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!).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Conversation starter

Being a guy has its advantages. I suppose being female would have its advantages too, but I have no perspective on that.

Being a guy means you get to wear pants, all the time, no questions asked. Wearing pants means you get to wear a belt. Wearing a belt means you get to wear all your diabetes life support systems on that belt.

It is highly convenient, but after a while you begin to look and feel like a storm trooper. Now I had solved that problem with cargo pants. At least until recently.

Because recently I got fat.

It seemed like it happened overnight. All the sudden none of my pants fit. I visited my doctor and told her, like, all the sudden I’ve put on a ton of weight. She probed my liver, worried about this, that, and the other thing. Began to write orders for labs and imaging. Then she had a thought.

“Wait a sec,” she told me as she flipped through my old-fashioned paper chart. Her frown eased into a neutral look, then into a smirk as she flipped the pages backwards in time. By the time she reached the oldest progress note, she laughed. “There’s nothing sudden here, you’ve added about two pounds every visit since we first met more than two years ago.”


It’s that damn carb table at work. Who would have thought it would be unhealthy to work at a health center? Every day there is some sort of sweet temptation. My office has also been moved three times over the last three years. I used to be in the Annex, which involved a lot of walking. Then I was in the main building, but not at the heart of the action, which involved a lot less walking. Now I’m in a tiny office (an X-ray machine having evicted me from my previous digs) in the very clinical heart of the center, which involves no walking at all.

So with none of my pants fitting around my waist anymore (having gone from a 34 waist to a 38) I visited Wal-Mart. Now it is winter. Apparently, cargo pants are considered summer wardrobe. So I bought three pair of cheep blue jeans. It was actually refreshing to wear denim that hugged my legs again, rather than the baggy pocket-rich cargos. It also let me wear my favorite kind of shirt again: the rugged globe-trotting adventurer-journalist look with epaulets. I never had the courage to wear epaulet shirts with cargo pants. You can get away with one or the other, but wearing both at the same time is a little too over the top. Even for a “frontier” medicine site.

But moving from cargos to blue jeans is like moving from a roomy county house to a high-rise city condo. There is a lot less storage space.

So here is what I was carrying in and on my pants: insulin pump, CGM monitor, blood glucose meter, strips, lancing device, PDA, wallet, and a box cutter (in lieu of a pocket knife). I also sometimes clip my ID badge to my belt, as when I wear it on a lanyard it gets tangled up in my stethoscope and nearly chokes me.

Moving all the stuff that had been in my pockets to my belt made me feel even fatter, and as noted above, having to go up two pants sizes was already dealing my self-image quite a blow.

I needed a solution. The pump stayed on my waist. The badge went to my shirt pocket. The stethoscope went to my desk top (I don’t really need to carry it everywhere with me, but I just like to because it makes me look smarter than I really am). The PDA went into my “go bag” with my diabetic emergency supplies, arguably a much safer place for it as I have washed no less than three PDAs while doing laundry after having forgotten to take them out of my pockets at the end of the day. They’ve pretty much stopped making PDAs, even the Palm Store doesn’t sell them anymore, so I can’t afford to lose this one.

The knife stayed where it was, the wallet too. But I still had the meter case and CGM to deal with. WaveSense makes a great meter and an awesome strip, but the same intelligence has not be applied to their cases. They are a wee bit too small, the clear plastic makes the screen hard to read, the zipper gives me trouble, and there is no way to fasten the damn thing to your body.

The first day I transplanted the WaveSense gear into a FreeStyle Flash case. It all fit, but you have to take the whole kit off of your belt to test. And it is held on by a half-inch square piece of Velcro. Twice in the first day I found it on the floor of my office.

Drawing on my previous life in photography I went online to my favorite supplier and checked out “camera pouches.” These are small belt cases of various sizes. I laid my Jazz meter (which I’m test-driving), my OneTouch lancing device, and a bottle of test strips out on my desk and with a tape measure played with different configurations. Sort of a perverted diabetes Rubik’s Cube. With a couple of mouse clicks, a solution for that problem was on its way.

Meanwhile, I had ended up giving both my spare Verizon LG Chocolate cases away to other Dexcom users. The Dex case is even more pathetic than the WaveSense. I suspect if you lost your meter they’d give you a new one. If you lose your CGM monitor you are just shit out of luck. I went to the Verizon site to get some more, I at once regretted posting about the case, as they are now out of stock. While there, however, I spotted a different kind of case altogether. It straps to your arm… hmmmm….

It turned out to be a little too rich for my blood, but I found something similar on eBay. Now I’ve worn quite a lot of diabetes gear on my body for quite a few years and even other diabetics rarely seem to notice. I guess we are all so used to seeing cell phones on people’s belts that we just tune out boxes on belts.

But when you wear your CGM on your bicep you get noticed. So not only did it lead to all kinds of interesting conversations, both at work and at the gas station, but it was better from a user point of view too. I could hear the alarms better, because they were closer to my ears. I could check my sugar level more easily on my arm. Looking at it on my belt was not the easiest of operations, both because my eyes are getting old and my stomach is now apparently in the way. It was also nice when driving. Instead of looking at my lap and swerving off the road, I could just press a button with one hand still on the wheel, and steal a look at the screen.

So being a guy does have its advantages. But girls have arms too.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Just to keep it legal...

Copyright 2010