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, September 05, 2007


Black. Smooth. Small. I’ve seen something like this before. On-line, I think. Oh yeah, it was one of the things in the pictures of the alleged Roswell UFO wreckage.

Three-quarters of an inch thick. Inch and a half long. Looks more Lego than Techno. It is the ComLink, the Guardian’s voice when talking to the server farm back at MedT.

Today I decided to try it out. When I was using ParaPump, I used the BD meter to upload the pump data to the CareLink software. Guardian can do that too, but here is something new, so naturally I wanted to try it out.

It came in a red zip lock bag and was packed with one of those cute little mini discs that remind me of dollar pancakes. I assumed the disc had some sort of driver for the device. I slid the disc into the DVD/CD drawer of my aging desktop and waited for the spool-up noises. A window opened showing a….. PDF file? No driver software? Just an instruction manual?

I opened the PDF and my computer was instantly high-jacked by Adobe Systems, Inc.
No, I don’t want to check for updates, damnit! After closing 28 and one-half “are you sure you want to close this window” windows I finally got to my “manual.” In true MedT fashion, they used up eight pages to say “plug the sucker into your computer.”

The cable uses one of the old-school 9-pin mini serial ports that seem to have been eclipsed by the USB port. Lucky for me my computer is a dinosaur.

So I plugged the ComLink into one end of the cable and tightened the little screws. Then I plugged the other end into the computer and tightened the little screws on that end. Then nothing happened.

After 20 minutes I decided to go to CareLink and see what happened. I logged in with my username and password and chose ‘Upload Data from My Device.’

Three hours later the Java Plug in had loaded and I was good to go. I could choose a ParaPump, a Guardian, or a BG meter. I selected Guardian and was instructed to make sure the battery was good and that I didn’t have any alarms going off. See? Even the CareLink Software knows that no one can hear the damn alarms!

You next have to enter the serial number, either from the back of the unit or from one of the status screens. I went for the back. No cool numerology to be found this time. Next you choose the BD meter or the ComLink. Hmmmmm…. I wonder if they came up with this device when it looked like BD was going to go belly-up and take the meters and test strips that talk to Paradigm pumps with them? Next you must auto-detect or tell the system which port you are using. As I have no fricken idea, I opt for auto and hope for the best.

You are then advised to verify that the cables are connected and you are to get as far away from you PC as the cord will allow you. I’m told to click finish to begin reading my monitor.

I hesitate. Am I supposed to attach the ComLink to my girl? No way to do that. Presumably it is a wireless device like ParaPump. I don’t know how close the two devices need to be.

In the end I hold them together in my hand, press the enter key, and push off with my foot. My rolling chair rolls out into the middle of my library. The computer screen tells me that CareLink is setting up my ComLink. Cross your fingers, boys and girls.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Now I’m being told that CareLink is reading my data. Wow. That simple. Huh. That’s all there is to it. Plug it in. Go online. Follow the prompts. How easy is that?

It takes what seems like forever (like three whole minutes) to download my Guardian. When it’s done I select the daily overlay report to make sure the data is there.

CareLink opens a new window and churns the data for a few minutes then spits out a graph that looks like the monthly causality reports in Baghdad.

Holy, crap! That can’t be right! A twisting mess of colored lines, liked tangled wires in gutted airplanes at the junk yard. Only one trend to be seen: They are almost all high. All the time. Oh yeah. I guess that is right after all.


Blogger Kevin L. McMahon said...

so simple even my grandma can use it ;(

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In answer to whether they came up with ComLink when BD went belly-up, it's a no.

ComLink is, and always has been, the only way to get data from Medtronic pumps in Europe. The BD Meter has never had a CE mark, and so never been available to us here in the UK.

The serial connection on the ComLink has been a cause of immense irritation to me. I can't help but feel Medtronic don't regard their European users very highly. It doesn't seem to matter to them if getting data from our devices requires us keeping a dedicated old computer - and it has to be one running Windows - around for that purpose alone.

Sorry, moan over.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice description of the use of a simple cable. :D
Looks like they still didn't notice how old COM is. USB seems only available via an adapter.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that does sound simply but it is impossible on a USB serial adapter and vista.

6:19 AM  

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