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Hacking Diabetes.

(Seems like that post title should end with “to bits!!” including a defiant shout and then the popping open of a can of Diet Pepsi.  Or something less specific.)

Last week I traveled to Melbourne, Victoria to present at the International Diabetes Federation World Congress.  Long, Inception-esque flight.  Excellent flight attendant.*

My presentation was anchored in the “Living Well With Diabetes” track, and I homed in on the tips, tricks, and hacks that people with diabetes are using to streamline a cumbersome disease.  But the best part, for me, was getting the folks in attendance to share their tips, and to get discussions brewing between attendees.  A lot of the discussion was built around integration of diabetes devices.  “The technology we have available to us is amazing, but if we don’t wear it and use it, it’s useless.  Doctors prescribe these tools for us, but as a community, we learn to truly integrate these things into our lives.”

  • We talked about the Dexcom-in-a-glass routine, and other patients mentioned putting loose change in the same glass to further amplify the rattle.
  • I mentioned (or at least I think I did) the CGM/earthquake application hack, as well.
  • Keeping things “stuck,” in terms of devices, generated some good discussions.  We touched upon different tapes/stickies we use (Opsite Flexifix, Tegaderm, Skin Tac), and I brought up the Toughpad solution I’ve used for my sensor rashes.
  • A few HCPs in the audience shared tips they picked up from their patients.  “One of my patients had a tough time remembering to take her nighttime insulin dose, so I suggested that she tape the pen to her toothbrush.  It’s something she uses every night before bed!”
  • A patient talked about the time she swapped her basal dose for her fast acting dose.  “I spent that whole night eating.  Never again!”  To help remind her to note the difference between her two insulin pens, she wraps brightly colored duct tape around her fast-acting insulin, so she is forced to note the difference.
  • We talked about diabetes devices and their wearability, and I shared the insulin pump/wedding dress pocket idea. The pump-in-a-trouser-sock trick was also mentioned.

Whether we’re talking about how to best (read: most comfortably and practically) use diabetes devices or highlighting the need for peer-to-peer support, the discussions are important because diabetes does not exist in a vacuum.  For me, I hit diabetes management stride when the tools – glucose meters, insulin pumps, CGMs, logbooks, medications – are in my control and fit into my actual life.

If there’s something you do to make diabetes easier and you’d like to share it, please do!

*Huge shout out to Rachel, the Qantas flight attendant who only ridiculed me a little for “losing” my phone (only to realize I tucked it into my book bag during a jet-laggy moment) and was the epitome of excellent care and service for for a nervous flyer like me (QF 94 on 11/30 from LAX – MEL, and again on QF 93 on 12/8 from MEL – LAX).  Already writing to the Qantas management team to highlight her kindness, but writing it down here on the off-chance that someone who works for Qantas has diabetes.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Allison #

    After having my second baby, life ran counter to my routines often enough that I had trouble remembering if I’d taken my Lantus dose or not. Double-dosing Lantus would be BAD. So I bought a large pill organizer and put one pen needle in each day’s slot. I use those pen needles for my nightly Lantus dose and it’s a great way to safeguard against double-dosing. I love this system.

    12/10/13; 11:53 am
  2. Allison E. #

    Allison ^ up there, that is a fabulous idea!

    12/10/13; 5:27 pm
  3. Ana #

    I set up alarms on my cell phone: basal insulin, snacks, back up CGM data (a new one after I lost a whole month’s data for the second time), and so on. Really loud! I’m seldom far from my cell phone so it usually works.

    12/11/13; 3:00 pm
  4. Ana #

    I set up alarms on my cell phone: basal insulin, snacks, back up CGM (a new one after I lost a whole month’s data for the second time), and so on. Really loud! I’m seldom far from my phone so it usually works.

    12/11/13; 3:07 pm

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