Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shirts and Mugs.

I just want to throw a quick post up here to let you know (if you didn't see already) that there is now a You Can Do This Project store on Zazzle! It's pretty much just t-shirts and mugs at this point, but if you have requests for other items through Zazzle, I'm happy to take them. :)

The point of opening up a store is 1. because it helps to spread the word about You Can Do This, so of course I'm a fan of that, 2. because several people indicated that they would buy a shirt, and who am I to deny them, and more pressingly 3. because OMG printing stuff for FFL/TCOYD tables is expensive - moreso than I thought, and the proceeds from these items will hep to offset the remaining costs.

Until midnight tonight, Zazzle is also having a 50% off sale on t-shirts - so stock up! Use the code "DADSCASENTEE" (okay, they didn't create a special sale just for YCDT - it's for Father's Day, but you can still use it) to get the discount.

And in related news, I've also opened up a Zazzle store for Texting My Pancreas stuff. (You'll notice a new "buy stuff" button to your left and down a bit.) Basically, I'm throwing some of the more popular cartoon images onto mugs and shirts (well, onto shirts when I figure out how to blow the images up without them getting all weird-looking), so if you're into that sort of thing, that's where to go.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Would, Could... But Should?

"Would you, could you, have a treat?
Can you snack on something sweet?"

I could eat, I would eat
That little treat
But should I, would I
Eat that sweet?

I could eat them at every meal.
I could eat them with such zeal.

I could eat them day or night.
I could eat them out of spite.

I could eat them on the go.
I could eat them all - YOLO.

But I would not, should not
Eat all those treats;
All those sweets
Those tasty treats.

I know I can, I can eat that treat.
But should I invite that glycemic leap?

But I want it! It's yummy!
It would fit so well inside my tummy!
(But you don't need it, you dummy...)

Those treats are right there for the taking
Despite the insulin my pancreas isn't making.
Just a few buttons pressed; it's not painstaking
But the true cost - to that, I'm waking.

The "just one"s add up.
The "I could"s are expensive.
The "once in a while"s seem to travel in packs.
The urges are sudden; sneak attacks.

I can, I have, I won't, I could
Another story, that dastardly "should".

Learn and try and learn once more.
I will, I can, I have before.

After assessing the accumulation of this past weekend's consumption - cake at a graduation party, desserts at a family reunion, s'mores at a baby shower (yes, you read that right), ice cream on Monday... I've got some work to do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Scream, You Scream.

My friend Jeff is passing through the West of Mid this week, and kindly chose to pay Aaron, Billy and I a visit. We had some dinner, drove him around to "see the sights" (many of which were closed due to the holiday - whoops), and proceeded to indulge in what was apparently some diabetes-friendly ice cream.

Jeff told me that he tends to absorb the glucose from his fellow PWDs. I believe it.

I also commend his tolerance of one very vocal member of our clan who would Not. Leave. Him. Alone.

Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!
Thanks for visiting, Jeff!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Om Nom Nom.

Aaron and I are headed out for a family reunion today, and here's what we're bringing:

Cherry tomato, basil leaves, and mozzarella with a
bit of olive oil and Italian seasoning. On a huge toothpick.
Low carb, totally fresh (just picked the basil from our garden this morning) and I want to eat it all RIGHT NOW OM NOM NOM.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lilly Diabetes Blogger Summit 2012: So Emotional.

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."- Maya Angelou

I'm starting this post with the above quote because I think it best describes how I'm processing the Lilly Diabetes 2012 Bloggers Summit, which I and several others attended on Monday. (I was reunited with CheriseKerri, Scott, George, K2, KellyBennet, Mike, Lorraine and Leighann, and had the pleasure of meeting Tony and Scott for the first time.) I hardly took any notes, so this isn't the place to go if you're wanting direct quotes from Lilly executives.

Most of the day was spent either touring some part of their vast campus or in a discussion-based atmosphere, and I wanted to be an active participant in those things. I wanted to resist the gravitational pull that my laptop and social media tends to rope me in with, and really dedicate my attention to listening, learning, and voicing my thoughts.

Let me state this now: I like Lilly Diabetes. I can say (now that I've experienced a bit of it in person) that I like the culture they're striving to build. I appreciate the attitude they've displayed towards the need for them - really, the need - to engage with their customers in the diabetes community. I was impressed, on various levels, with the individuals we met during the event. It also doesn't hurt that I've been a customer of theirs for many years, so there's a bit of attachment-by-association thing going on. I would bet I'd feel a similar way if I were to visit Animas, Lifescan (who make the OneTouch meters I use) or Dexcom.

I will also say that I particularly like some of the graphics they've chosen to install in their workspace. (Shocking, right? I'm not a visual person at all. /sarcasm) In fact, I might have immediately teared up when Scott Johnson pointed one of them out to me.

It's difficult for me, as someone who is cognizant of how very fragile this chance at her life is, to not feel some emotional connection to Lilly. This was the first company to successfully launch large-scale production of insulin, and if that hadn't worked out, who knows if any of us who are insulin-dependent would be living the lives we're living now. It was apparent to me, at least a couple of different times throughout the day, that the folks at Lilly didn't expect the emotional response they saw when we toured Heritage Hall (their own little history museum); when we heard the winning entry to the Once Upon A Time contest read aloud (the winner will be publicly announced sometime next month); during our tour of an exact replica of Eli Lilly's original labratory (which was amazing, and humbling, and made me appreciate the crap out of how far we've come), or when they discussed their hopes and intentions for the Lilly/Disney books.

I think I got misty-eyed enough times that the folks at Lilly probably started wondering what was wrong with me.

This sort of stuff is so emotional though, when you're living with it. When you're thinking, this book can help so many kids feel better about living with diabetes; about being "different". This can help normalize something that feels so alienating. This is something that I wish I had grown up with. It's emotional when you see a photograph of the amount of beef and pork pancreases that it took to derive just one small bottle of insulin back in the day, and you learn that the location of that pile is still on-site (it's now the parking lot).

It's emotional when you see that in the main lobby of the whole building, they chose to erect a statue based on that famed photo you see in the case above; the one of the mother holding her child with type 1 diabetes, shortly before insulin treatment was available. You can feel the desperation and horror in the mother's face; the sheer agony in the son's. I saw this photo in a case at the Heritage Museum, and had to spin on my heel and walk away. I know there's a photo right underneath of him after starting insulin therapy (in his letter to Dr. Banting, he triumphantly wrote "I am a fat boy now and I feel fine"), but I just can't do it. That image breaks my heart in a thousand pieces. The line between life and death smells like bandaids and fear.

In summary - Lilly, and its history, cause me to feel a lot of things.

As for what else I took away from the day, I'll say that while there may be room for improvement (for example, I get close to zero value out of their LillyPad blog - I want to read patient stories, I want to learn about the PEOPLE behind the brand, and I want to know about the good they're doing in the diabetes community and beyond), I see Lilly as being very eager to engage in social media - even if they aren't quite sure what that will look like, or how exactly to do it within the regulatory confines they operate within. They appeared to be very open to feedback (for example, why are the Lilly/Disney books only available in endocrinology offices? If the whole point behind them is to help "normalize" diabetes, make the books available in "normal" book places - like public and school libraries), and willing to realize that social media actually means that they need to be social - it isn't a billboard. People need to be able to leave comments on blog posts, and Twitter accounts need to engage in the conversation.

They can also do a better job of letting people know the good they are doing - I know that I was one of many in the room who didn't realize Lilly had started a partnership with Walmart in 2010, in order to provide a lower-cost option for insulin users, for example.

In summary, I think Lilly is headed in a good direction when it comes to reaching out and interacting with the diabetes community. I hope the discussions we had and insight we provided can help continue the shift towards engagement with the customers they serve.

In other words: I appreciate both where they've been, and where they want to go.

Disclosure: Lilly Diabetes invited me to attend their 2012 "Blogger Summit", which occurred on 5/21/12. Lilly Diabetes paid for airfare, hotel, meals and transportation around Indianapolis during my stay. I was not asked to write about the event, but we all know that I totally will. They also gave us the books you saw above, along with a copy of "Breakthrough" by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg.

For more photos of the event, check out the ones I uploaded to Flickr.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

We've Got A Booth. WE'VE GOT A BOOTH.

Remember back in February, when I was all, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could get a table at Friends For Life for the You Can Do This Project"?

And then remember how, about five hours later, you guys totally blew me away with your speedy and generous donations, and we met (and then proceeded to exceed) the fundraising goal I had set?

And then (and then and then and then) I told you guys that we had a table reserved?

Well, I have good news. I must have a fairy godmother, because that table has now turned into a LEGIT BOOTH SPACE.

My heart, it soars.

As far as I can deduce, we're the only grassroots organization represented in "the hall", as I'm now referring to it. Everyone else is a registered non-profit, or a for-profit pharamceutical company, and probably has some sort of income that allows them big, cool signs and flashy give-aways.

You might be able to guess that we won't quite have that.

What we will have are passionate volunteers (some of the You Can Do This Project Advisory Team will be present, along with a few other friends in the community) willing to talk to people about what this intiative is all about, what resources they'll find through it, and how to participate, if they choose. We'll probably have some postcard-sized flyers to hand out, and maybe a couple other things. (For those wondering, the booth didn't cost extra. FFL very, very kindly offered me an "upgrade", as they had some rearranging of the hall space to do. I was happy to help.)

The money raised in February has secured the hall space for both FFL and TCOYD Des Moines, along with some of the printing costs for flyers and a sign. Somehow, I'll need to find the extra cash for things like giveaway rubber bracelets (how cool would it be for kids and adults alike with T1 to have that encouraging reminder to take home on their wrist?) and the other odds and ends that need to come together. Like, for example, a table. (Booths don't automatically come with them. Ironic, no? I was literally only paying for a table before.)

Anywho... that's the scoop at this point. I like to keep you all informed. This whole thing is aimed at getting more people and families connected to people who "get it" when it comes to life with diabetes, and it's about ALL of us supporting each other. I can't do this without you all. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Borrowed Inspiration.

From a wall at Lilly Diabetes US.

Disclosure: Lilly Diabetes invited me to attend their 2012 "Blogger Summit", which occurred on 5/21/12. Lilly Diabetes paid for airfare, hotel, meals and transportation around Indianapolis during my stay. I was not asked to write about the event, but we all know that I totally will.

Monday, May 21, 2012

You Can Do (And Vote For) This.

Great things are done by series of small things brought together. -Vincent van Gogh

* * * * *

A year ago, I had an idea in the middle of an elliptical workout.

Today, it's an actual thing that is helping people connect with others who feel like they feel; who live with the same thoughts and fears and challenges as them; who can reassure them that living with diabetes doesn't have to stop them from living a great life.

You all are actively changing the lives of people with diabetes. Your willingness to share helps someone else know they are not alone; feel connected; feel hope. What we are doing has real value for others, and I'm honored to be able to help facilitate that.

There are many great ideas in the diabetes community of how we can help each other, and I'm honored that the You Can Do This Project is among such fantastic company as a finalist for a DHF Seeds micro-grant. Voting opens today and ends Friday, June 15th at 5:00 PDT! (You can "vote" only once per person, by clicking "like" on the video and/or sharing it with others using the Vimeo sharing buttons.)

To find the You Can Do This Project's video, go here:

Thank you for your continued support!

Friday, May 18, 2012

#DBlogWeek: What They Should Know.

Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September. The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”. Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes. Have more than one thing you wish people knew? Go ahead and tell us everything.

* * * * *

Inspired by this morning's fasting number, I'd like people without diabetes to know that one number

always has a story behind it. And a person, with feelings and insecurities and a desire to do better, behind that story.

And in unrelated news, there's something I want YOU to know: Some familiar DOC faces and I will be at Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis on Monday for some sort of "blogger event", and I'd like your feedback on the kinds of things you want us to ask them. Leave a comment below! (Disclosure: Lilly Diabetes will be paying for my flights, acccomodations and meals during this trip. I am not being financially compensated for attendance.)

(P.S. Voting for the DHF Seeds grant begins on Monday - look out for the You Can Do This Project video I made to show up on the DHF Vimeo channel! Don't worry, I'll be all linky about it Monday morning.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

#DBlogWeek: Fantasy Diabetes Device.

Today's prompt: Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary. Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be? Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc etc etc. The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?

* * * * *

Everyone else has Siri.

I want a Bigi.

(Get it? Siri, but for diabetes?)

Can you imagine the possibilities? She has to know everything that's going on with me - linked in to my pump settings and history, various glucose meters, a built-in pedometer to account for my activity (or lack thereof), the ability to sync with other applications, a sense of what time of month it is (ahem), and a little bit of a Magic 8-Ball forecasting ability. Oh hell, and let's throw in the fact that she's an artificial pancreas, too. (Hey, it says fantasy device, right? This is my dream! I will have flying puppies made of sunshine if I want!)

One application to rule them all...

DONK DONK! "Bigi, how should I bolus for this sandwich?"

DINK DINK! "Kim, you were dancing half an hour ago, and you've dropped below 60 mg/dL between 2:00 am and 4:00 am the past three nights. Let's try 5 units but decrease your basal rate for four hours."

DONK DONK! "Why am I 352 right now?"

DINK DINK! "That sandwich had more carbs than Calorie King suggested. I'll remember that for the future."

DONK DONK! "When was the last time I did an infusion site change?"

DINK DINK! "You last changed your site on Tuesday. You still have 11 hours before it should be changed."

DONK DONK! "Where do you think I should put the new site?"

DINK DINK! "The last four sites were in your abdomen. How about your left leg, this time?"

DONK DONK! "I need to make an eye appointment for next week."

DINK DINK! "I found one open appointment time with your doctor next week. Do you want me to schedule it?"


DONK DONK! "Diabetes is lame, Bigi. I've been on the glucoaster all day."

DINK DINK! "Here are some blog posts you may want to read."

DONK DONK! "Does my insurance cover the test strips for this new meter?"

DINK DINK! "Yes, it looks like your co-pay would be $20 per month for those strips."

DONK DONK! "I want to go swimming for an hour."

DINK DINK! "You go ahead. I'll take care of your basal rates."

DONK DONK! "Someone just told me that I could cure type 1 diabetes with a vegan diet, and now I want to punch them."

DINK DINK! "I found three bars that are fairly close to you..."

#DBlogWeek: One Thing To Improve.

Today's prompt: Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

* * * * *

I've been sitting, staring at a blank screen (okay, who are we kidding - I checked Facebook a few times) for several minutes now, and this prompt is leaving me wondering:

How do I pick just one thing?

I mean, staying in range for more than a few hours? That's something to celebrate when it happens.

Food choices? Not always great.

Do I always remember to keep a coin with me for insulin battery changes? Nope.

And does that insulin pump work perfectly every time? 

Hmm... well what about pump site placement? I must be able to avoid veins by now, right?

Okay, well SURELY after 26 years, I'd having the sense to check my CGM before I brush my...


When it comes to diabetes and "areas to improve", most areas overlap. The whole experience is one big experiment; a never-ending cycle of try and try again - then, hey, what about trying again? Which, when I put it like that, sounds very Debbie Downer.

Apparently, my area to improve is "focusing on just one thing at a time".

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

#DBlogWeek: One Great Thing.

Today's prompt: Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”. But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit. Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly! Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes. Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

* * * * *

I'm not sure what this says about me, really, but I seem to have developed a reputation for bolusing for alcohol with some finesse - to the point that a fellow PWD recently texted me well into the night hours, asking for advice on a stubborn high after a couple of glasses of wine. They wanted to bolus, but didn't want to tank later while they slept (alone, and in an unfamiliar hotel room).

Again, should I be proud of this? Because, kids, it takes a lot of trial and error to get here. I emphasize errors. (It also takes finally admitting to yourself that mixed drinks are just a horrible idea all around, unless you can use a Diet mixer.) I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that a few years back, I would have LOVED to read how someone else did this, because I was clueless and needed to hear someone else's trials and tribulations.

I can only say what works for me, and it is said along with the typical disclaimers: I'm not giving anything even remotely resembling medical advice; don't try this at home; YDMV (your diabetes may vary); I'm not condoning drinking in general, OR drinking with diabetes; consult your doctor first, etc. etc.

Okay, now that THAT's out of the way...

If I drink, it tends to be white wine. Sometimes I'll try a red, and sometimes I'll have a cider beer or a "diet" mixed drink. If you can figure out the full-sugar drinks, more power to you; I just can't walk that tightrope very skillfully. After several years of stubbornness trying, I've pretty well given up. So what's the pattern, you may ask? What's the central piece of knowledge I've gleaned?

Wine will make me go a little higher for the first few hours, and then once I hit hour five, I start tanking.

Here's the deal with me and wine: if I start drinking before the meal (say, half an hour before) and the meal has some degree of fat in it (think Italian food), the two pretty much cancel each other out in terms of delayed spikes and drops, so I do a regular one-time bolus and let it ride.

If I didn't start drinking until after I've eaten some food, I bolus a little bit extra up front. Every time I hit that five hour mark, though, I start dropping. Hardcore. I need food in my stomach at that point, even with no IOB - really.

Am I recommending that you drink? Nope. But if you do, I hope you'll do it safely. I watch my Dexcom receiver like a hawk, and I check my blood sugar as often as I can remember. I can drop very, very quickly once those drinks have had a few hours to do their thing, and past experience has taught me to watch out.

It's also a great idea to let someone that you're out with know about your situation, as it were - and wear a medical ID, wuddya? You do not want things to go badly and have people not know how to help you (or, worse yet, just think you're extremely drunk and let you "sleep it off").

And if anyone can figure out and share how to bolus and stay under 200 (without dropping like it's hot) for sugary drinks - well, I'll buy you one.

 (If you want to know more about how diabetes and alcohol mix - go here.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

#DBlogWeek: Wildcard. (Already?)

Today's prompt is intended to get folks to share the blogs they read that others "may not know about". I'm hoping you'll scroll through my blogroll (see the lower left; you can click to expand) and check out some of those fabulous people!

I'm a bit swamped at the moment, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed in regards to fully participating in Diabetes Blog Week.

Why am I swamped? Well, I applied for a DHF Seeds micro-grant for the You Can Do This Project, and was selected as a finalist! This means that I'm now creating a short video to show the diabetes online community what my idea is, why they should vote to have it funded (the micro-grant is $2,000, spendable only on certain things), and what I'll spend the money on. I've been spending pretty much every free moment in the last two weeks on this video (I think Aaron's starting to forget what I look like), and I'm REALLY EXCITED for you all to see it when voting opens one week from today, on 5/21! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek. I'll leave it to you to guess the storyline. Suspense!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking Back: I'm A Jumper.

I noticed this morning that one of my floaters is back, which brings me back to this post from last year around this time. (Which then reminds me that I have an appointment to make.) Anyone else hear "floaters" and imagine little blobs wearing "floaties" and swimming around in your eye juice? Just me? Okay.

* * * * *

"Nope, nope... that doesn't have anything to do with diabetes. It's just a normal thing some people have."


For the last several months, I've noticed an occasional floater in my field of vision. It isn't always there, nor is it always in the same spot in my vision.

The only times I see it are at work; specifically, sometimes when I'm looking at my computer screen. But, not always then. It's just this bean-shaped blob that moves around with what I'm looking at.

Frankly, I'd been a bit scared about it.

My opthalmologist had seen a couple of microaneurysms in each eye shortly before I started using a CGM, which would have been in 2009. The technical term is mild non-proliferative retinopathy. In subsequent visits, he's told me that they've been healing/shrinking/running away scared, which is super, but it still scared the crap out of me that something was happening to my eyes. That I wasn't somehow immune to complications, after all.

I know it's a mild complication, but it had felt very major to me.

When I started seeing this floater, my mind understandably went to Worst Case Scenario - that 25 years of diabetes had finally started to take its toll. That my recent not-as-tight-as-before control was to blame. That I was to blame.

But I also told myself - if this was diabetes-related, wouldn't I be seeing it all the time? I guess that's the line of thinking that had me keeping my original yearly exam date, instead of scheduling the appointment for much earlier.

I didn't mind putting off the answer. If it was bad, I didn't want to hear it quite yet. (Yeah, I know.)

So when Dr. D asked me if I'd had any changes in my vision, I told him. I described what had been happening, and when. He took a look.

"Oh, no. No, your eyes look great. Actually, it looks like they're still getting better. That thing isn't diabetes-related. Some people just get those from time to time; you get just the right lighting or look a certain direction, and they show up for a little bit. Nothing to worry about."

Their opthalmologist must use
really strong dilation drops.
I drove home with my anime eyes, wanting to believe those last four words so much. But it's hard to put six months of worry into reverse so quickly.

And as for the title of this post - something must have been written down in my file, because when we got to the part where the thing touches your eye (I'm very technical with my terminology here), he had an assistant come in to hold my cranium against the head holster. Seriously; she applied force so that I couldn't react! (She was very nice and gentle with me, though. No rough-housing.)

I'm a jumper, apparently.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

[Almost] Wordless Wednesday: Fun?

I don't know what it is about the Walgreens App, but it makes me want to:

It makes refilling my multitude of prescriptions a bit fun, actually. Way to be, Walgreens.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Highly Uncomfortable.

If we're connected on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen that I had a bit of a scary HIGH on Friday. I haven't seen a number like that in... well, a really long time. Frankly, it freaked me the heck out.

So what can you do when it all goes wrong, despite doing everything "right"?

Apparently you grab the maple syrup out of your fridge, use groan-worthy puns, and attack a lion. (Sorry, Medtronic!)

(P.S. In case you're wondering who my furry friend is, he's Lenny the Lion - Medtronic's insulin pump mascot for kids, and kids at heart. His stomach, arms, legs and tush are made from polyurethane foam, which is fur-free and ready for kids to try out pump infusion sites on for practice. He's available from Medtronic's online store, and also from Build-A-Bear.)

(P.P.S. Disclosure: I received a free Lenny from Medtronic, as they sent one to all of the diabetes advocates who attended the Forum last month. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the use they had in mind.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Diabetes Blog Week - Are You In?

Head over to Bittersweet Diabetes to find out all about the 3rd annual Diabetes Blog Week! It begins a week from today, and Karen has made it super easy to participate by giving us a list of topics ahead of time, an easy-to-use form to sign yourself up with, and link lists so you can see where you can read each day's posts. Don't have a blog? Start one on Blogger or Wordpress, or use the built-in blogging function on one of the diabetes communities like TuDiabetes, Juvenation or Diabetes Daily.

What are you waiting for? Go sign up! (And big thanks to Karen for once again organizing this fantastic way to connect with the diabetes community!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Photo Friday: Travel Tomfoolery.

Top row: "So I guess I didn't lose this after all..."
Bottom row, L to R: Passing time at the airport; the only photo I managed to remember to take
while in NJ; my Blue Fridays acknowledgement.
To further explain the top photo...

Most of the way through eating breakfast in the hotel's restaraunt on Tuesday morning (where I was served the biggest portions of scrambled eggs and bacon that I've ever seen... really, it was like a mountain of bacon), I reached into my purse to check in with Jim, my Dexcom receiver.

Rumble rumble rumble... clink clank clink (that's me shaking the contents around a bit)... rumble rumble...

"Um, what? Where's my Dexcom?"

It wasn't in its usual pocket of my bag. It hadn't skydived to the bottom, or gotten stuck in the lining. It had not fallen out and taken respite in the booth cushions.

It wasn't anywhere.


Before breakfast, I had left my key in the room and taken my bags with me, as I figured I didn't need to go back up there for anything. Remembering that I had set the receiver on the bathroom counter as I rushed to get ready, I could only assume I had left it there. (Poor little guy, sitting all alone in the dark, in a strange hotel room...)

I coerced the front desk to give me a new key and scurried back up to my room, and just in time - the housekeeping cart was just two doors down from mine.

Barging into the room, I flicked on the bathroom light and expected to find my little blue Etch-A-Sketch - except it wasn't there.

What? Where else could it be?

I emptied my purse onto the bed, sure that I somehow missed it - nothing.

Table beside the bed, floor around the bed, desk - nothing.

With few plausible explainations left, I started to unpack my suitcase. And there, nestled between my pajamas and hairbrushes, was Jim. And not only that - he had been taking readings all through breakfast from inside my suitcase! What a guy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Smaller, Sexier, and Funky Fresh.

It was a harrowing drive home from the airport Tuesday night, as things quickly progressed from "Wow, that'a a lot of lightning" to "And there's the rain they were talking about" to "Crap, is that... hail? Oh HAIL no" to "OH #&*! I CAN'T SEE THE ROAD". It was as if I had to only think about the weather not being as severe as was expected in order for Mother Nature to be all, "Challenge accepted!" and unleash the ice cubes and break open the dam. It was very dramatic.

Wait, where was I going with this? Why was I at the airport? And why did I miss a day of work at my "real job" to fly to New Jersey for 19 hours?

Tuesday marked the U.S. launch of a new type of blood glucose meter: the iBGStar. The big deal with this little guy is that it plugs into an iPhone or Touch, and the corresponding app will track and chart your results (and allow you to email them to, say, your doctor) as well as giving you the option to log carbs and insulin. The meter is very teeny tiny (roughly the size of a flash drive), and can be used independent of your i-device, or in correlation with it.

Did you catch that? It plugs into a freaking iPhone. What is this, the future? Where is my hoverboard?

Sanofi US Diabetes brought a handful of what they dubbed "Key Online Opinion Leaders" (which creates the uncomfortable acronym "KOOL" - cringe) to their headquarters in Bridgewater, NJ to hear all about it, test drive the actual meter, and be able to ask questions directly of the people involved in the product's launch. I somehow ended up on that list, along with a few other familiar (and some, less so - to me) faces.

From L to R: Shawna Gvazdauskas, VP and Device Head US Diabetes;
Brian Dolan; Riva Greenberg; Emily Coles; Laura Kolodjeski,
Sr. Manager, Patient Solutions; Allison Blass; me; Adam Brown;
Kerri Sparling; Kelly Close. Not pictured: Leighann Calentine;
David Kliff.
Photos courtesy of Sanofi
Let me start out here by saying that my learning curve tends to be pretty steep when it comes to stuff like this. I don't consider myself an expert, journalist, industry insider, or any other official-sounding term when it comes to the diabetes world - I'm a story (over)sharer. I never paid much attention to the business side of things until the last couple of years. And even then - I'm sure I've missed a bunch.

That said, I was pretty impressed during the few hours I spent with the Sanofi team. The attitude described by Shawna Gvazdauskas is that Sanofi wants to "delight their customers": notice that she said customers, not "patients". (That kind of thoughtful word choice was apparent throughout the afternoon - "check" instead of "test; the omission of "good" and "bad" from the BG vocabulary; etc.) That's the reality now: most people with diabetes have more choices than ever, and pharma has to compete and exceed the expectations of end-users to keep up. This means that Sanofi is looking more and more to meet people "at their lives, not just at their disease". Give us what fits into our lives, instead of something that we then have to find a way to fit into our lives. Give us something that helps us feel better about doing something that you don't like doing in the first place.

So what might you want to know about this meter?

  • The iBGStar received FDA approval in December of last year, so why the long wait? They wanted to make sure they had the product available in multiple channels (which it is now, through places like Walgreens and Apple stores - no kidding) for people once it was released. Once that was in place, they could officially "launch" it in the U.S.
  • If you compare the kits in, say, Walgreens vs. Apple stores, you'll notice a price difference: $74.95 at Walgreens (which comes with 10 test strips) and $99.95 at Apple (which comes with 50 strips, since they don't sell the strips seperately).
  • You may also wonder, is there a case available that houses the combined device and meter? Yep, there is, and I'm told that it will be available through a loyalty program. It only comes in black at this point. (I clicked around for a while once I registered my meter and couldn't find anything about the case... this might be a "down the road" thing, so don't quote me here.)
  • Sanofi has a "Star Savings" program - this is where actually registering your meter on the iBGStar site will come in handy - which you can sign up for on their website. You can either print off the savings card or have it texted to you. (I opted for the latter - shocking to no one, likely.) Provided that you aren't using Medicare or don't live in MA, the card will get you twelve monthly refills for no more than $20 [EDIT: They are $20 refills, providing that your insurance is covering the script. If not, the card only knocks $25 off the retail price for each box. Details can be found here on how that works.] I have no idea about insurance coverage at this point, but I can tell you that our insurance provider (one of the big ones) told me yesterday that it wasn't covered yet. Bummer.
  • This meter is marketed to a very niche market, and Sanofi knows that: people with diabetes (or caregivers) who also own an iPhone or Touch. That amounts to approximately 1.6 million people in the U.S. - cool technology, but it's not available to a whole lot of people. And for those using an Android, the official word was that "other smart phones are under investigationbut [they] have nothing more to share at this time". 
  • iBGStar's test strips have a "fill window", and the meter apparently won't begin the countdown until that fill window is... well... filled. Less error messages and wasted strips? Yes, please.
  • The meter can be used independently of an i-device, and once plugged in again will "catch up" everything that's been missed into the application, once you've opened it.
  • There are no claims of superior accuracy with this meter. It's on par with most other meters out there.

I think it's a really slick little meter. Among other things, I asked about the aesthetics of the accessories that come with the meter - the test strip bottle, the lancing device - because you'll notice that while the meter may be sleek and modern, it is flanked by equipment that is decidedly not.

New hotness, right next to old and busted. (It's not really busted.
Just click the link. It will make sense.)
All told, I look forward to test driving this for a while - as well as watching the neat-o graphics that happen inside the application while the meter counts down. (I'm not telling you what they are - no spoilers!) I also look forward to seeing what else Sanofi (and others) have up their sleeves - word on the street is that there are a whole line of "Star" products in the works, as Sanofi delves deeper into the "diabetes devices" ocean.

[EDIT: Apparently, I won't be trying this out for a while - my insurance won't cover the strips yet, and unfortunately a month's worth of strips for me is about equal to a car payment. So - back to the One Touch meters after these 10 strips are gone! Bummer.]

Disclosure: Sanofi US Diabetes paid for my flights, ground transportation and hotel while I was in New Jersey, as well as some of my meals. I received an iBGStar meter at the meeting, which was mine to keep. I was not asked to write about this event.

Also, hat tip to Cherise Shockley for the title of this post. Funky fresh, indeed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Looking Back: I Have A Few Questions.

I first shared this post in February of 2011, and I'm still finding that all of these questions are still unanswered. I'd now like to add to the list, "When can my Dexcom display be available as an app on my iPhone?".

* * * * *

Why do the most accurate CGM sensor sites also have to be the itchiest?

Why do I only start to drop low after I've brushed my teeth?

Why can't Dexcom covers come in colors like aqua blue, orange, green or purple?

Why, on the nights I most need sleep, does Jim decide to make stuff up about my blood sugar and thusly wake me up every half hour with a BRRR BRRR BRRR BRRR! from the nightstand? (That's my impersonation of him vibrating, by the way.)

How is it possible that I can access the internet from my phone, but I can't access my basal rates from my meter remote?

Why do the Animas cartridge needles make my Humalog bottles leak drops of insulin while I'm filling them? (I've learned recently that I'm not the only one this happens to...)

Why do I sometimes feel like I'm dropping low, when I'm really not?

Why, when I get sick, does it take me three weeks to recover, instead of the three days it appears to take everyone else?

Why can't I keep myself from smirking when the nurse giving me my flu shot says "This might hurt a little"? (And why do I almost always feel the need to tell her that I'm used to it, because I have diabetes?)

And why does the world not yet have an integrated Animas/Dexcom system?!