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, March 22, 2012

Good morning sunshine

I yawn. Stretch. Rub my eyes and reach for my glasses. I glance at the Sentry on my nightstand.

Pump battery: full.
Sixty-nine units of Novolog in the pump.
Signal strength between pump and Outpost: so-so but not horrible.
Next CGM calibration due in three hours.
One day remains on the sensor.
My BGL is 125 with a slow and steady drop over the last two hours.
Over the last six hours I’ve been in target.

I’m not kidding about the glance, I got all that info in a glace, displayed in real-time, at the same time, on Sentry.

All the information is displayed via a graphical interface. Like an old-fashioned analog watch, a glance will tell you what you need to know without having to really engage your brain. To do this, Med-T used logos that change color. For instance, my battery icon is green, but my little insulin vial is now yellow. My insulin is getting a little low, but it’s not an emergency. When it gets too low, it’ll turn red. The same color scheme of green-yellow-red is used for the battery strength, insulin level, signal strength, sensor calibration, and sensor age. The blood sugar information is displayed in a “trace line.” Learning to read the blood sugar trace lines, and understanding the story they are telling, is something I have a lot of experience with; and it’s something that I’m going to teach you if it kills both of us. But we have lots of time to worry about that later. Like, say, tomorrow.

One thing I like about mySentry, is that it stays the fuck put. Whatever screen I leave the thing on, it stays there. This is no small deal to me. Take the Dexcom Seven Plus for instance. Not only will it not stay put, it won’t even stay on. The philandering bastard turns itself off after a few seconds and always defaults to the three hour screen when I wake it up again.

Sentry remembers my preferences. It’ll stay on any screen I choose, and it has a number to choose from. I can operate from my three hour, six hour, 12 hour, or 24 hour glucose trace screens (all quite usable, given the large size of the Sentry’s screen—we’ll talk about which one makes the most sense on another day). Or if I was an idiot, I could just look at my current glucose reading in HUGE type font as if Sentry were an over-grown blood glucose meter rather than a CGM. Or I can blackout the glucose info altogether and just have the pump status displayed. This is called a privacy setting. Nice thought, I guess, no one likes to be in their underwear when company shows up, and letting everyone and their uncle see your blood sugar is pretty much being naked, isn’t it?

Now I promised you we’d cover the operation of the monitor in more detail, so here we go.

On the top is a bell with a spear though it’s heart. That’s universal button language for “mute” or “silence” or “shut the fuck up” (depending on the hour of the day). In small print in plain English above the logo it says “Silence Alarm.”

This button is used to silence an alarm on the monitor. Duh. Note that this doesn’t cancel the alarm, that can only be done from the pump itself. The bell-button can also be used to silence the whole unit when you are going to be away from the system for a while, so it won’t drive your type 3s batty when you go to work.

On either side of the screen are three buttons. On top left side is the Eye or Rah (or maybe it’s the Masonic Eye, I’m not sure). Below that is either the mathematical symbol for “less than” or a left turn arrow, depending on your education and background. On the bottom left is a snowflake. Top right is an “up” arrow, in the middle is a funky Pac-Man-like logo, and on the bottom is a “down” arrow.

The Eye of Rah is called the “View” button by Med-T. It’s used to get the main menu and to scroll through the various glucose screens we talked about a few minutes ago. The main menu has two sub-menus, one is the Utilities Menu where you go for initial setup—linking the pump and Outpost to the monitor—as well as for adjusting nightlight brightness, screen brightness, and alarm volume. There’s also a network status screen on the main menu were you can check out the telemetry strength of the signals coming in from the Outpost and from the Pump itself. According to the manual, there should also be an alarm history menu, but this function appears not to be working on my unit. The alarm history has never appeared for me, regardless of how many alarms I get.

The left turn arrow is called the “Back” button by Med-T. Its main function is to let you scroll back along a glucose trace to check the exact sensor glucose reading at a point in the past.

The snowflake turns on the nightlight on the back of the unit, something I haven’t used yet, as even dimmed to the minimum, the screen is still quite bright.

On the right, the Up and Down buttons work like you’d expect, letting you scroll between the three, six, 12, and 24 hour sensor trace screens, and letting you navigate up and down the Utilities Menu. The Pac-Man in the middle right is called the “Next” button by Med-T. It’s used mainly for selecting menu items.

Depending where you are amongst the various screens, not all the buttons function, so they are lit when you can use them, and they “dim out” when they’re not available.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it, I find myself poking Rah in the eye and telling the Sentry to shut-the-fuck-up more than I use the other buttons; but it’s not rocket science and once you’ve been around the block a time or two, it’s very intuitive. I predict the user’s guide will collect a lot of dust after the first read-through.

Next time: A whole lot more about trace lines.


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