m bringing you two stories in the news. I’m going to send you over to diaTribe’s newsletter since there’s little point in me rewriting their informative articles.

Nonprofit Civica Plans to Deliver Low-Cost Insulin – in a nutshell, Civica, a new non-profit Pharma with a mission to bring low-cost drugs to the public, has taken on developing low cost insulin. They’re hopeful to deliver in 2024. Read the article for more details.

Help Life for a Child provide insulin to people with diabetes in Ukraine – The Spare a Rose campaign, initiated by the Diabetes Online Community, has for the past nine years raised significant money for Life for a Child. LFaC provides insulin and diabetes supplies to people with type 1 diabetes in nations in need. Through March, under the auspices of IDF Europe, they will be sending supplies to Ukraine. Click on the link to help with a donation of any amount.