Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Beeps, sounds, and alarms.....oh my!

At times your insulin pump will sound like a badly tuned musical instrument.  Your pump will come with many beeps, sounds, and alarms that are all designed to help you give attention to your pump.....you know, like you will forget it it there! 

Your alarms will generally be the same sound.  The difference will be how long the sound goes on for, and may be accompanied by a vibration.  The alarm is then posted as text on your pump that you are to read/clear.  Here is a list of various alarms you can either set your insulin pump to give you warning of certain things, or preset alarms that you cannot turn off (for safety sake):

- low battery: your insulin pump does not run on love, it runs on a battery.  While your pump will have a visual meter (just like your cell phone), you know that people do not always look at that.  Your pump will alert you to the fact that your battery will soon die.

- dead battery: unlike your cell phone, your pump will tell you that your battery can no longer function.  It holds onto just enough life to alert you every few minutes that your battery is dead (well, almost dead), until it actually dies.

- low insulin: when you are getting low on insulin in your resevoir, your pump will alert you that you will soon need to get more insulin.  You can generally program at what level you want to receive this alert.

- suspended: when you take off your pump, for things like a shower, or other activity, you can suspend your pump so it no longer pumps a basal amount of insulin.  However, it can be easy to forget to unsuspend it when you reattach it (I know it can happen, because I am often caught by this alarm).  If you get the suspended alarm while you are wearing the pump again, you hit yourself on the head and unsuspend the pump.  (The pump doesn't know it is reattached to you, but rings every so often just to say "Hi".)

- BG reminder: you can set your pump to remind you to test your blood glucose levels at a set time after doing a bolus.  Your doctor will often ask for a post-meal BG, and your pump can help you remember to do it.

- temporary basal: when you set your pump to do a temporary basal amount, as opposed to the preset basal rate, your pump will give you a quick reminder saying "remember me, I am giving you a different rate!".

- auto off: as a safety feature, you can set your pump to turn itself off automatically after a set number of hours (mine is 12 hours).  This is meant so that if you find yourself (or someone else find you) unconscious in a ditch, unable to eat, your pump is not going to continue giving you insulin bring your blood sugar lower and lower.  In my case, if I don't bolus (or tell it what my blood sugar is) for 12 hours, the pump turns off and gives an annoying alarm!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Use the wizard!

Using a wizard is really a great and easy way to help get the most out of your insulin pump.  I am not referring to the Dungeons and Dragons wizards or the one from Oz, either.  Your insulin pump will come with something called a "Bolus Wizard", or some other name that basically means a program to tell you how insulin you should be pumping.

How it works is that you will tell your wizard what your blood glucose level is, and how many carbs you are about to eat.  You then hit a couple buttons and the insulin pump will tell you to give yourself a certain volume of insulin, and it will break everything out into how much insulin is meant as a correction for high blood sugar, how much is for the food you are about to eat, and will also compensate for that fact that you may have some insulin left over in your body that is still working, if you only recently did your previous bolus (with a couple hours ago).

All of the settings that you enter into your insulin pump when you first set it up, or on-going changes based on discussions with your diabetes professional, contribute to this "magical" function that tells you within tenths of a unit of insulin how much to give yourself (note my constant use of "give yourself", because ultimately you are responsible for what is taken, but use of the wizards helps you see how much you SHOULD take, assuming no other extenuating circumstances).

This wizard will be able to take things into account, like the day of the week, time of day, and if you have set up rules for these time constraints.  What it will not know is what you cannot tell your pump, such as the exercise you are about to be doing, or if you are sick.

All pumpers should use this feature when they first start using their pump.  I would suggest that most experienced pumpers continue to use this function.  It ensures you are giving yourself a consistent bolus rate for discussions with your doctor, and it is so quick and easy.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Technology is great.....but

I love technology.  I love my smartphone.  I love my computer.  I love my tablet.  I love to bank on-line.  I love that I have an insulin pump and software available to me that will help me track my blood sugars and see trends. 

However, my smartphone cannot yet make phone calls, send texts, or access my facebook account without me doing something.  My computer can't type my blog posts for me.  My tablet can't make Skype calls for me.  My bank account still can't manage itself.  My insulin pump and associated software can't manage my diabetes for me.

Never has this been more evident to me than over the past almost month.  Today I finally did an upload of my blood sugars and basal/bolus amounts, etc.  I had to blink a couple times seeing how badly I have done with respect to control recently.  Had I done this review a couple weeks ago I would have surely seen the slippery slope I was starting to embark upon.  This has given me another jab to get things going again (I seem to need them every once in a while).  My only saving grace is that this has not been caught right before a doctor's appointment where I have to show the details of my recent control.

It is so easy with technology to assume it will do things for you, but you have to realize that while the technology in life, especially the technology designed to SAVE YOUR LIFE, makes things easier for you, you still have to be actively involved in what it does and how it helps you.  Information is only as good as what you do with it.