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Posts from the ‘Diabetes Products’ Category

Gift Ideas for People with Diabetes.

What do you get for the person who has everything … except a working pancreas?  Here are six (until me) of my favorite d-related things:

  1. Medical alert jewelry.  Looking for medical alert jewelry that isn’t clunky or ugly? I’ve always loved this simple, classic bracelet from StickyJ Jewelry and have been wearing it daily for the last few years.  It’s comfortable and chic!
  2. Diabetes books.  This one is entirely self-serving, but if you’re looking for some diabetes reading, you can pick up a copy of my book, Balancing Diabetes, or check out any of these other titles that are diabetes-centric.  Nothing like curling up with a good, islet-inspired book.
  3. Jerry the Bear.  How about some diabetes that you can cuddle?  Check out Jerry the Bear, a stuffed animal designed to teach kids about diabetes through play.  (Read more about how my daughter bonding with Jerry here.)
  4. Donate.  You can make a difference for PWD by donating to your favorite diabetes organization or charity.  Help support Children with Diabetes and keep this amazing conference going, or give thanks through the Diabetes Hands Foundation thank you cards, or consider sparing a rose to help provide life for a child.
  5. Diabetes accessories.  Bring some festive flair to your diabetes devices with accessories from Tallygear or Myabetic.  These two shops blow the basic black meter case out of the water.
  6. Diabetes decals.  Dress up your meter, or pump, or Dexcom with some designs from PumpPeelz.  You can even design your own decal right on their website!

Happy shopping, and if you have a favorite diabetes product, service, or accessory you’d like to share, please feel free to do that in the comments section.

That Clip, Though.

I’ve been using the t:slim pump for the better part of a year now, and over the last few months (here’s a handy disclosure that you should read for context on my relationship with Tandem), I’ve appreciated the new set of options that the t:slim has brought into my diabetes life.

… man, that sounds a little formal.  I’m too pregnant for formality at the moment.  (My feet have officially given up on being feet and refuse any covering other than socks or flip flops, and my son is moving visibly as I type, making sitting close to my desk a challenge. Eff formality.)  The reasons for the t:slim being a badass addition to my diabetes management RIGHT THIS SECOND are that I can take a bolus in a matter of seconds without scrolling through fifty different screens, I can edit my basal or insulin:carb needs with a few beeps, and the 300 unit reservoir is going to come in handy these last few weeks of pregnancy.

One challenge I’ve historically had with the t:slim pump, however, is the clip that is shipped out with it.  For me, the clip was a little bulkier than I preferred and also not as secure as I needed.  I wanted streamlined and secure, and as my pregnant body expands and clothing options like “pockets” and “waistbands” have been shoved into the distance.  I need my pump clip to be able to hang on by a thread.

This one works great, though:

I love this clip. #tslim #diabetes #insulinpump

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

A friend suggested this clip to me and gave me one of theirs, but since trying it out, I’ve keep a spare or two on hand because it seriously solves all of my pump clip troubles.  The tape is very secure and I’ve had the same pump clip stay successfully stuck for the last six months.  I have no relationship with the company who makes the clip, and this is not an affiliate link or anything like that, but if you want to try out a pump clip for your t:slim (or any other pump) that is subtle, streamlined, and strong, this Nite Ize Hip Clip is worth a shot.

Hey! An informative post! Who saw that coming? Not me. Bring on the cat gifs.

cat filing his nails

t:slim with a Twist.

Several months ago, I switched insulin pumps.  (Here is the post about the switch, and please read this post about the disclaimer that initiated the switch.  My full disclosure page is here.)  My first impressions of the t:slim pump were drummed up over a year ago, after trialing one for a few weeks, but my real t:slim immersion came once I switched in full.

Funny thing is the timing of that switch.  When I packaged up my Animas pump in favor of a Tandem one, I had also just found out I was pregnant.  Which means that I was adjusting to life as a pregnant PWD and also to a new insulin pump.

tl;dr – There’s stuff about the t:slim pump I wouldn’t have appreciated so soon were it not for the baby-en-route.

Because dude, if I had switched a year ago, I would have been all, “Oh, it looks so cool and the touchscreen is badass, and the fact that it’s flat all the way across the front makes it easier to tuck into my clothes,” making the wearability the most important part of my switch.  Yeah, wearability matters, but not as much as ease of use and OUTCOMES does these days.

(None of the following is medical advice; remember, I’m not a doctor and currently can’t even see my feet in full these days.)

#tslim #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Entering a bolus is stupid-easy.  And this matters, since every blood sugar counts double these days (for me and for my growing son).  It takes me a few seconds to unlock the pump and bang out a bolus, and only a few extra seconds to add crucial information like my current blood glucose and the carbs I’m consuming.  Part of my over-arching problem of diabetes management is keeping apathy from creeping in; the all day, every day tasks of type 1 diabetes wear on me in a way that prevents me from taking advantage of everything technology has to offer.  Oh, so an insulin pump can calculate my insulin on board (IOB) and the dose I need to bring down a blood sugar back into range, or what’s needed to cover X amount of carbs?  HANDY INFO!  The only thing I have to do is enter that information and it spits out a result?  ALSO HANDY.  But having to scroll forever to enter information is enough to keep me from entering that information.

It’s pathetic, how often I was taking 2u of insulin because it seemed “close enough” to cover what I needed, instead of spending the time calculating the proper dose.  Being able to input this necessary information in a matter of seconds makes me actually DO IT.  My endo is very pleased with this uptick in my management, and my A1C 100% reflects these efforts.

#tslim #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Changing my basal rates is stupid-easy.  Being pregnant means that my insulin needs are changing rapidly.  First trimester brought about insanely sticky hypoglycemic events, which equaled out to dialing down my basal rates significantly and making frequent use of the temp basal option.  (Again, it’s about the button pushing – it takes me seconds to set a temporary basal rate.  Ease of freaking use FTW.)  Second trimester showed a steady climb in my weight and insulin resistance, with a marked rise in my basal rates and my insulin:carb ratios.  And now, at the beginning of the third trimester, shit is changing all over the place, with some basal rates going down a little bit and my insulin:carb ratio almost double what it was pre-pregnancy.  There’s a lot of math going on in my baby-building body, and being able to change my rates after reviewing my data on Diasend and t:connect makes for easier management.

Holding more insulin is stupid-easy.  The t:slim holds a ton of insulin (300u) and as my pregnancy progresses, I may need that cartridge to be filled in full, instead of the half-way filled I’ve been doing for the last six months.

#tslim #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Seeing my status is stupid-easy.  One button push shows me how much insulin is on board, how long it will be active, shows how much insulin is left in the reservoir, the percentage of charge left in my battery, and the time.  Oh, and what day it is.  (This matters, as the day and time are bits of information that are being eaten regularly by intense pregnancy brain.)

Not everything is stupid-easy.  This isn’t a list of perfect moments with my insulin pump.  There are pros and cons, and the time it takes to change out the cartridge and infusion set is still cumbersome.  I also am not a fan of the luer-lock tubing bulge, as it takes on a “third nipple” appearance more often than I’d prefer.  And I’ve seen more occlusion alarms with the t:slim than I did in the past.  But I’ll these cons over the pros, especially when I review my lab work from Joslin and see how strong my numbers are.

Being more on-target through my pregnancy is not stupid-easy.  Let’s not make my successes as a pregnant PWD the product of an insulin pump, shall we?  I am working my ass off to make sure my body and my baby are healthy, with just over 11 weeks left to go before we release this particular Kraken.  But having a piece of technology that alleviates the bolus math angst, makes it impossible to forget whether or not I’ve taken my basal insulin, and being able to bang out a correction dose in a matter of moments helps take the pressure off, at least a little bit.

… even if the beeps and boops might startle my developing fetus.  (If that study has any truth to it, my poor kids are screwed.)

 

Guest Post: From Inside a D-Tech Startup

Marcus is cool.  I’m pretty certain about this because he has diabetes, thus making him part of a group of people I trust without justification outside of the whole “not making insulin, either” part.  (And he makes entertaining videos, but that’s a whole separate post.)  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be hosting some guest posts here and there, and today, Marcus is taking over SUM to talk about how his day job intersects with his all-the-time disease, and what kind of help he’s looking for from our diabetes community.

*  *   *

Like most of you, I have plenty of thoughts on what device manufacturers for diabetes should be doing differently. Through my thirty-two years of being T1, I’ve used countless pumps, CGMs, and meters. Opinions? I’ve got plenty of them.

I suppose that’s why I jumped at the chance to get an insider’s view as Chief Marketing Officer for Aspire Universal, the venture company that supports Tempo Health. Tempo is a mobile health start-up focused on developing new personalized technologies for diabetes patients.  Think of it as the most the sophisticated bolus calculator you ever saw, but one that does the math for you, taking into account not just carbs and insulin, but heart rate, skin temperature, altitude and more.

Personalized diabetes also means dynamic diabetes. An app I’m testing this week actually has four different blood glucose models running constantly, and constantly updates itself to use the most accurate one with each calibration.

Before you run from this post thinking that Kerri sold this space to the highest bidder, relax.  [Editor’s note:  The bids weren’t that high.  Second note:  This is a joke; no money was exchanged for this post, nor would there ever be.]  I’ve got nothing to sell you, yet. But I can give you my view of what changing diabetes looks like from this side of the blank white board and what’s required to take an idea and turn it into a useful product for diabetes treatment.

Tempo Health has a mandate from our VC to apply machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) to find new solutions for diabetes management. Simply put, we pull data off of devices (like a Dexcom G5 or a FitBit) and run it through seriously crazy math to predict your future BG. The most important word there is “your.” Every T1 knows that everything changes our BG every day. Some days our bolus calculations are spot-on, but often they’re not.

Assuming we can achieve personalized diabetes management with machine learning, there are many ways we could deploy the solutions: better bolus calculators for insulin pumps, non-invasive CGMs, etc. As the IoT continues to grow, so will the data and so will the insights that come out of the data.

When I first heard about using machine learning this way, I was taken aback. Months later, I can tell you that it’s not the math that’s holding back diabetes innovation. Here are three immediate hurdles that come to mind (relax, FDA – I’m giving you a pass this time around):

  1. Data. Everyone operating in the space needs data. Data from trials. Data from partners. Data from you. But truth is, we need more. Last I counted, there were twenty-four obvious factors that affect blood glucose, but the most robust integrated databases today usually include only three: carbs, insulin and BG. We need more data, which means…
  2. Willingness to share data. Vendors need to work together and share data with each other in joint ventures to help solve the problem. If you keep your chocolate bar and I keep my peanut butter, we’ll never have my favorite way to treat a low.
  3. Quantifying the potential value of personalized solutions is complex. If approaches to diabetes management are unique to each person, be it with data or devices, the value proposition per person is also unique.

The most exciting part about those obstacles is that while these are the things we bang our heads against the wall about every day right now, they don’t for a moment strike me as insurmountable. In fact, when I look at what’s going on in the industry, I see overcoming them as inevitable. Better technological approaches to diabetes treatment are coming soon and if you’re interested, you can be part of the revolution.

On our website, we have a simple form where you can sign up to be a beta user for our products. Like all studies, criteria vary. Sometimes we want people local to our Lancaster, PA offices and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re trying out apps for pump patients and other times we’re looking at pen users. So I can’t promise we’ll use you, but we’d love to have you sign up today. Just go to http://tempohealth.com

Marcus Grimm is CMO for Aspire Universal, serving as a startup storyteller for multiple ventures. He’s also the Running Coach for Diabetes Training Camp is on the Board of the Diabetes Sports Project and his local JDRF. Follow him on Twitter at @marcusgrimm.

Open the Door.

For several weeks, I was flipping open the charging port on my t:slim insulin pump and plugging it in while I was in the shower.  But then I noticed the charging port cover was looking a little worse for the wear, and I connected with a friend about best practices.  (“Best practices” standing in for “How the hell do you charge this thing without breaking the door off?”)

Turns out the door swivels.  And swiveling the door keeps it from ripping.

Swivel that door! #tslim

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Well I’ll be (… more careful, more aware, a swivel-er).

(Also, you tell me if “Open the door” as a post title immediately made you think “get on the floor … everybody walks the dinosaur.”

 

[Tandem disclosure]

 

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