Waiting for the Shift in Numbers

Call me crazy, but sometimes, I find myself staring at my Dexcom app in anticipation of catching the numbers changing.

It might be because I’m hoping for a change (coming down from a high, coming up from a low). Or it could be because I find a strange satisfaction in receiving real-time data of my blood sugar levels. Whatever, so be it: I’m a diabetes nerd!

I remember this particular example bringing me happiness, because I’d been hovering pretty close to my high limit (170 mg/dL) for a couple hours. So watching that three-point shift happen reassured me that I was going to come down. And sure enough, 15 minutes after capturing these screenshots, I was going down closer to my target of 100.

When it comes to diabetes…it’s the little things, right? Am I the only one who likes monitoring my CGM this closely, every once in a while? Or am I just weird?

Maybe don’t answer that last question…

Memory Monday: 1st Generation Dexcom CGMs

One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much diabetes technology, education, and stigma has changed over the years. Remember when…

…Dexcom CGMs made their debut?

It was just over ten years ago that the Dexcom SEVEN CGM System launched. I didn’t actually know more about it, though, until a couple years after the fact. That was when my endocrinologist encouraged me to sign up for a week-long trial run with this new technology to see how I liked it.

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Then: The Dexcom SEVEN CGM System

I didn’t like it, I LOVED it. I quickly became obsessed with the ability to monitor my blood sugar levels at all times. But it’s funny to think back to how bulky and just plain different that first-generation system was compared to today’s sleek and highly functional models.

A few key differences between now and then:

  • Size. The first CGM was large. It was roughly the size of my OmniPod PDM, which might not seem so significant, but it is when measured up against newer CGM models.
  • Display. The screen on my first CGM was very simple. No colors, no frills – just readings of my blood sugar. That was all fine, but I have to say that I’m a fan of color-coordinated blood sugar reports (red for low, yellow for high, gray for in-range numbers). In a weird way, it motivates me to keep my graph as gray as possible.
  • Distance restrictions. I hated that I had to keep my first CGM so close to me at all times, or else run the risk of losing data! It was hyper sensitive and my readings would be lost if I left the same room as the CGM for more than a couple of minutes. My CGM is now able to pick up readings from much farther away – sometimes, even when I’m downstairs and it’s upstairs.
  • Sounds. My memory is a little foggier on how the sounds compare between old and new Dexcom CGM generations, but I do recall the beeps and vibrations being far more aggressive and annoying on older models.
  • Smartphone access. This might be one of the biggest and best changes – the ability to download an app on your smartphone that can replace a Dexcom receiver. How awesome is that? Plus, if you choose to do so, you can invite family and friends to monitor your blood sugar along with you, which can be helpful in certain situations. Cell phones are so ingrained into society, so this move was brilliant on Dexcom’s part.
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Now: Dexcom data, on my iPhone!

All these improvements have made me a member of Team Dexcom for life. It’ll be neat to see what they come up with next to help make the lives of people with diabetes easier and better.

10 Tips for T1Ds Celebrating Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

A holiday that promotes gratitude and eating…what’s not to love? As much as I enjoy Thanksgiving, though, I can’t quite say that my diabetes feels the same about it. Fortunately, I’ve developed a bit of a game plan as to how to handle diabetes when Turkey Day comes rolling around – here are my top 10 tips for making the most of a Thanksgiving feast with diabetes!

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A tree of thanks I made many Thanksgivings ago – note my gratitude for Lindt chocolate, specifically.

10) Don’t skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. This helps me avoid over-eating when Thanksgiving dinner is served later in the day. Breakfast doesn’t have to be a huge thing, maybe just a bowl of oatmeal or a piece of fresh fruit – anything that will sate me for a few hours.

9) Volunteer to prepare a couple of dishes. If I’m going somewhere for the feast, I like to know what my host needs me to bring. If I have creative control over the dish, I prefer to make it something that I know won’t be too hard on my blood sugars, such as a side of veggies or a sugar-free dessert.

8) Familiarize yourself with what’s being served prior to sitting down for the meal. Before my family sits down to eat, I like to know what exactly we’re being served so I can plan accordingly. I can usually get away with strolling around the kitchen to get an idea, but sometimes the chef (my aunts or my mom) kick me out while they finish cooking dinner!

7) Don’t feel pressured to try everything. It all looks and smells so good, but I have to remind myself to use some restraint when piling my plate with Thanksgiving food. I’ll add staples like turkey and green beans (both of which are low-carb!) and take smaller portions of the heavy things, such as stuffing and potatoes.

6) If it’s necessary, extend my bolus. This all depends on what my blood sugar is before the meal, but sometimes, I’ll extend it in order to prevent lows or highs post-feast.

5) Check my blood sugar often. I’m not afraid to check my blood sugar as often as I need to throughout the Thanksgiving feast. I’d rather have an idea of where my blood sugar is headed than leave it to chance and guess incorrectly.

4) Go for a walk or organize another outdoor activity. The weather doesn’t always cooperate with this idea, but I’ve found that dragging my cousins on a 20-minute walk after eating helps my blood sugar and provides us all a chance to hang out while our uncles take control of the TV and our aunts chitchat over cups of coffee.

3) Wait a bit before having seconds or starting on desserts. I try to indulge a bit on the sweets at Thanksgiving, but I know that it never works out for me if I help myself to desserts too soon after consuming the main course. So I avoid the temptation by staying busy after eating dinner – my mom and aunts always appreciate an extra set of hands to assist with clean up!

2) Look up carb counts if I’m struggling to come up with them on my own. Sometimes, I can’t quite determine how many carbs are in a serving of pumpkin pie – I’ll guess too low and end up high, as a result! But I know that there are tons of carb counting resources at the tip of my fingers, thanks to my smartphone. I rely on the MyFitnessPal app and the handy Thanksgiving carb chart from Beyond Type 1 to help me come up with complex counts.

1) Remember what the holiday’s all about: being thankful! Enjoy the day and time with loved ones! Whether you’re part of a large family like mine, a small one, or choose to spend the day with friends or a partner, just relish it for what you want it to be.

Memory Monday: 60-Second Meters

One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much diabetes technology, education, and stigma has changed over the years. Remember when…

…it took blood glucose meters a full 60 seconds to generate a reading?!

A full minute to get a blood glucose reading. That just seems crazy now, considering most meters can deliver a number in a mere 5 seconds. But growing up, it was all that I had to use. I remember being sent down to the school nurse every day in elementary school to test my blood sugar before lunch. I would pace around the nurse’s office as I waited to see my number, making a game out of it. Those 60 seconds felt agonizingly long as they cut into the amount of time I had to eat my lunch. It wasn’t fun.

By the time I reached middle school, I obtained a OneTouch Ultra Mini blood sugar meter, which I coveted. It took only 15 seconds to check my blood sugar, and it came in a rainbow of colors! Over the years, I collected different versions of the mini in pink, blue, and purple. And as time went on, the countdown went from 15 to 5 seconds – so checking blood sugar was quicker and easier than ever before!

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I kept one of the UltraMini meters – just in case.

These days, OneTouch meters are still my product of choice. I use the Verio IQ meter and I love how it lights up, allows data input, and tracks patterns. It serves as a reminder of the progress that’s been made in meter technology alone in the last 20 years!

What’s your blood glucose meter of choice? Why?