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TD14ADay: Pretending Not To Be.

Last Friday, I took the JDRF's T1D for a Day text challenge for a spin.  I wanted to see how "accurate" the texts were, and if they encapsulated both the blood sugar and the emotional flux of a day with type 1 diabetes. (And don't worry - I'm not recounting every, single text here because I don't want to ruin it for someone who hasn't experienced it yet, but this post does contain ... spoilers, I guess?  If you don't want to know the gist of the TD14ADay bit, you can watch this on loop instead.)

The day opened with a text at 8:45 am, thanking me for signing up for the project (and with the obligatory "Hey, this isn't medical ANYTHING" disclaimer.)  The first "real" text about my diabetes day didn't come in until 9:30 am eastern, warning me to remember to bring all my supplies with me that day.  (Which, for me, didn't match anything even close to my regular day.  Every day starts early, and with my glucose meter in my hand.  I don't leave my bed before testing my blood sugar.  If I waited until 9:30 am to address diabetes stuff, I'd already be behind the 8 ball.)

Preparation = giant purse, for me.

But then we were off and running.  I received a text every hour or two, ranging from managing a post-breakfast high that came out of the blue to finding a finger to prick that isn't already sore and tough to squeeze a drop from.  (And the timing was good for so many of these texts, like the one that came in at 6:19 pm about "going for a run" as I was setting up my diabetes junk on the treadmill.  Art imitating life!)

I liked that there were blood sugar checks and emotional "checks" built into each text.  Diabetes isn't just about testing and reacting (sometimes being proactive) to blood sugar numbers.  It's about acknowledging that some of the outliers don't have explanations, but we still need to address the needs of our bodies and move forward.

I love this.

And then this one I liked very much, as well:

DO NOT CELEBRATE.  At least not with food.  :)

YES!  A blood sugar number clocking in where I want it to?  No, I will not "celebrate" (aka "ruin") it by grabbing a cupcake.  That inclination to celebrate diabetes moments with food (or to reward any positive with food) is a strangely unhealthy one, in my under-caffeinated opinion, and I was happy to see the JDRF making that point here.

And then there was the middle-of-the-night low.  I knew this one was coming (thanks to hints from Facebook), but I still didn't set my phone to silent for the night.  I wanted to see if I would hear it.  Of course, I didn't.  The pinging of the text coming in wasn't enough to wake me from my sleep (even though if Birdy burps from three rooms away, I will wake up with a start).  I did wake up to see that my alternate-text-universe-me had a really tough low in the middle of the night, one that required calling a neighbor to be at the ready.  Having made those awkward phone calls to my mom and my best friend while low ("I'm really low but I'm okay and can you just stay on the phone with me for a few minutes?"), these texts really resonated for me.

Bring it on, Another Day.

When the texts were coming in throughout the day, I remember thinking, "Man, whoever wrote these was trying to give a glimpse into a particularly rough day with diabetes."  A post-breakfast spike, random diabetes math to accommodate an apple snack, the age old question of "indulge or avoid?", juggling exercise, the quiet euphoria of testing and seeing a "perfect" blood sugar number ... but this isn't a particularly rough day. This is every day. 

And as the JDRF sums up in their final text, you can't "TxtStop2End" when you're living with diabetes.  

You can take this text challenge throughout the month of November - click here for more details.  As a person living with type 1 diabetes, I found it to be thankfully accurate, and a really effective eye-to-the-keyhole for someone without diabetes.  I raise my coffee cup to the JDRF this morning - effective advocacy!!


Interesting. I got all of the exact same texts. I'd hoped for a bit more variety, but it was still an interesting experiment. I didn't think it talked *nearly* as much as it should have about the emotional and physical toll things like lows can cause. For someone w/o diabetes, reading a text saying "you're low, drink juice" or whatever...sort of lessens the impact. What it should've said is more to the effect of "OMG you're way too low to be driving, pull over this instant...wait 30 minutes b/c you feel like ass, then test again. Peel your sweaty shirt off your back, mop your forehead and try to control the post-low shakes & migraine so you can keep your &^%$ together long enough not to hurl on your shoes during your 1:00 client meeting." That might've had more impact. But I'm sure the JDRF doesn't want to include words like ass, hurl and &^%$ in their texts.

Lindsay - Agreed. I was thinking about how I would do this (and have done this in the past with former coworkers), and I think for an org like the JDRF, "ass" might be a bit of a stretch. But "hurl" is in their wheelhouse. ;) It's so hard to tailor one program to the whole pile of us. But the steady stream of texts was a good first step. IMO, there should have been double the number of texts. I manage diabetes more than just on the hour, you know?

I agree...I think it was a really good first step and it was a worthwhile experiment. I hope the majority of those who participate are NOT T1s so they get a good glimpse!

While a good first step - it still left a lot to be desired. A lot of my friends don't want to sign up due to so many text messages and potential charges. I think an interactive website with visuals, etc. would have been better and could have included more useful info (such as: click here to see what a normal blood sugar range should be). I think visuals (such as the chart that hangs up in my dr's office that shows symptoms of a low) would be impactful.

I like the idea, but what's also missing is not only the stuff that you actually have to do (checking nutrition labels and tallying your carb total per meal, guesstimating carbs and the doubt that goes along with that), BUT, the number of times that I think of where my BG is at over the course of a day (a CGM is nice, but still pretty far off in terms of accuracy). Not only that, the number of times I think about my BG and actually pull out the CGM to see where I'm at. I think I do that 3-4 times per hour. I sometimes feel like diabetes harasses me ("will you just leave me the alone for an hour?! A moment of peace and quiet, please!!!"). It's what I imagine being stalked would feel like (think about it: it makes you feel unsafe, you're wondering what it's going to do next...).

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