Review: Balancing Diabetes by Kerri Sparling

Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me has recently published her first book Balancing Diabetes: Conversations About Finding Happiness and Living Well. I purchased a copy last week and received it Friday.  I’ve since devoured it. (And highlighted a lot of it…..all the things I connect with, all the things I said ‘Yes! Me too!’ to…)

If you haven’t read it, you need to.  You will not regret it.Image

Kerri writes in a way that all PWD can relate to and understand, as she calls upon her own experiences, emotions, and thoughts.  But she doesn’t stop there – she gets the viewpoints of many other PWD as well.

What drew me in to the book initially is that we were the same age when we were diagnosed, neither of us really have memories of ‘life before diagnosis’.  But beyond that I found so many other things I could connect to; I often felt like I was reading my own story and my own thoughts.  

Kerri understands, intimately, what it is like to be diagnosed young, but she also does a wonderful job of connecting to PWD who were diagnosed later in life and spotlights their stories and experiences in her book just as much as she does the story of herself and others diagnosed young.

She gives practical advice on things such as handling diabetes at college/away from parental guidance for the first time, diabetes and relationships/love, diabetes and pregnancy, diabetes and exercise, fitting all kinds of D-tech into your life, etc.

It was a refreshing look at diabetes (especially Type 1) in general. I feel that so many books on diabetes are either very medical or very scientific and don’t give as much credit to the social-emotional aspects of diabetes and the ways in which diabetes realistically affects daily life. This book delivered on all those counts.

I will definitely be reading it again…but for now I’ve passed it off to my husband in the hopes that he will read it as well.

Miss Manners and the DOC

There has been a big hullabaloo in the DOC the past few days due to advice given to a diabetic traveler via an advice article written by “Miss Manners” (you can read it on this page).

Basically, she told a diabetic traveler that the polite thing to do when needing to test blood glucose on an airplane (or anywhere away from home) is to excuse yourself to the bathroom.

Now, I do not agree with this. No one in the DOC agrees with this. Bathrooms are gross and dirty. Diabetes already comes with a massive dose of attached stigma, and hiding away to manage it isn’t a good way to promote healthful habits. Also, in emergencies it’s just plain ridiculous to expect someone to search out a bathroom. Etc. etc. etc.

I understand the DOC’s outrage and the general desire to let “Miss Manners” know why her advice is ill-founded. Besides the comments on the original web page, there are now countless blogs from fellow bloggers calling out this woman on her advice.

Here is where my main issue with all of this lies….

“Miss Manners” is an elderly woman (look her up, her name is Judith Martin). She grew up in an era vastly different than the present. Ideas of manners and polite behavior were different. Chronic disease management wasn’t the same as it is now. Yes, what she said was ignorant. And kudos to those who let her know that in a respectful way. I have only seen a couple people who did.

Many comments and blogs told an elderly woman to go ‘f yourself’ or ‘suck it’. I don’t care how misguided someone is, I was taught to respect my elders. I am shocked and dismayed at how many in the DOC are expressing themselves and making us, as a community, appear. Frankly, now we all look like a bunch of highly defensive a-holes. How many would actually say ‘f you’ or something else highly derogatory to an elderly woman’s face? I am guessing few to none. But by being behind keyboards and computer screens, the filters come off.

We talk about advocacy. We talk about educating. Both are admirable goals in regards to what we need to do.

But let’s do it with class and poise.

My New T:slim

Yesterday my replacement pump arrived in the mail. I did not hook up to it immediately as I was at my parents’ and we were about to eat dinner and I really wanted to hook up to it without the added confusion of bolusing for Chinese food.

When I did hook up I noticed right away during the priming step that this replacement pump was much quieter than my original. My original made all kinds of interesting clunking and clanking noises that this one does not. In addition I realized that my screen-on button was starting to stick on my old pump and until I saw it in comparison to the replacement pump I hadn’t even noticed it.

The most important thing is that I woke up with a blood sugar of 116. Considering I am fighting a lot of pain as I broke my arm on Monday and I’m still only in a temporary cast, this is a pretty good number!

2 Day T:slim Hiatus

I am on a 2 day hiatus from my t:slim pump, back on my old out-of-warranty Animas Ping which I am glad I kept around as a backup.

In the past two weeks I have had some very frequent and unexplainable highs.  Like……go to bed in range and wake up almost 500 then take all day to get back to normal highs.  I’ve done a lot of change-outs and have ruled out that it’s the cartridges, infusion sets, or insulin…as I’ve had this issue with at least two lot numbers of each of these changing components.

I’ve increased the amount of insulin I give for corrections, basal rates, and my I:C ratio and my BGs are still averaging 210+ the past two weeks (I am normally around 120).

I am not stressed out (now…two weeks ago going into finals I was, but that’s all done and over now) nor am I sick.

Because I ruled all these things out I thought to myself ‘Self, it might be your pump’. So last night after a frustrating shift at work that involved me giving up and giving manual injections, I dusted off my old Ping, got it all set up, and hooked up.

I was great at bedtime. I went a little low (65) in the night. After a juice box I woke up a few hours later at 145.  I haven’t been under 175 in the morning in two weeks.

This seemed to me like the Ping was working – and the t:slim was not.

I called Tandem Diabetes this morning and spoke with a rep. I was frustrated because I told her I had ruled out insulin, cartridges, infusion sets, etc. but I understand it’s her job to rule those out as well. I was slightly offended when she implied I might be doing something wrong – I have been pumping for 5.5 years – the last 16 months of this has been with the t:slim, and I haven’t had problems. I also know how to troubleshoot if I DO run into issues. I was not patient while she asked me to prime insulin through the tubing and verify I saw insulin drip out or when she asked me to bolus into the air and verify insulin was dripping out. Because I saw insulin she seemed to rule out that the pump wasn’t giving me insulin and asked me to hook back up, at least for a few hours and see how I was a few hours later. I did NOT want to do this, and I said so, but I agreed to do it in the hopes this would prove what I believe to be true (that the pump wasn’t giving me insulin correctly).

I had corrected for my 145 while still on my Ping, but I gave my breakfast bolus with the t:slim.

Just two hours later I felt nausea setting in – and my BG was nearly 400.

I didn’t wait for the Tandem rep to call me back – I called her. I informed her where my blood sugar was and she finally (in my opinion) seemed to be really listening to me and showing the concern I was hoping for.

I have a replacement pump coming Tuesday, and I should be getting a phone call from Tandem on Thursday to follow-up with me and see how things are going. I am hopeful this will resolve the issue.

I truly do love my t:slim. Despite this problem I still would recommend this pump.  After all, there is no pump on the market that has had no issues. My theory on what went wrong with this pump is that it’s either not giving the boluses/corrections in the amounts it should, or it’s not giving a basal.  I will be sending my original t:slim back to Tandem, and I hope that someone in their engineering department can figure out what went wrong. If I hear anything I will post it here.

Oh and if a Tandem rep named Libby is reading this – I’m sorry if I seemed rude or impatient with you. I get that way when I am frustrated – and I was frustrated because this device that is keeping me alive wasn’t doing something it should have….that’s kind of a frustrating (and scary) situation, you know?

Up&Up Premium Blood Glucose Meter: A Closer Look

Yesterday I received my new meter, courtesy of Agamatrix. I performed several tests yesterday against my standard meter (One Touch Verio IQ) to see how close the results were. Here is what I found:

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Pretty close.  Not perfect, but two of the tests were within 5 mg/dl (and my test this morning, not pictured, was 2 mg/dl apart).

There are several things I like and dislike about this meter:

Like:

  • I like the bold red color of the meter
  • I love the small size – it’s even smaller than my Verio IQ
  • It’s easy to use and to program
  • It gives me smiley faces if my BG is in a good range (you can change this range – mine is set from 70-140) – it may seem cheesy but sometimes you just want to see a smiley face after you poke your finger to make yourself bleed
  • The strips come in containers of 50. I know, One Touch Verio strips now also come in containers of 50 but they didn’t used to – and that was annoying. It always seemed like there was so much spare space in the containers. So I like that right off the bat I can say Agamatrix is making the best use of space and plastic materials (have I mentioned how much I hate the amount of waste having diabetes creates?).
  • It displays the date and time on the screen, even when not being used

Dislikes:

  • I dislike the case it c omes in because it’s so small I can’t fit my beloved Multiclix lancing device in it – I will have to find a different case.
  • I dislike the lancing device that comes with this meter. (I’m weirdly picky about my lancing devices)
  • It has no strip port light for testing in the dark, which I’ve come to love (and yes, take for granted) with my Verio IQ
  • The screen is highly reflective, meaning it can be hard to read
  • The screen lights up – but it’s one of those old-school indiglo-esque backlights that isn’t very bright and makes me think of the 90s
  • It uses TWO CR2032 batteries…….I am used to being able to CHARGE my Verio IQ so it will be an adjustment to return to buying batteries

Despite my dislikes, it tests close enough to my Verio IQ to make it worth the $612/yr it will save me in test strip copays and I will be switching over to it full-time in January or February.

Thank you again to Agamatrix for sending me the meter, a vial of 50 test strips, a bottle of control solution, and 2 logbooks. I appreciate being given the chance to take this meter for a test run before committing fully to it.

Agamatrix: An Update

I recently posted about my frustration in not being able to give an Up&Up Premium Blood Glucose Meter a test run before committing to it by changing over my RXs,etc.

A marketing representative of Agamatrix reached out to me via email today and has let me know that they will be sending me a complimentary meter and strips to my address and apologized for any frustration caused.

This was a big surprise.  I did not expect this (a. I thought the issue was settled and b. I had only inquired about strips). 

I truly appreciate this move on their part, but find it interesting at the same time because there seems to be a disconnect between customer service and marketing.

Either way, I look forward to testing the meter out against my OneTouch Verio IQ and if I find it to be accurate I look forward to switching to that meter full-time.

A New Meter

I love love LOVE my OneTouch Verio IQ meters, and I’m very much looking forward to the OneTouch Verio Sync.

However….

My insurance coverage will be changing next month and my copay per month on strips will be $55.  I go to a Target Pharmacy and I was informed by a pharmacist that if I used an Up&Up Premium Blood Glucose Meter (manufactured by Agamatrix) I would be eligible for their $4 a month program.

Yes. $4 a month.  For all my strips.  $4 for 250 strips.

That’s mind-boggling!

However….I’m not willing to give up on my OneTouch meters without having an idea of how this other meter stacks up in comparison, in terms of accuracy. The meters are not sold with any sample strips, however.

Last time I was at Target I checked the OTC prices on the strips for that meter…..they are priced almost exactly like the OneTouch strips. Which means I cannot afford to purchase them OTC.

My insurance will not split a RX for the month and pay for me to get half my strips for one meter and half for the other, so that’s not an option.

I tried emailing Agamatrix and explained all of this and asked if it was possible to obtain a small sample (10!) of strips and got two responses. The first basically said ‘I’m not sure we can help you, but send us your address and I’ll forward this to my manager and we’ll see what happens.’  So I sent back my address and waited.

Less than 6 hours later I had my answer:

Kari,

Thank you. I am afraid Management has made it clear to me that our policy prohibits us sending you any strips.

If you had the strips, we could send you a free Premium meter.  We just cannot send strips.  Thank you.

Uh….yeah.  Well, then….I guess you don’t want me to switch to your meter.  Cause I am NOT willing to do it blindly.  What if the meter is highly inaccurate for me? I don’t want to go through the hassle of changing my RX over just to have to change it back again. And if it’s inaccurate and I’ve changed my RX over, I’ll have at least 250 strips….which I will feel compelled to use.

So I guess it isn’t happening, unless I can find another way to score a small sample of strips to test a meter with.

I’m disappointed with Agamatrix – I know many companies (OneTouch, Bayer…) are willing to send a small sample of strips to someone who is genuinely interested in trying out one of their meters, in the hopes they will gain that person as a customer.  It’s a non-issue.  So I’m not sure why it’s an issue for Agamatrix, but I think it’s unfortunate.  With this kind of decision, people aren’t necessarily ready to shell out money for something they haven’t tested at least once or twice.

(Note: If anyone reading this uses any of the Agamatrix store-branded Premium Blood Glucose Meters or the Wavesense Jazz (which is essentially the exact same meter, but again….branded differently upon manufacture) – do you find them to be accurate? Have you compared them to other meters? How do they stand up if tested against a blood draw?)