Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Handy and Dandy But Not Just For Fun

While we wait for a cure, the improvement of diabetes care using medical technology is very important to our family.  It isn't to be trendy or to become digi-heads.  I am only interested if I feel it will actually help either one of my children in obtaining a higher quality of life.  To me, a higher quality of life includes the ability to feel better emotionally or physically.  After all, our invisible disease can wreck havoc on not only our bodies but our minds too.

When our youngest daughter was diagnosed in 2006, we were immediately given a box of syringes by our hospital nurses.  In the initial learning trainwreck, these tiny BD Ultra-Fine II needles were very intimidating.  The 1/2 unit markings were difficult to see and as parents giving their first injections, we were terrified to draw and dispense an incorrect dose.  A few weeks in and we were old pros.  Something about 6 injections per day will do that to you.


After a few months of reviewing the massive logs of poking, it seemed like there had to be a better piece of technology.  After a few nights of googling, I stumbled across the I-Port.  One slightly larger needle inserted cannula allowed a port to be open with which to insert the syringe.  Brilliant!  The port cannula immediately reduced the number of pokes from a three day total of 18 to 1.  Our daughter loved it with the exception that the port often became unglued when she entered any body of water, even the nightly shower would wash it off.


This brought us to researching our first insulin pump.  The Johnson and Johnson Animas 2020.  At the time (2007) it dispensed the smallest amount of basal insulin.  For a three year old, this was incredibly important as her total body weight was not quite 30lbs.  Her tiny size combined with toddler eating habits made long lasting insulin dangerous to the degree that a smidge of a unit was often too much.  The Animas 2020 helped to solve the MDI issue by allowing us to shut off basal rates at night and to keep her safe while her body fluctuated in the honeymoon state.


A little more than one year later (2008), a new pump from J&J went on the market.  The pump was named the Animas Ping.  With all of the features of the Animas 2020, it also had a new feature referred to as a meter/remote.  The remote, which was also a One -Touch meter, allowed the user to stand away from the child and simply direct in a bolus of insulin much like using a remote to change television stations on a t.v., hence "pinging" the signal and correct dose.  We loved it!  It freed the school staff from having to remove a pump from under a dress or to have us parents stop a child in mid-play to be dosed for a cracker. 


About two years later, our oldest daughter was diagnosed at age 8.  Instantly, we started her on an Animas Ping.  Nothing like sisterly sharing.  It only made sense to share diabetes supplies and keep things consistent in our house.  The upside was that all training occurred at home and as soon as Fed-Ex made a delivery, our oldest daughter was off and pumping.  At age 8, this was a life-saver.  Puberty, growth hormones and sports have made pumping even more necessary.

As our older daughter grew, we realized that pumping alone wasn't enough to combat the barrage of physical changes and exercise demands.  Our research online and through discussion with other adult's with Type 1 Diabetes led us to the DexCom 7 Plus Continuous Glucose Monitor.  Truly, this is the best invention that we have found yet.  The CGM allows us to reduce the number of blood glucose checks while still watching the monitor for unexplained high and low blood sugars.  Both of girls now wear their CGMs to after school functions, sleepovers, field trips and vacations - places that used to be difficult to manage the highs and lows without a million little checks.


We await new proposed technology such as the Animas Vibe which is only available in Europe.  The Vibe combines the best of pumping with an integrated CGM. 


As a mom, I am hoping for the day where I can review both of my daughter's blood sugars from a remote location with perhaps an I-phone App.  I have also heard of a meter product that will one day be integrated into a new car, enforcing the rule that good blood sugars must be in place before getting behind the wheel. There is also the promise of a closed loop pump which sounds promising.

My mind is wide open to the variety of ways to manage "our" (children's) type 1 diabetes.  The only thing that I scoff at is the widely Internet circulated natural cure using vinegar or cinnamon.  If there was a cure, we would all have been on top of it by now!

While a cure is our distant light, modern technology keeps our future bright.

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