LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Many boxes

Stay calm. Schunnnnnnnnnnnnnk! Razor knife slits open the brown shipping tape on the unassuming box. I gently peal back the flaps and inside is…..peanuts. Foam packing peanuts.

Stay calm.

Under the packing peanuts are boxes. Many boxes. Like Rio empting out his Easter basket last weekend I take each one out, one after another, barley glancing at them until all that remains is the peanuts.

Stay calm.

What do we have? First a book in an envelope. “A practical guide to continuous glucose monitoring.” Momentary flash of anger. How come they didn’t ask me to write that?

Stay calm.

The largest box. Blue and white with “Paradigm Real-Time” in large letters. A large photo of a smiling twenty-something girl in a denim shirt. Oddly someone has added a slice of clip-art pizza to her hands. Very strange. Also an image of the pump. We know what’s in this box.

The MiniMed Paradigm Real-Time Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Monitoring System is too big a mouthful, and even worse on the fingers. Even Paradigm Real-Time is too much for me. Besides which, I can’t even spell P-a-r-a-d-i-g-m. Hence forth on these pages I’m going to call it the ParaPump. So it is written, so it is done (apologizes to Yul Brynner’s ghost).

Also a box for the “Link,” what the rest of us would call a BG Meter. A box for the remote control. A box for the transmitter. A box for the Quick Serter, and of course boxes for the reservoirs and infusion sets. Oh, yeah. A DVD too.

Stay calm. Which to open first? No contest. The ParaPump. Off with the shrink-wrap! The top of the box slides slowly up, with just enough friction to create a delightful tickle of anticipation down my spine. Inside are….manuals. Lots, and lots, and lots of manuals. OK. I know how my lunch hour is going to be spent tomorrow.

Under the inch plus of spiral-bound manuals, nestled in clear plastic, like a precious gem in a velvet box is the ParaPump. Frosted plastic. Just a hint of high-tech innards show though the skin. Dark navy-blue keyboard. Four grey and white keys and a royal blue “ACT” key. One button to guide them, one button to bind them…(apologies to Tolkien fans).

The ParaPump is beautiful in the way a war-plane, a camera, or a gun can be. This is no I-Pod. It is built for function not form, and yet…to me at least, I love the form. It is no-nonsense, but not clunky like the garage-door opener Guardian I wore for so long. It has a certain sleek, modern, utilitarian, but futuristic look to it. Clearly a machine built to DO something. It doesn’t snub form, but is no slave to it. It’ll look just fine on my belt. My old CoZmo was designed to look like a cell phone, but only pumpers see insulin pumps anyway. Most people just don’t pay that much attention to other people.

Long time readers may recall that I’ve spent a great deal of my life working with various machines. Some are just machines. Some seem to have personality. Some seem female, some male, some have no gender. We called my Guardian “The Girl.” What is the ParaPump? Sorry, gang. I think it is just a machine, although it did elicit a “Coooooool” from my wife. Who also, with a quick feminine eye for weight said, “so much thinner than your old one.”

In a side pocket I find some more goodies. A hard-plastic holster-style belt clip. Oh JOY! This is the kind of clip Deltec cheated me out of years ago…also a second clip, a few mysterious accessories, and even brand-new, good until 2013 AAA Bunny batteries. I like it when you get the batteries with your toys.

I can’t resist. I pull the protective clear shipping guard out of the way and pull the pump out of the box. I rest it in the palm of my hand. Small, thin. Heavier than you’d expect. I run my left index finger lightly over its surface. Hello beautiful. Welcome.

Not at all the Calvary Soldier. Too small for a knight in shinning armor. Well, ParaPump, we’ll figure out what kind of animal you are later.

Next box: the transmitter. Now many of you might not of heard, but here is where there has been a true paradigm shift. Did you hear the two loud thumps last week? Like the dull thuds of sonic booms? Yeah, that was the folks a DexCom and Abbott falling to the floor in dead faints. There is a new CGM transmitter in town. It is not evolutionary, it is revolutionary.

I knew about it, ‘cause Medtronic had sent me (and every other customer, no doubt) a gaudy flyer about it. Typical bright, badly matched Medtronic colors (like lime-green and royal blue, grosssssssssssssss). FYI: there was also a flyer on the new and improved Guardian, and it looks to have most of the things on my wish list for the old one.

Anyway, back to the transmitter. Reading about it, seeing photos of it….no substitute for holding it in the palm of your hand. I kid you not. It is exactly one half the size of a pregnant poker chip. Yeah. You can not believe how fricken small this thing is. It weighs nothing. The damn thing must be filled with helium. This will take up no landscape on the sexiest of stomachs (not mine) or on the smallest, skinniest T-1 child. BTW: FDA approved these things for kids, a real blessing to parents of young T-1s.

Now as to the poker chip being knocked up, the new transmitter is thicker than a poker chip, but less than half the thickness of the old transmitter. What to compare it to? Three sticks of gum? Four dimes? But that would just be at its apex. It is smooth and sleek. Aerodynamic. The whole thing looks like a wave-worn seashell lying on the beach.

Now check this out: no wires. Yeah. You heard me. No wires. It clips directly onto the sensor. But I saved the best till last.

Sitting down? Stay calm.

It is rechargeable.

It comes with a ugly blue dock that holds a AAA battery. Ya plug the thing in and charge it up. According to the book eight hours buys you 14 days. Reminds me of those cell phone quick-chargers that save your bacon when you run out of juice. Once we get into real-world use I’ll report in on how to integrate the missing hours of coverage, but speaking as a guy who watched a non-rechargeable thousand dollar transmitter kick the bucket I gotta say this sounds like a huge improvement.

The seashell is cream colored. Why not flesh tone? Why not metallic? Does a cool color of plastic really cost more than a boring one? Oh well. Minor quibble. Can’t wait to wear this puppy!

One unexpected and cool thing happened when I slipped the transmitter out of the charger. Deep inside the shell a glowing green light started flashing. I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive. Morse code from beyond. I think the folks a Medtronic broke into Area 51 and stole some of that Roswell UFO technology this time.

Next the Meter. I’m really looking forwards to trying this thing out. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about it, but I know a few T-1s who swear on their lives it is the best thing ever. The meter is not as big or ugly in person as it is in its mug shots. It is also clear to match my ParaPump (well, OK, the pump belongs to Medtronic, but I can’t help but think of it as mine…). You can see the circuit boards through the back, without wearing your x-ray glasses you bought out of the back of a comic book. Meter case is not the worst I’ve ever seen or the best. A bit on the large side. Don’t know if I’ll want to wear that on my belt or not. I’ve been spoiled. With the meter attached to my pump I just carry a small lance and a vial of test strips in a small belt pouch. Of course if the ParaPumps’ CGM works as well as I was finally able to get the Girl to work I’m only going to need to finger stick about three times per day. Hmmmmmmm….well, one problem at a time.

You got to remember what I do for a living more than half the time, I’ve got practically every meter known to man in my office—so I have a lot to compare to. The lancing device looks like trouble. I’ll stick with the one I stole from a OneTouch Ultra Mini. Best lancer made. Short, cute, one-handed operation. Variable depth. Takes round or square lances.

What? No test strips? Damn. Even those cheap bastards at Bayer give a few test strips with their meters. A lousy five to be exact. Humph!

Well off to the pharmacy first thing I can…what else do we have? Hey! Why are there two bottles of control solution. Wait a sec…. Wait a sec… Ohmigod! Look at that! That isn’t a bottle of control solution, it is the smallest bottle of test strips I’ve ever seen! How cute! It’s like those little mini bottles of Tabasco Sauce the Army guys get in their MREs. And, what? 25 strips in this little bottle? Wow. OK, better take back all the bad things I was thinking and saying and typing. Ooooooooooo, the strips are gold on one side. So that explains the cost of test strips. They are made of gold, after all. HeeHeeeHee…

According to the box this is not your ordinary blood glucose monitor. It talks to the ParaPump and your computer too. Cool. Fun. Fun and cool. Cool and fun. If it works.

By the way, someone bought out the de-funct BD test strip biz, so the strips will continue to be available for Medtronic pumpers.

Next box, the remote control. Again, battery included. A truncated AAA. Never seen a battery that looks like this before. Energizer A23. Looks like a midget AAA. Remote is a smaller, thinner version of the thingy you use to lock your car. Beep-Beep! Not entirely sure under what circumstances I’d use this. I can see where it would be a necessity for a woman who wears her pump in her bra…and of course I don’t wear a bra and wouldn’t put my pump there if I did. Too flat chested. All of that said, I like having the whole system to play with. It may prove highly useful!

Another horrid clear-ish blue plastic device is the Quick-Serter, which I almost broke before Serting anything with it. Serves me right for playing with stuff before reading the directions! So the way is actually works is: you pull up on the top. Click! Then DON’T push back down on the top again. Instead, gently squeeze the little grey buttons on the side and SHUNK! the device flies down like a snapping turtle. Cool. I’ve been a macho insert-it-your-self-by-hand infusion set kind of guy. Now I can see how the other half lives.

I haven’t looked at the reservoirs and the sets yet, but it is late. Gotta get up early for the commute to the clinic, so I’ll report more later.

Good night all. Oh, yeah, and stay calm; I’ll be back tomorrow.

11 Comments:

Blogger Megan said...

Awesome! How exciting! You are making me super excited too, just reading this!

12:50 AM  
Blogger jill. said...

Great post! I'm excited to read more as you get to try things out!

5:00 AM  
Blogger M said...

Just found your blog - hooked already. Congrats on your new 'toy'! I'm so jealous!

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Jana said...

Just to warn you in advance, you may still have trouble finding those goddamn BD test strips. I live in f---ing New York City and my pharmacy has to order them (takes just a day, but still) every time I do refills.

Oh, and I'm jealous of the remote control. That doesn't usually come with the pump (Medtronic is treating you *nice*...). It usually costs 150 big ones. So if you ever feel the need to donate yours to a woman who isn't too flat-chested to wear her pump in her bra...

8:13 AM  
Blogger Bernard said...

What a great description. I can't wait to read more about how this works for you.

My bet - you'll love it. Using a CGM is like someone has given you a new superpower. The ability to see what's inside your blood. It's awesome.

8:18 AM  
Blogger MileMasterSarah said...

how exciting! This was so much fun to read!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

I'm thrilled to bits that you have the Minimed pump and their CGM, but DO NOT under ANY circumstances use that GOD AWFUL excuse for a glucose meter. I have had the most inaccurate readings with that thing. You're better off snagging an Ultra from work or simply calling Lifescan. At least, that's my two cents. Of course, with inflation, I think I deserve at least four cents.

12:00 PM  
Blogger type1emt said...

The remote is one of the things I miss,had one with my old MM 508.
Sounds like one rocking piece of technology(or however many pieces), have fun.

3:04 PM  
Blogger julia said...

I just told O about the BD strips still being available. You've made her night.

We've never had issues with the BD meter, but I know plenty of people have.

This was great to read. I like your description of the transmitter. It sounds quite small - much smaller than the Navigator tx.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Kerri. said...

Oh Wil, I'm glad you're back. Seriously.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Great write up Wil.

When I was on the 508c Minimed pump I used the remote for one weekend of each and every year.

I would go hunting with my dads side of the family, and wear chest waders. My pump? On my belt, like usual. My remote? On a lanyard around my neck.

Easy Peasy.

9:20 PM  

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