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Life Update

Two weeks with the FreeStyle Libre.

Hey, folks. I’ve had my continuous glucose meter for a little over two weeks now; just installed a new sensor puck on my right arm after two on the left.

I have to say that this is definitely an experience that has been worth it. Knowing that I can wave a piece of hardware at my arm and get a number that has minimal lag compared to a capillary stick has been enlightening, and honestly, helpful for me to work on managing my diabetes.

Before I pucked up (ha!), I would take my meds if I thought about them, and felt like I probably needed them. This is bad: we’re not always the best judges of our own health. Thinking Gee, I’m tired. Well I didn’t sleep a lot, have an energy drink to compensate. isn’t as good as checking, and seeing that my blood sugar has been high for hours, days, longer. OF COURSE I’m tired! My body’s fighting to process all the carbohydrate shit I’m giving it and not paying attention to what it NEEDS.

I’m now that much more accountable for my health, and maybe one day, I’ll really get my diet dialed in to keep things in check along with the medicines.

As it stands, I can now take my meds, and get the better idea of what dose I need for insulin instead of just guessing at it. This is producing fewer swings from low to high, which makes me frankly feel much nicer.

That leads me to thinking, “Why is it that CGMs aren’t standard issue for type 2 diabetics at this point?”

Thinking about it, if you have a newly diagnosed diabetic that you’re getting into the flow of what to do, make it easier for them to understand their health. Telling someone that they have to stab a finger FOUR TIMES A DAY for the rest of their life on a new diagnosis can put them in a bad head space. Are they going to do all those finger sticks? Yes, for the first week or so. Then they’ll grow quickly weary of it because the sticks hurt, or because they aren’t seeing changes, or any number of reasons.

Lessen the pain that comes with their new burden, and they’re more likely to be compliant diabetics, compared to non-compliant diabetics. Yes, this means the doctor’s office might not see them quite as often, but it also improves the continuity and quality of care: you might see the person because they got very sick from something else, and it threw them out of sorts. You’re then treating an illness, instead of constantly triaging a badly managed permanent issue.

The sad, but true bit of this? I’m saying that last chunk from personal experience as a diabetic for over a decade.

I knew what diabetes was. I helped my mother and my father with their treatment in the 1990s and 2000s. I knew about the fingersticks. I knew about the insulin injections, the pills that gave you the trots, the exhaustion, the thirst. All of the woes that came with having a problem processing your own insulin, or not producing enough of it, I was familiar with it.

It’s just one of those diagnoses that you wouldn’t wish on another soul. It’s a lifelong illness that doesn’t necessarily make you look sick on the outside, but is shredding you to bits on the inside. So when you hear the ER doctor tell you, “Your blood glucose is 610 mg/dL. Congratulations, you’re diabetic. Please tell me you did not drive yourself here…”

The world drops away, and all you can hear is the rattling of chains as you’re tethered to a permanent diagnosis. We don’t have a 100% end all, be all cure for diabetes available to us.

What we do have, though, is a beneficial technological advance, making it much easier to monitor and treat a lifelong disease, and I am thankful for it.

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Life Update

Diabetes, Cellphones, and a Strange Realization.

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I now have a continuous glucose monitor — the FreeStyle Libre 14 Day system. The piece of hardware that I wear will pull a rolling eight hour number for my blood sugar that I can check at any time and see how I’m doing.

I grazed over the fact that I can check my numbers with my cellphone, and didn’t really think too deeply on it when I first got my meter. I’m on day 12 of wearing the puck, and realized that my mobile device choice is now that much more tightly bound to my glucose meter needs. Why?

Simple: The puck requires Near Field Communications (NFC). If I’m ever somewhere and need to check my blood sugar, but didn’t bring the regular meter with me, as long as my phone has NFC and the LibreLink app installed, I can still check on my body’s condition and make sure I’m okay.

This is moderately important now, but what happens when I am ready to upgrade my phone, or have to replace it because ill befell the device?

I know how to identify devices with near field communications, but not every consumer does. And while I would love to take it as fact that any consumer that’s using this meter in the way I am using it would know what to look for, I know better than to do that.

So, knowing that any device that supports Android Pay or Apple Pay has an NFC radio built in is two thirds of the battle won there. Pairing that with the FreeStyle Libre 14 Day sensor gives the all-around solution.

But there’s a surprising lack of phones on the Android side of the line that offer NFC.

This is why I’d push for NFC to be more ubiquitous across Android devices: We have more things that are coming to market that can make use of the tech. The personal computer, whether we’ve come to realize it or not, required a paradigm shift to be understood. Yes, we have desktop computers, laptop computers, but the personal computer, as we define it? It should have had its definition updated to the little devices we keep calling ‘smartphones’.

It’s typically the ONLY computer we wear on our person, as well as rely on for many different things, such as navigation, payments, communications, security, and even healthcare. We’re building a litany of devices that communicate with these phones, shoving kilobyte after kilobyte of our lives into their 5.5″ grasps, and so many folks are increasingly lost without them after shoving their expanded consciousness into the slab that’s in their pocket.

That ALL of Apple’s pocket-sized personal computers have NFC, and only a thin slice of those in the Android ecosystem have it is disheartening.

This said, I now know that unless I switch away from this glucose testing system, I’m fairly obligated to pick a phone that has NFC, should I ever have to replace my cellphone. Here’s to not having to replace my phone for the next three years, I hope…

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Life Update

Of continuous glucose monitors and increased health insights.

This week was a big week for me. I acquired my first continuous glucose monitor, a FreeStyle Libre 14 Day system. I received a standalone meter along with a puck that gets attached to my arm. The meter also has a standard blood draw glucometer attached to it, so that I can do a regular draw if necessary.

I was a little leery when I first unpacked everything, because there’s all these parts — a glucometer that charges via MicroUSB, a charger and cable for that, and then this big box that contains a sensor that you’ll attach to your arm. The sensor puck kit seems large, but it’s because it’s shipped in two parts. You’ll combine the two parts after verifying numbers on each half, and then this gets pressed against your arm. There IS a needle in the sensor kit, but the needle isn’t left behind — it’s used to break the skin for the sensor filament to go in.

This is my arm with a CGM sensor attached.

No, I didn’t feel much at all when I applied the sensor to the back of my left arm. I jumped mostly because of the sudden ‘pop’ sound from the spring-loaded mechanism that I wasn’t fully expecting. If anything, it’s like someone poking you with a pencil lightly, which is a far cry better than the constant fingersticks I’ve been asked to do.

I’m horrible with the fingersticks, because I just cannot abide by the concept of jabbing my poor fingers with a specially designed knife to draw blood multiple times a day, even though it’s beneficial to my health to ACTUALLY DO THAT, according to my doctor. They need to know what my numbers look like, and if they’re just raging away at 300 mg/dl with no data, they can’t help me.

This meter is game changing in that I can wake up at four in the morning for no reason whatsoever, and without leaving bed, check my blood glucose levels since my meters are at bedside.

Yes, meters plural: The FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensors are NFC compatible, and this means I can read them with the LibreLink app on my Android phone. All I have to do is unlock my phone with a fingerprint, and point the tip of my phone to the side of the sensor. I’ll have a reading in seconds, and don’t have to go find the app and open it first. Or, I can grab the meter actual, press a button on the lower front, and wave it at the puck.

This process removes the internal (and external) whining about having to always stick my damn fingers, and how much this hurts, and how much it sucks, etc etc. Sure, I’ll still have to occasionally stick my fingers, but it’ll be a case of “Hey, Xial. Something’s fishy with this number, can you get me a different number?” instead of “You have to.” It transforms the plain demand into a reasonable insistence, which I’m more likely to comply with.

This just gives me a sense of clarity in data, and a better way to really try to keep an eye on my health.

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Life Update

… and Vacation Goes.

I had a beautiful time out in Ocean Shores in the state of Washington.

I got to spend time with my better half, a person I frankly do not get to spend enough time with because we’re one country and three time zones apart. If I could see them more often, I’d be thrilled.

I just have to find out what’s wrong with my ears to make flying so abysmally unpleasant as to make me refuse to board a plane unless I have absolutely no other choice. It’s so unpleasant that I’ll take a Greyhound or figure out the costs to rent a car before I consider flying.

That aside, the community of Ocean Shores was quite welcoming to the lot of us that visited for a weekend to have our furry convention, Furvana, at their convention center. There were, of course, curious folk that would stop us when we’re walking around to ask questions, and I hear that even the local law enforcement wanted to just take photos with a few folks that were in fursuits, which is pretty cool in and of itself.

If I could change anything about my attendance at the con, it would be my relative introversion in crowds of folks that I just don’t know at all. If someone said hi, I was happy to respond, but it’s a little harder as of late for me to relax and come to the surface, compared to younger me, who’d happily jump into everything, face first.

… oh, and the lack of photos taken, because I worry about folks who don’t want to be caught in my soul catcher.

I didn’t explore Ocean Shores quite as much as I wanted, because an unfortunate event befell the electric bike shop the day before we headed out there. I had initially planned to check out an electric bike to use it to explore the length of Ocean Shores, since I didn’t want to figure out the logistics of hauling MY personal bike up from Oregon via Amtrak and a rental car.
This would be annoying in several ways, as my feet started hurting in a way that made walking long distances irritating, but I refused to drive the rental for fear of having an accident with the local wildlife that had no surplus of hecks to give about cars and people.

You don’t need *munch* a lawnmower, *nibble* dude. But can you pass me the vinaigrette?

I did, however, get to check out the Ocean Pours Tap Room there on my last evening in town. Having been mostly a fan of my local brewery, Ninkasi, and specifically their Yours Truly Easy Drinking Ale, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anything I would like. I was delightfully surprised (and maybe a little drunk afterward) when the four beers I had selected for my flight were all really delicious and smooth. None of that harsh bitterness that I seem to get from the frequently bandied IPA beers — we avoided those for my inaugural flight at the tap room.

I had to walk back home afterward, and realized during the walk that I hadn’t eaten first or during the drinking. Whoops.

The local grocery store, an IGA, was also rather friendly. Hadn’t been in an IGA in years, the last one being back when I was in Florida. Mentally, it was a little disconcerting, because the generic product brand there used to be the generic brand Albertson’s used for the better part of a decade before moving on to a different label.

I hear we did quite well for the charity fundraiser we did for Coastal Raptors. Still waiting for official numbers to be posted, but the preliminary statement was a quite impressive number for a brand new convention.

After I had originally posted this, the official numbers were posted; so it goes.

We had 452 folks in attendance, and raised a delightful $3,142.86 for Coastal Raptors. I’ve got my snow bunting picture I acquired from the charity auction posted in my cubicle at work (not pictured, because HIPAA is a pain in the thang), and a few keychains to sort things to at some point.

My first time seeing the Pacific Ocean in person, with a car party to the left, and someone walking to the right.

For now, I leave you with a photo I took at the beach out at Ocean Shores with my phone. Hopefully in the future if Furvana repeats here, I’ll be back to take more photos, and explore the area in depth. 💙