Peace out, Funky Diabetic

(I truly loved your music, Phife, but you were a complete dumb-ass about your diabetes.)

Peace out, Funky Diabetic

The Blair Witch Project Gave Me Diabetes

I watched this film in a theater in Springfield, MO whilst curled up in a tight ball, tucked deep into the folding crack of a cushy, purplely-plush chair and my immune system wrecking havoc upon my pancreas.

(Now, perhaps it was just an upset belly, but it wasn’t too long thereafter (less than a year) that I was in a hospital being diagnosed with Type I – just sayin’. )

So, Blair Witch, though I think you’re a great film (and man, was I ever sucked into the internet marketing for it), I have to warn the world about your diabetic-inducing tendencies.

Be warned, world!


The Blair Witch Project Gave Me Diabetes

Continuous Glucose Monitoring: Week One

One week done and gone while constantly monitoring my blood sugar levels. There’s been some goods and bads, but so far, I’d have to give the Freestyle Navigator two big syringes up!

Monday morning I cycled in to work. The adhesive for the sensor/transmitter did not like the heat/humidity and my skin’s reaction to them both. Couple that with where on my abdomen I’d placed the unit, and I had a feeling the thing wasn’t going to last out the bike ride home. And I was right. Halfway back I started to feel an itch and little pricks on my belly on every right-side up-pedal. When I got home I had to rip the thing off, it was itching so bad. This is what I found beneath:


Repeated stab wounds!

Here’s what the sensor looked like unsheathed:


I was pretty ticked off. The sensors are supposed to last 5 days. This one lasted 3. And those mofos ain’t cheap. But, this was my first attempt at attaching one, so maybe I did something wrong. I’m still in experimental mode.

I attach the next sensor a little bit higher and on the other side of my abdomen. I also attach an overbandage, which the manufacturer recommended if the sensor adhesive alone wasn’t enough. New sensor in place – tight as can be this time thanks to the overbandage – and 10 hours later I’m back to cyborg. Interestingly enough, the sensor readings and my finger-prick readings were much more aligned with the second sensor, with deviations only about 10 mg/dl in either direction.

Come ’round to Thursday when I’m ready to bicycle to work again. There and back, no real issues. I can pedal without feeling pinched and though I can see the sensor adhesive beginning to come unattached, the overbandage remained snug.

Then, yesterday, my abdomen begins to itch like mad. I can’t take it so once again rip off the sensor before it’s due to expire (this one lasted 4 days). This is what I found underneath:


So this time I had the damned thing on too tight and the edges caused some blistering. Washed down with some peroxide, soap and water. Rethunk my strategy. I don’t think a sensor on the abdomen is gonna work during cycling season. Fair enough. So this morning, I attached sensor three to the back of my arm:

cyborg arm

It is difficult to take a photo of the back of your arm by yourself. This is the most comfortable placement position so far. Throughout the day I even forgot a few times I had it attached.

And, 10 hours later, here I am back to being continuously monitored. And I like it. Over the week, I’d grown quite used to using the device’s reporting features to view my 2, 4, and 6 hour BG trends and using those reports to plan for things to come. The low blood sugar alarm is worth it’s weight in gold. This week I confirmed that, for the most part, I have pretty good control. My sugars tend to spike late-morning (for what reason I’ve yet to corner) and that 30-60 minutes of moderate daily exercise is indispensable for maintaining any control (the days I didn’t have time to exercise clearly show erratic up and down trends). And this is nothing I didn’t know already – but it’s nice to see and to gather the data for mining it down the road for even more gains in control.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring: Week One

CGM – a couple days later

So, yeah, techmology (to quote Ali G) is righteous.

After some calibration bumps in the road (machine keep beeping me every 2 hours Friday night/Sat morn for some finger-prick tests), I was off and running as a Diabetech. Saturday morning, I woke up, took my junk, ate my breakfast with a cup of freshly, frenchly-pressed coffee and watched as my post-meal BG level climbed up to the 160s, then began a downward descent as the insulin took hold. Now, I didn’t do any finger-prick comparisons to confirm the Navigator’s accuracy. But I watched as my mid-morning snack halted my lowering BG and kept the levels level until lunchtime came ’round. I repeated the process from the AM: drugs, food, eye on the device. Very nice. And, come the end of the day, it seems my BG remains fairly stable. Of course I had to go fuck it up Saturday night with a home-grown minty mojito which shot the ol’ BG up into the stratosphere (but I knew that going into it).

Today’s experimentation included an accuracy check (compared to finger-prick test results, which themselves aren’t thaaat accurate), but it’s what I gots to work with. And the result is (drum roll, please): not very. To be fair, the Navigator’s documentation (Appendix B) gives the clinical results of the device’s accuracy compared with finger-prick testing and in detecting high and low results. They’re much less accurate than I would have anticipated (my results show reporting deviations of up to 30 mg/dl) but again, the included documentation advises you to confirm any reading with a finger-prick test. The Navigator has finger-prick testing functionality and it will integrate your finger-prick test results in the statistical and graphical reporting features it provides. That’s nice. It seems that the reason for the inaccuracy is that the monitor measures BG levels using interstitial fluid and not my fresh, warm, delicious, and sweet diabetic blood. IF glucose levels lag behind by about 15 minutes. So this reinforces my interest in continuous glucose monitoring as a tool for trend (and statistical) awareness and not obsessing over the numbers reported (something my endocrinologist made me promise not to do before he prescribed the device – apparently, that tends to happen).

Finally, the adhesive that the Navigator uses to keep the sensor and transmitter in place does not like being tortured by humidity. No, sir.

Now – time to experiment! What kind of magic will this (and that) Boulevard ZŌN work upon me? It will be tough, but I will use my body for the furthering of diabeertic science.

CGM – a couple days later

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Hot damn!

Today, I received my first Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). What is that? It’s a device that reads my blood glucose levels 24/7. Why is that cool? Trending, trending, trending.

Standard glucose monitoring has the diabetic test BG levels 4-6 times daily. I check my level, get a number, and act accordingly. And it works well enough to keep my A1C under a 7 (the magic number, though a 5 is closer to non-diabetic range. The HbA1C is a measure of glycated hemoglobin, the batting average of a diabetic). What the standard method doesn’t do, however, is tell me whether that BG level is rising or falling. And that is where CGMs shine. I can really, truly begin to analyze my own BG trends. Am I generally on a upward swing in the AM? How long after my morning commute do my levels begin to drop and should I snack earlier to avoid any low dips in the late morn? In the past, if I wanted to gather trending data I would have to test manually once an hour. Cumbersome, expensive, and still not as valuable as minute-by-minute testing. Additionally, the device has low and high BG alerts, which will warn you if you’re on an upward or downward trend (especially handy if you start to go low while fast asleep. Waking up to severe hypoglycemia is about as fun as getting donkey-punched in the nuts).

So today, after much insurance ballyhoo (this bitch was prescribed back in April), I received my FreeStyle Navigator: a slightly-larger-than-beeper-sized monitor/receiver and a host of sensors which attach to a wireless transmitter (all in all a rather large box of goodies).


The documentation included with the device is very well done. I plugged a sensor into myself and was transmitting to the receiver in no time at all.

(Sorry that’s so terribly out of focus.)

One thing I wish the documentation would have made clearer (as in big-ass, red, bold font) is that once you insert a new sensor, you won’t start receiving data until 10 hours later, when you’re required to do the first of four system calibrations. That means I’m up until midnight tonight waiting to find out if I’ve even installed this mofo correctly.

Needless to say, I’m stoked to see how much better I can manage the ol’ die-uh-bee-tus with this tool.

And yes, this brings me one step closer to cyborg status.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring