Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Try Before You Buy

Several years ago we were curious about the Omnipod as a replacement for Cassie's insulin pump. An all-in-one pump and infusion set that sticks to your body was a pretty compelling proposition- no more cords to worry about.

But making a switch requires a big financial gamble. Pumps are expensive and our insurance will allow us a new system only once every 4 years. That's a pretty big commitment. Thankfully the Insulet Corporation, who makes Omnipod had a free demo kit to try it out. We ended up not choosing the device (it felt too big* for little Cassie's arm, but the demo experience was invaluable.

I learned this week that Integrated Diabetes Services is now offering the same kind of trial service for continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). It's not free, but I feel it's cheaper than committing to a new piece of technology based solely on a corporate sales pitch. It's also neat that you can compare; they offer the Dexcom, Navigator, or Medtronic - all the major players. It's a neat way to try before you buy.

* Insulet previewed its new smaller omnipod at the recent 2011 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. It's expected to be available to the public around 2012, pending FDA approval.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hallie's Valentine

It's easy to feel horribly alone on days like February 14th. It's kinda like that with diabetes too. Many PWDs that I know had never met another person with Type 1 face to face until years after their diagnosis. Serena told me about her brother who almost married a girl just because she had T1 too. That's the wrong reason for romance indeed.

But if you're ever feeling alone because diabetes is in your life - just watch this video made by Hallie (The Princess and the Pump). You're not alone.

Hugs from the Maxwells on this Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

10 Reasons

Monday was a blue Monday. Cassie had run high all night and all day. Her blood glucose target is 80-90 mg/dl and it hovered around 300 mg/dl for over 24 hours -- three times what it is for someone with a working pancreas. At one point her blood sugar was so high that the glucose meter reported the dreaded "HI" reading which means her bg level was higher than the machine could register.

After more than a decade of managing diabetes, I can easily attribute the causes for a high blood sugar to any of the following:

1. Administered wrong amount of insulin after a meal or snack
2. The insulin is bad (may be old, been in heat, bad batch)
3. No reason
4. The pump site needs changing
5. Diabetes has decided to throw everyone a curve
6. The meter or strips are faulty
7. Hormones (growth spurt or menses, for example)
8. Emotional stress
9. Sickness (coming down with a cold or toothache)
10. It's a mystery

The causes for a low blood sugar - same. You'll notice that more than half of the list is out of your control. Sigh.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Minding Manners

I know they mean well. I really do. But sometimes friends and family all too easily put a foot in their respective mouths when they offer advice about diabetes to those of us who live with it day by day.

In order to help avoid these gaffes, diabetes etiquette could go a long, long way. For a parent or a PWD (person with diabetes) its important to arm yourself with patience and the willingness to educate and correct misconceptions about the disease.

Zach shared a nifty link to an etiquette cheat sheet that may help out.

Don't forget that good manners is a two way road. Take a deep breath. Concentrate. Pray for patience.

It's good etiquette, and you could make Emily Post proud.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Cure Debate

Last year, JDRF announced a partnership with Johnson & Johnson and Dexcom for the Artificial Pancreas Project (APP). The internet discussion boards and blogosphere ignited with a huge amount of debate about this issue. Some outraged parents felt betrayed that JDRF had "given up" on finding a cure.

I think many of these online rants were short sighted and may have been unjustly charged by strong emotion.

The fact of the matter is, I don't feel that JDRF has ever lost sight of a cure for diabetes. But a cure for many of us also involves reversing its complications. Or preventing diabetes in our children and grandchildren. Better therapeutics can be by-products or milestones towards an ultimate cure. None of these things have to be mutually exclusive. And I'm happy to have personally witnessed how this organization explores many different avenues to get us closer to cures and treatments.

Yesterday, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) announced that they have signed an agreement to fund early-stage research that could enable patients with type 1 diabetes to regenerate insulin-producing cells destroyed by the disease. Isn't this a potential pathway to a cure? Yep. It could very well be. But I don't want to place all my bets on this one line of research either.

There are some interesting discussions on this subject going on right now. Check it out on children with diabetes and juvenation.

Disclosure- I serve as a national VOLUNTEER for JDRF. I don't do this for some unspecified loyalty to the foundation. Rather, I do it on behalf of my wife and daughter, and I feel that joining the founding parents who created this organization gives my family the best shot at life without the burden of diabetes.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Daddy Beat Down

I'll never forget the first time my friend David was beaten one-on-one by his teenage son. David had played college ball for the UNC Tarheels and has always been a fierce competitor on the court. Even when little Austin was 8 years old, David never allowed an easy layup nor open jump shot. David would even issue a little trash talk now and then to fire his son up. Following that monumental loss, a sweaty and winded David simultaneously felt self-disappointment and fatherly pride. Austin beamed - knowing that he had earned the win.

Last month, Cassie kinda pulled the same thing on me. Calculating her after meal bolus, she accurately entered the carbohydrate intake into her insulin pump, before I even had a chance to fully cipher the amount for her. Her knowledge of carbohydrate counting now easily overshadows mine (I still cheat with the 2011 Calorie King periodically). Bruised ego aside, I'm happy that she can outdo me in this regard. She's becoming so much more independent. High fives all around.