Having had diabetes for over 30 years now, I’ve seen a lot of change happen. Some of the changes with diabetes have been subtle, like acquiring a Delica finger pricker to replace the spring-powered nail gun of a finger pricker that I was using before. Other changes have had a huge impact on my life with diabetes.
#1: BG meter
When I was diagnosed in 1981, most people determined what their blood sugar was by peeing on a stick. Actually, it was a strip. But still, it was a stick. That you peed on! The problem with peeing on a stick (beyond accidentally spraying the bathroom with wee) is that it only tells what the range of the blood sugar is, and it’s often hours behind reality. Blood, on the other hand, is much more accurate, telling you what your blood sugar is right now, rather than what it was three or four hours ago.
After the peeing on a stick days, there were these strips that you would put a drop of blood on, wait a few minutes, then wipe off and see what range your blood sugar was based on the color of the strip. If you wiped the blood off too hard, sometimes the color of the strip would come off with it. It took some practice. I also learned that I could cheat and wipe it with an alcohol swab and the color would be lighter, indicating a lower BG than I actually was. I mean…wait…I never did that…honest. To save on costs, my mom would cut the strips into halves or thirds so that they would last longer. You have to be frugal with diabetes sometimes. We may or may not have also eaten cereal with a fork so that we could pass the milk on to somebody else.
I really don’t know when I got my first BG meter. It was sometime when I was in elementary school. I remember it was huge, and it took several minutes and a huge blood drop (or two, or three) to discover what my blood sugar actually was. Today, our meters are pocket-sized, only taking 5 seconds or so to analyze a very small sample and report the results. It’s a beautiful thing! (Except when the numbers on the screen are less than desirable, but that’s a different blog post.)
#2: Insulin pump
My insulin pump has granted me more freedom with my diabetes than any other single advancement. It allows me to be able to do what I want and eat what I want on my schedule (or lack thereof, if I so choose). I love it, and I don’t ever want to be without it (YDMV).
I’ve had my continuous glucose monitor for a little over a year now. I’m still not the greatest at wearing it regularly, but I absolutely love it when I do. I love that it helps me to keep my BG’s closer to normal, helps warn me when I’m going low or high, and often prevents disaster. My CGM is integrated with my pump, and I love having these two devices working simultaneously to give me data that I can use to improve my diabetes control. Would you look at that…I think I just motivated myself to go put in a new CGM sensor. Go me!
#4: Connecting to the DOC & PWD’s
There is something very special about the Diabetes Online Community, and that is all the people with (and without) diabetes in it. I have met some amazing people in this community, and I have learned so much from them about sharing my life with diabetes. I have also learned all kinds of tips and tricks, such as what tape sticks best to someone made of awesomesauce. Between my laptop, iPad, and phone, I manage to pretty much stay in contact with the DOC 24/7. Beyond the folks the make up the DOC, my favorite thing about it is that no matter what time it is, where I’m at, or what I’m doing, I can always reach out (typically via Twitter) and get a response. It’s awesome!
#5: Friends For Life
Heed these words: If you have never been to a Friends For Life event, then you need to find some way to make that happen. I went for the first time last July (2011), and it was life changing. I got back home and immediately put my time off on the calendar to go again next year. Friends For Life is one of the only places where you can walk around with an insulin pump hanging on your pants pocket, or check your blood sugar in a crowded room, or ask, “How many carbs are in that?” and not get even so much as a sideways glance. It’s a rare opportunity to be in the majority of people with diabetes, where people without diabetes are the minority. Plus it’s an amazing opportunity to meet friends from the DOC, and bond in real life over giant M&M cookies and a shared affinity for plaid.
Disclaimer: The kind folks at OneTouch did not pay me or solicit me to write about or mention their Delica device. That said, if they want to send me some fresh lancets, that would be awesome.
This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J