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Diabetes For The Day: Round Four

This past Monday and Tuesday, another dLife coworker volunteered to be "diabetic for the day."  (We'll call him Johnny CoWorker for the purposes of this post.)  He wore an infusion set (sans needle), a "pump," and tested his blood sugar throughout the day.  But in addition to the physical hardware of diabetes, I spoke with Johnny CoWorker about the emotional aspects of diabetes, citing how vulnerable highs and lows can make us feel, what the feelings/food conundrum is like, and what it's like to manage a chronic condition not just for the day, but for a lifetime. 

He asked a lot of questions.  And he listened.  This is his feedback about his experience with diabetes for the day:

Kerri:  You wore a “pump” and tested your blood sugar throughout your day with diabetes.  How did you feel about these devices?

JC:  The pump was not an issue for me, it was slightly weird getting used to it and when I had to decide what to wear for work. Other than my kids asking me what the wire attached to me was, I didn’t notice it.

I got the hang of testing after a little bit, and was very interested in how working out or what I eat affected my numbers.  A couple of times I got a bleeder and it stung and then one time I had to prick my hand four times to get enough blood to get a reading (rookie!).  I felt in tune with my body and was intrigued to learn my numbers each time.

Diabetic For the Day!

Kerri:  You wore the pump all day and overnight.  Was it comfortable?  How was sleeping with something attached?  Showering?  Was it difficult to dress for?  Did you almost drop it into the toilet at any point? 

JC:  Definitely the decision of what to wear was interesting – a button down shirt tucked in where the wire would be sticking out of my shirt or a sweater where the wire can easily go into my pocket.  I choose the sweater to avoid the tugging of the wire.  Relaxing, sleeping, and showering was much more comfortable than I expected.  When I bent over to tie my shoes, I caught the injection site the wrong way and it pinched, I can only imagine what that would of felt like with a needle injected.
Kerri:  How did testing your blood sugar affect the way you thought about food? Did you find the blood sugar testing to be painful? How comfortable were you with the process?

JC:  I ate healthy all day so no big swings high or low, but I was very cognizant of testing before I ate and then two hours after to see what affect the food had on my numbers.

A couple of times it was painful.  Initially when I first started I thought if I had to do this all the time I wouldn’t mind.  But as the day wore on I found it to be more of a burden to do and was struck with the realization that this was a 24 hour experiment for me vs. a lifetime for many others.
Kerri:  How did the blood glucose numbers make you feel? Did any of your results make you raise an eyebrow? 

JC:  Luckily no, I exercised and ate well all day so my numbers where in a range of 83 – 121, which I was pleased with.
Kerri:  Do you feel as though you have a better idea of what life with diabetes is like?  What else would you want to know?  What are you grateful for not knowing?  

JC:  I think I do, but I don’t know that I can truly appreciate what it would be like for others unless “I had” to do all of this.  I would be interested in learning more about if I had a heavy carb meal (like my favorites – pasta or pizza) and what that might of done to my numbers.  I am grateful that I don’t have to know how food, exercise, or stress effects how I feel on a daily basis.
Kerri:  Did this experiment make you appreciate your health any more?  Less?

JC:  Definitely more.  I think you take your health for granted and this experiment is an eye opener of what people need to go through on a daily basis to manage their disease and their life effectively.

Kerri:  As the sibling of a sister with type 1 diabetes, did this make you think more about what your sister has experienced over the years?

JC:  This process definitely made me think about what she has experienced over the years.  We never really talked much about her diabetes until I joined dLife three years ago and I think this experience can only add to our conversations we have in the future.   
Kerri:  Do you think other people who are close to diabetes, but aren’t diabetic themselves, should spend a day as a diabetic?

JC:  Absolutely – at a bare minimum a day, I would suggest a week.  This was a great experience, and I think it will help me both personally and professionally relating to people who are managing this disease on a daily basis.

Thanks, Johnny CoWorker, for taking the time to get a glimpse of what our lives are like.  And to check out past Diabetes For the Day moments, click here and here and here!  :)


Hey Kerri -

A suggestion for your next d-for-a-day volunteer. Give them a baggie full of folded slips of paper containing random "bg readings". In addition to testing, they have to grab a paper, and think of what they would need to do if their BG reading was really the one from the paper. About to eat? Too bad, you're 356. Want to go for a run? Well, you're 58 now....

I really like that your co-workers are into trying this out - kudos to all of them!

This is my favorite "feature" of SUM. I just think it is so cool. I am trying to get Georgie to do it. I bet he would.


Kerri - these are fabulous experiments, and I very much appreciate you doing all of this. Thanks!

So helpful. Thank you.

I wonder if there is a way to replicate the "fun" of an insulin reaction. It's so hard to explain how that feels to people.

Very interesting indeed! I too would like to thank "Johnny C." for taking part. As for the heavy carb meal, it definitely presents a problem. My toddler enjoyed a pasta meal just last night and from past experience I know that pasta tends to cause a delayed blood sugar rise. I have been trying to master the use of her combo bolus feature on her pump. But I have yet to be successful. I was up setting alarms to do checks and corrections till the wee hours. And still this morning her waking, pre-breakfast blood sugar was 18!!! I felt so defeated and guilty. Pizza presents the same problem. It really makes you think twice about what you eat. Is eating that big bowl of pasta worth the blood sugar battle that will ensue? As the parent of a type 1 toddler, often my answer depends on how well rested I am at the time.

I totally agree with Val. And I also suggest you actually give your next test subject an infusion set that they must wear for 24 hours. It's not like it's going to kill them, but I guarantee they will crap their pants at having to insert that long needle into their bodies with the insertion device.

I agree with Val and Kim. I like both of their ideas.

Great blog as usual, Kerri.

echoing Val... also, next time, give me their email address or cell phone number and (randomly) throughout the day I'll ping them and say "You feel dizzy - test your blood sugar - ignore the number on the meter and proceed as if your blood sugar is 47" or "stop what you are doing and go to the bathroom! you are high!"

I would love to get some of my friends/family to try this, but I honestly don't want to give up a day's (or week's) worth of test strips for it. Bleah.

I think maybe people who dont understand should have to be made to wear something like a pump then maybe and just maybe they would understand what it is we go through every day of our lifes .great blog.

I agree with Val and Kim too, but if you really want to put the screws to them, get them a vial of sterile saline and forget the pump, give them some syringes and have them do injections. I'm still thinking most of us had to at one point learn how to do a regular old shot. Ok, maybe one shot when their fake reading is 400 would be enough. ;)

I wish every medical professional who has to treat patients with diabetes would have to wear a pump for a day or two. And, family members of diabetics too. I could suggest a few...

I'm always so interested in these "experiments" and love hearing their feedback. I love Val's idea of the random BG numbers on slips of paper. I might draw the line at a "live" infusion site or saline injections though. I think it's enough that they wear a needle-free "pump" and do the finger-sticks. I wouldn't want to push a test-subject too far.

Tnx for your comment. I'm thinking about opening a blog in english. I'll keep u posted if so. :)

I want to try this I am 13 and my best friend is a diabetic and so maybe I will try soon, a quick question where do they get a test kit and do you have them buy it or do you lend them one and change the lancet afterwards? Can you write a post on how anyone reading the post could do it including supplies, how to make a "pump" and when to check sugars...Thank you!

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