Humans Are Building Better Versions of Themselves by Mike Riggs (Reason.com)

When my wife was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the late 1990s, at the age of 9, the technology available for giving her body insulin, which her pancreas is supposed to make but can’t, was relatively primitive: Mollie measured her blood sugar with a device the size of a TV remote. It took a full minute to process the blood sample she provided, which could be obtained only by pricking her finger once for every reading. Administering the insulin required a syringe, a vial, and the assistance of an adult. The hardest part of jabbing herself throughout the day, she says now, was learning to ignore the child’s natural instinct to avoid pain.

It was also frighteningly easy back then to take too much insulin. When she was in middle school, my father-in-law found Mollie unconscious from hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause brain death and cardiac arrest. Her first year after college, she ended up in the E.R. again, this time because she hadn’t taken enough insulin.

It could’ve been worse: Until the mid–20th century, Type 1 diabetics seldom survived adolescence.

Although I don’t agree with the headline (I would rather have a working pancreas), diabetes technology has come a long way. While having type 1 diabetes changed my life, I’m glad to be living at a time when technology can reduce the burden of diabetes management.

This is what American big tech could be working on instead of “how to increase advertising revenue by data-mining personal information”.

DSC02202.JPGShe called me in from the waiting room. We entered the exam room and we sat down. She started explaining how to use the device, a Dexcom 7 continuous glucose meter (CGMS). She explained that it consisted of three parts, a sensor, a transmitter and a receiver. The sensor would be embedded just under my skin, the transmitter would send readings every minute to the receiver which I had to keep within 5 feet of my body. Easy enough.

She walked me through calibrating the Dexcom ( two sequential meter readings uploaded to the Dexcom from a OneTouch Ultra ) and reminded to make one meter reading every 12 hours to keep the 7 updated. She then handed me some sheets of paper for keeping a food and insulin dosage log. She also wrote down her phone number. “Call me if you have any questions or issues”.

She then showed me how to insert the sensor ( on my belly ) and snap in the sensor. Quite painless I must say.

I left. The first day was a little frustrating. The 7 kept telling me I had a low ( below 70 ) but my meter ( if in doubt test ) said I was over 100. Hmm … three more finger pricks later and I had the 7 in tune with reality. Or so I thought.

I are lunch and fully expected that two hours later my BG would be about 120. Nope. The 7 says I am 256. The meter says 134. Sigh! Recalibrate again. I finish up my work day and head home for dinner.

My wife and kids want to see the “alien” on papa. “Does it hurt”, asks my 7 year old. She’s so cute.

Around 10 PM the 7 buzzes and displays a blood droplet icon. Time to calibrate. One more finger prick ( that’s over 10 today ) and I am off to dreamland. Er … ahh .. not quite… the 7 wakes me up around 2 PM. “LOW!”. I test, curse at the frackin device, and go back to bed.

Day two and three were similar although there was much less testing. About 4 per day.

So what’s the frackin point again!!

Yesterday, my endo and I looked at the numbers from my FreeStyle Flash. He plots a graph. “This look good”. My average BG is 104.

Do I really need to join the collective.


Technorati Tags:
,