I was diagnosed with Diabetes on my 8th birthday. Luckily I got to have my Birthday Party, unfortunately no cake for me. I spent the next week in the hospital finding out about Diabetes, I remember the shots, having blood taken multiple times a day, learning to read urine test strips so I knew how I was doing. They taught my mother how to give me shots, how to control my blood sugar with Insulin. At the time we had Regular and NPH, Regular was a quick acting Insulin for food being eating now and NPH was a long acting insulin for controlling things during the day or at night. This was OK, only 2 shots a day; one at Breakfast and one at Dinner. If I wasn’t feeling right, I could pee and see how I was doing. Was I on target, between 80 and 120, or was I low or high. At the time it was considered best to be a little high in the 120 to 160 area.
Eventually BD released the Glucometer which allowed diabetics to do their own blood sugar via finger sticks. This was a game changer, now we knew what our blood sugar actually was. peeing on a test strip and matching up colors wasn’t exactly perfect, if anyone has an aquarium and tests the water by comparing the sample with drops to the color on a piece of paper you know the feeling, is it this green or this green or this green they all look so close to each other.
Then long acting insulin’s came along which lasted 24 plus hours. Now a single shot of long acting insulin in the morning. But needed more shots of fast acting insulin at meal time. This is where the pen needle came into play. Now I could give a shot at breakfast with a long acting and a fast acting insulin, use the pen at all other meals. No more having to go to the bathroom to prepare my shot when dining out for dinner, I could just do it at the table quickly and easily.
At this time blood sugar machines had become tinier and tinier. That Glucometer was a big piece of electronics to carry around. But this new insulin had made it so much easier to control diabetes, that target of 80 to 120 was accomplishable with less concern. New faster acting insulins were developed which allowed the shot before a meal to be given closer to when you were ready to eat with less of a bump after eating as the food and insulin started to take hold at the same time. Regular insulin was supposed to be taken 30 minutes before eating, good luck with dining out. We were now able to give insulin when the food arrived at the table, instead of when we were seated and worrying about the food being delayed and causing a low.
While longer lasting insulin’s were here and faster acting insulin in a pen was much easier to deliver while out and about. My body still wanted insulin delivered over a constant. The insulin pump was developed for this specific case. No more shots, or at least a single pump change every 3 days.
While blood sugars with finger pricks were bearable doing 2 to 4 a day, it didn’t give a full picture. Was I going up or coming down? The Continuous Glucose Meter (CGM) took a reading every 5 minutes. I now knew if my blood sugar was going up or down at this moment, should I give less or more insulin before this meal. I also got alarms should things be changing radically, or had passed a certain mark, I was no longer dependent on noticing something wasn’t right. Noticing that something isn’t right is not a good method, since diabetics stop noticing that things are wrong since they’ve worked through them so many times before.
Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Meters to save the day. What about bringing the capabilities of the Insulin Pump to give a continuous Basal Rate of Insulin and a Bolus of Insulin when eating, the CGM’s reading of blood sugar, and the computing power of your smartphone to utilize this data to control the Basal rate with pluses or minuses based on current glucose readings. This has become Looping. With Looping your smartphone becomes the brains of an artificial pancreas.
I’ve been Looping now for 2+ years using my OmniPod EROS Pump, Dexcom G6 CGM, RileyLink, iPhone 7, and Loop. It has significantly changed how I interact with my diabetes. I no longer have to carry around a bag filled with Diabetes stuff, everything is my Phone and everyone has one of those, so I just look like everyone else at a restaurant not paying attention to anyone else at the table on my phone when I’m checking my blood sugar or telling my Insulin Pump how many Carbs I’m about to eat. But, this hasn’t changed me from being loud that I have Diabetes, I tend to stay away from certain foods since they don’t agree with me, but so do a lot of other people and this makes it easier on everyone to pick a lunch outing that fits well with everyone.
Loop and Learn