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, May 08, 2007

The Hieroglyphics of Pumping

I think MedT’s use of Egyptian Hieroglyphics must be a salute to our heritage. After all, as D-Author and Educator Gary Scheiner reminds us in his book Think Like a Pancreas, the first recorded case of diabetes dates to a 1552 BC papyrus by the Egyptian physician Hersy-Ra. That’s Hersy, not Hershey.

And just where does MedT use hieroglyphics, you ask?

Glad you asked. In almost all of its important functions and status communiqués the ParaPump does not speak English, Spanish, French, or German. It uses ancient Egyptian.

When ParaPump is just minding it’s own business and doing its job, most of the screen that dominates its face is blank. The only signs of life are along a thin ribbon on the top of the screen. On the left is the missile with chevrons, then (sometimes) the full moon or the bull’s-eye, then, in the middle, up to four numbers. The numbers are modern, thank goodness, not Roman numerals. Next comes the toilet plunger (or in some cases the cookie cutter), and last the tank with boxes.

Confused? Luckily for all of you I attended the American University in Cairo in a previous life and I can still remember a great deal of the Hieroglyphics I learned.

Starting at the right, ‘cause sometimes hieroglyphics read right to left, we’ll start with the tank with boxes. This is the battery status icon. The number of boxes tells you about how much battery is left. In theory. The icon seems highly subjective and none to precise. Almost immediately after putting a fresh battery in it, I dropped from four to three boxes. That said I walked around for weeks with only one box left in the tank. The CoZmo battery icon had more precise graphic depiction of battery life. Some of my other battery powered gear can actually predict how much time remains on the battery.

That said, I’m tickled to have a battery icon of any kind. The original Guardian did not have one at all. It gave you an alarm moments before the battery died, almost always at two in the morning.

The toilet plunger and the cookie cutter are icons to indicate if and how well the seashell transmitter and the ParaPump are talking to each other. The toilet plunger shows a strong telemetry. The seashell is transmitting and the ParaPump is receiving. All is well with the world when the toilet plunger is on your screen. The cookie cutter warns you of trouble in paradise. Your sensor system is on, but there is no communication. Any number of things can cause this, most of them end badly. Every once in a while you’ll lose an info packet and get the cookie cutter for a short time, then it recovers. Most times, when you see the cookie cutter you know your life line is about to be cut off. So don’t eat cookies when you see the cookie cutter.

The numbers in the middle are the time. You can set 24 hour (sometimes called military time) or AM/PM time. I’ve got mine on 24 hour. Don’t know why, I have just always preferred it.

Next are the moon and the bull’s-eye. Just remember that when there is a bad moon rising you need to be careful; and when you are in the bull’s-eye you are in a world of shit. The moon icon indicates that an alarm condition exists. I’ve got a full moon rising on my screen right now. So what does that mean? Well it can mean a whole lot of things. In this case, it is because I’m a few hours from site change and my reservoir is low. Deb just pulled chocolate-chip banana bread (made with Splenda) out of the oven. Smells sooooooooooo good. I’ll need to get a new reservoir full of NovoLog into ParaPump before that bread cools off! The bull’s-eye means something so serious has happened that the pump is not working. I would have chosen an icon of a person screaming, myself. Oh, yeah, the bull’s-eye also shows up when you have suspended the pump.

Last, on the far left, is the missile with chevrons. This shows you more or less how much insulin is in the reservoir. Not too precise, because like the battery icon, it only has four “bars.” So more or less full, 75% full, half full, or only 25% or less left. Here is where I miss the CoZmo. It too had a little icon, but right below the hieroglyph it told you exactly how many units were left in the pump. I can menu surf and get that info from the ParaPump, but it takes work and I’m a busy guy. All diabetics are busy. We need simple.

So all of these Icons are things you can (and must) learn. I suppose they are no better or worse than any other pump. My biggest gripe is that we have this huge screen with nothing on it most of the time. We’ve got a huge blank screen on the most sophisticated, info packed pump of all time. Drives me fucking crazy. My fist choice would be for it to display the latest Sensor Glucose and a graph. Or the status of the power, reservoir, basal, last bolus, active insulin in your body….or all of the above. What the hell, we’ve got a pretty big screen. We’re using meaningless hieroglyphics; why not design an aircraft-style cockpit display? Something that, with practice, you can glace at and know everything you need to know about your pump and your blood sugar.

Maybe some people would never learn to use it, but it beats the hell out of a blank screen that benefits no one. Maybe it would eat up the batteries a little sooner. AAAs are cheap. I would rather change the battery every two weeks than every month if it gave me info at a glace. Info with out menu surfing.

Anyway, a toast to Hersy-Ra for trying. And a toast for MedT for succeeding, because even with all the things we hate, we’d hate even more to be living in pre-pump times, or worse yet in 1552 BC.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this website was supposed to be about diabetes

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez Dude, what do you think he is pumping?

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't like the full moon icon - it means too many thing (not all of them alarm conditions).

I've had instances where it has meant low battery, low reservoir, temporary basal, Pattern A, and Square Wave in effect (all at the same time).

As I said, not all of these are alarm conditions, and I sometimes wish that MM would develop a few more icons (especially for the patterns, temporary basal, and square wave).

8:41 PM  
Blogger Wil said...

Good point, Aaron, I neglected to point out that temp rates and the like show the full moon too. That can be confusing, a temporary rate isn't really in the same class as an alarm.

9:02 PM  

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