Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sensor Redux

I feel that after all the rants I’ve posted about this sensor study, I ought to post an update on how I feel now. Two major things have changed. Number one was, I decided since the BG meter they wanted us to use wasn’t accurate at normal-to-low BG, that anytime I thought my BG was in the normal-to-low range, I would use my regular meter and manually enter the BG into the sensor. That has helped a lot with its accuracy. It’s still off, but now it says I’m 95 when I’m 65, not 40.

The second thing is, they’ve come out with a 2.0 transmitter and pump software. I had to go trade in what I’ve been using since Christmas, and start the new ones. This is to help with the long warm-up time, where you start a new sensor and it’s 120 points off for 12 hours. Now it does seem to reach its typical accuracy after about 3 hours.

So is it now at the point where I would use it? Yeah, I’d say so. The catch? My Animas pump is only 2 years old, so even if I wanted this, my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. On the other hand, I’ve gotten really used to being able to see the trends of what my BG is doing. The solution? The day I have to turn this in, I’m buying a DexCom. And keeping my fingers crossed my insurance will pick up at least some of the sensors. We’ve got six months of data to show how volatile my BG is, how I don’t have a hope of controlling it without continuous monitoring. So maybe they’ll pay for it. If not, well, starting in September we’ll be done with daycare, except the elementary before-school care, which is $500 less a month than we’re paying now. We’ll use that. Of course, it would be nicer if we could actually have a savings account, and we’ll have 3 kids to send to college starting in 6 years. But when you think of the possible expense of not having it…

So, for anyone who is planning on getting this integrated pump and sensor, here’s my top 5 tips/tricks/cheats. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, blah, blah, blah, but here’s what I would do were I to keep this thing:
  • 1. Never use a BD logic meter.
  • 2. Be aware – this pump eats batteries.
  • 3. When it claims to have a calibration error, don’t give it another BG value for at least an hour.
  • 4. Unless you’re actually low when you calibrate, check the sensor isig value first. If it’s under about a 9.5, it’s not ready yet. Wait a bit.
  • 5. If it says the sensor is bad, leave the sensor in, and tell the pump you’ve just put in a new sensor. Nine times out of ten that works and the sensor initializes happily and has no problems.
  • 6. That same strategy also seems to work when your sensor has hit the end of its 36-hour life span. Tell the pump it’s a new one, and leave it in. The FDA says not to do it, but they aren’t paying for the damned things.

    At the same time I start the DexCom, I am also going to start trying Symlin for the spikes at breakfast. We’ll see how that goes….
  • Friday, May 19, 2006

    At what point does it become OK to blame the victim?

    Last week a “friend-of-a-friend” (type 2, diet controlled) was hospitalized in diabetic coma. She’s doing OK now, still in the hospital, but my friend was asking me questions like “Is 1200 a high blood sugar?” (you bet!). The doctor said she will need to be on insulin from now on, so I was explaining about how sometimes with type 2 the beta cells burn out and just can’t produce any more. In the course of the conversation it turned out the the woman in the hospital has not been to a doctor or tested her BG in more than ten years!

    Made me want to hop into a time machine, go back ten years, and slap her when it might still do some good. I didn’t want to upset my friend, but lord knows what kinds of complications Hospital Woman has set herself up for. Or what kind of success she’ll have now that she has to pay attention to her disease.

    I can understand getting burned out with a tight regimen. I personally think it’s worse to have to constantly refuse food you love than to just bolus for what you’re eating. But I can’t understand someone being told you have a serious disease, and just never bothering to do anything other than decide you’ll only have cake on special occasions.

    I guess I just can't help feeling a bit pissed off at Hospital Woman. If someone had told me there was something I could have done to avoid taking insulin for the rest of my life, believe me, I would have done it. She has a niece or something with Type 1. Doesn't she know how much this sucks? Doesn't she realize she just threw away what I wish I still had, a body that works on automatic?