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!).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Transmitter troubles

I can see myself in the very corner of my computer screen, and I look like an air traffic controller. I’m in my comfy desk chair at the clinic, a large professional-looking headset covers my ears. A boom microphone sweeps down from the left ear, parking a foam-covered disc in front of my mouth.

United two-niner-four, turn east 120 degrees, maintain two-thousand-feet, watch for traffic….

But of course this has nothing to do with airplanes, damn it. We are actually talking about heroin.

On my computer screen, like the old Hollywood Squares game, I see my colleagues from around the state. A diabetes educator from the far southeast has a worry. She was helping a new dx learn to take insulin shots when the patient’s helpful girl-friend piped up with the advice of “it’s just like shooting up, only you use your stomach rather than a vein.”

Initially dx’d as a T-1; that diagnosis is in doubt. You see, when a T-2 gets really, really, really high (say 800 or 900 BGL) they suffer glucose toxicity. The beta cells in the pancreas, in the words of my Endo-friend Dr. Colleran “freak-out,” and shut down. Temporarily. Once the sugar is down they fire up again.

This guy is from a heavy T-2 family, and he is quite obese. His diabetes educator, pretty convinced he is a T-2, and worried about the “shooting up” reference, is asking for thoughts from all of us. Should she move him to orals? She’s worried he’ll shoot heroin with his insulin syringes.

I listen to this nonsense for as long as I can stand it and un-mute my mike. And, why, exactly, would we want him not to have clean needles? I ask. There is a collective embarrassed silence. Instead of cutting him off from needles if you think he’s shooting up, I think you should give him twice as many as he needs.

Then my belt vibrates. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. It is Navigator phoning home with some sort of system alarm.

! Tx Battery Exhausted

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, I mutter to myself, making sure I have re-muted my mike. It is day two of the sensor. When I put it in, I checked the battery level first.

Main>System>Status>Transmitter status> TX Battery 75-100%.

Now I’m dead in the water. Becalmed. Rudderless. Navigator refuses to navigate.

Like a toddler, my Navigator has gone from full speed to fast asleep in the middle of the living room floor, butt in the air. That, in a Navigator monotherapy environment would leave my butt in the air too.

Of course, I have not bothered to put a spare 357 button battery in my Go-Bag. Not that it would do me any good. The sensor is now “officially” dead and needs to be replaced. Of course I also do not have a spare sensor with me either. Are you kidding? Do you know how big those suckers are? No? Well, I’ll tell you. Five-and one-half inches long, five inches wide and nearly three inches thick. They are big.

Not something I’d want to lug around all day everyday just-for-incase.

And what good would it do me? If I put on a new sensor I’m still faced with a ten hour wait. I’ve never, ever, ever had the rechargeable Guardian battery crap out on me and it only sits in its charger about 15 minutes every six days.

So I’m pretty disgusted right now.

To add insult to injury, the damn thing continues to alarm every fifteen minutes for the rest of the work day to remind me that the fucking transmitter battery is dead.

Hey, I’m not working. Yeah, I know.

Hey, I’m not working. Yeah, I know.

Hey, I’m not working. Yeah, I know.

Hey, I’m not working. Yeah, I know.

Hey, I’m not working. Yeah, I know.

Hey, I’m not working. Yeah, I know.


Daddy needs a drink.

As this sensor wasn’t on the job for very long, Deb and I decide to try and fire it up again. OK. So the transmitter is supposed to lock into the plastic concrete form that is glued onto your arm. The be-careful-you-don’t-break-it arm slips through a little hole in the frame through a hole on the computer-chip like sensor, to help hold the whole array in proper alignment. At the back/bottom side of the transmitter is a little nub that sits in a hole on the frame. If you can hold the frame down against your skin while lifting the base of the transmitter you can slide it back off the frame, boot it back up again telling the system that it is a new sensor and you can keep running it for another five days.

It is nearly impossible to do this yourself if it is on your arm. You need a spouse.

I screwed around with in for almost 20 minutes with no luck. Deb got it off in 20 seconds.

I pull out the offending battery and toss it in the trash, and put a new one into the grey plastic club cracker. I slide the transmitter up the rails of the concrete form and snugly push it into place. It is a soft connection. No reassuring snap or click to tell you everything is good with the world.

Navigator vibrates in my hands, telling me a new sensor has been detected. I feed her the lot number and…

…and I get the hour glass. The ten-hours begins.

Ha! Tricked the system. Take that Abbott. Take that FDA!

Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. Helicopters? At this time of night?

Ut-oh. FDA SWAT team on the roof….

Next time: low-down-dirty-dogs


Blogger Tim said...

He he he! Great, entertaining post.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Mary C. said...

Wil, if you didn't hear the faint click when you slid the transmitter back on the sled, then the little nub didn't lock it on. Several users have had the transmitter fall off after wearing it for a while and you'll have to start it up all over again. Now may be the time for that big momma IV3000 bandage you opted not to use last time.

5:50 PM  
Blogger CALpumper said...

Definitely entertaining.
Informative too.

So any conclusions on the T2 patient? Besides your colleagues still hushed over your response?

9:41 PM  

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