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!).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I read you LOUD and clear

This is just fucking perverted. It’s well after midnight, and we’re all gathered around mySentry: waiting, hoping. God help me, we’re waiting and hoping for a low.

My blood sugar is coasting right above my nocturnal low threshold, set at 80 mg/dL. Actually, even more perverted than this scene, a scant 30 minutes ago we got a predicted low alarm which I treated sub-therapeutically. In other words, out of morbid curiosity to hear the low alarm, I took less glucose that I should have for the threatened low. I slowed the decent, but didn’t stop it.

Piling sacrilege on sacrilege, I was not only letting myself have a low, I didn’t even use glucose to slow the decent. I used corn syrup. Yep. Candy instead of medicine. I’m such a rebel tonight.

Now, for background, and this is only true of Med-T CGMs—so you Dexcom users aren’t allowed to feel bad about this—if you use a Med-T CGM right, you’ll never hear the low alarm. Ever. That’s because their predicted alarms actually fucking work. I mean, it’s not rocket science: you have a target blood sugar, you have the speed of the drop, the math involved in predicting in advance when you’ll cross the low threshold isn’t that hard. But the effect is magical!

Actually, I like to joke that predictive alarms never, ever work because they work. Yeah, I grant you, it’s a Catch-22 type situation. When you get a warning that you are going to be low, you have time to prevent it, so you never end up actually going low in the first place (or is it the second place?). At any rate, the CGM accurately predicted an event that will never come to pass. So it really wasn’t accurate, was it? Or is it? It’s like one of those head-exploding sci-fi paradoxes when you go back in time, and your time machine lands on your grandfather’s head, killing him… so you couldn’t have been born… but if you weren’t born you couldn’t have traveled back in time and squashed his head… but if you didn’t travel back in time and squashed his head you would be born after all so… Yeah. One of those kinda things.

But I digress. In the interest of science and journalism, tonight, we’re letting this low happen.

Back to the story.

It all started at nine minutes after midnight, at the end of a hell day, just as I was closing my eyes for some much needed sleep, Sentry cleared his throat for the first time and said:

DaDoo. DooMa. DohRa.
DaDoo. DooMa. DohRa.
DaDoo. DooMa. DohRa.

Or words to that effect.

Loud enough to scare the shit out of me, thank God. Great start! The screen lit up with “Low predicted. Sensor Glucose approaching low limit. Check BG now.” It’s always nice to have a check list to remind you to put on your parachute as your plane goes down in flames over enemy lines.

While loud, the tones aren’t scary like Chernobyl meltdown alarms, not ear-piercing like fire alarms, not annoying like car alarms. They are, in fact, very musical.

But now words fail me. After all, there’s no way to write what a Bach violin concerto sounds like. The constants and vowels of the English language are ill equipped to relate to the mind the tones and sounds of music to the ear. And that’s what Sentry’s alarms are. They’re musical. They’re loud and pure tones from a xylophone. Throaty, but each note clear and strong, ringing with a bell-like resonance. Each syllable a full octave below the one before the last—bells descending

And then, 45 minutes after midnight what we were all waiting for happened—after one downslope alarm and three predicted lows—


Hmmm…. But reading what I just wrote makes the alarms sound oriental in flavor. It’s an odd music, but not oriental. Maybe it was Bong-rong-tong? Maybe it was more of a dong than an a bong. Or is it a thong?


I give up. Go rent a xylophone if you want to hear what the mySentry alarms sound like.

But the good news is that the low tone is different from the predicted low, which is different from the fall rate, or downslope alarm. It’s still a descending tone, but it’s faster paced. More frantic. It’s still friendly. Only more throaty. More urgent.

mySentry’s alarms are not as fun as old garage door opener Guardian’s were, with her air-raid sirens and alien invasion sound effects, but still… They are loud enough and each speaks its own language.

I downed a Dex4 fluid, turned my light out, laid my head on my pillow, pulled up the covers and snuggled in for the night. Outside, I heard Coyotes yipping in the distance, a nocturnal serenade.

I wonder if Coyotes can sense low blood sugar like they say some dogs can? Hmmm… and what about Wolves, and tigers and lions and bears… Nah.

I think I’ll stick with technology for now.

Next time: and you’re doing this because?


Blogger Sara said...

Okay, that part about the time machine hurt my brain.

Maybe a video of the alarm noises?

10:03 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Your posts always make me smile. Thank you for that.

And like Sara, my brain hurts from that time machine caveat.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Jonah said...

I keep thinking that it would be pretty easy to train some animal to wake me up when my Dexcom alarm goes off, since I sleep through that every single time.

Anyways. I wish you had posted a video or audio file of the alarm- guess you didn't have enough warning though.

10:42 PM  

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