If the world ended, and I somehow managed to be one of the few survivors in the new post-apocalyptic world, this is all I would need to manage my diabetes.
The world hasn’t ended. And yet this past month, I learned firsthand what life would be like without all of the technology that helps me manage this disease.
Back to Finger Pricks
First, my prescription for the wireless transmitter component of my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) expired. My health insurance company requires a letter of medical necessity, certified from my endocrinologist, every year (you know, because I may be miraculously cured in that time span). For some reason, medical supply companies and doctor offices still communicate by fax (archaic!). Fast forward three weeks from when I put in the order for a new transmitter (I documented the whole saga on social media, by the way), and my transmitter dies.
Again, the world has not ended. And now I am pricking my fingers 6-10 times per day to manage my blood sugar. Not knowing when my blood sugar will rise and fall, let’s just say I didn’t sleep much in those few days I waited for my new transmitter to ship. My blood sugar was all over the place.
Loss of Insulin Pump
But I survived (still no miraculous cure). Then a week later, my personal diabetes manager (PDM), which I use to administer insulin via the pod attached to the skin near my belly button, malfunctioned. When I called customer service, I followed their instructions to reset the PDM. No luck. It completely zeroed out. So, now I had a working CGM, but for the next few days, I would need to inject insulin with a syringe and vial.
Side note: before an insulin pump, I used two flex pens, essentially an EpiPen filled with insulin – one for my bolus insulin (the amount I take before a meal) and one for my basal insulin (the amount I take for a 24-hour period to keep my blood sugar stable between meals). Don’t worry – I only learned this terminology when faced with potential as a result of a seemingly manageable disease.
With a syringe, I can only take a bolus shot. And I have to remember exactly how much active insulin is in my system for correction dosages and such (for me, insulin stays active in my body for three hours after delivery). Also, the smallest measurement on my syringe is 0.5 units. Sometimes, when managing diabetes, I take correction dosages of 0.3 units and basal rates of 0.25 units. Hard to do without more advanced supplies.
Tiny but Mighty
Then, something miraculous did happen. Gizmo swooped in and saved the day (aka I put a Triple A battery into my six-year-old Medtronic insulin pump and hooked it up using some old supplies and voila!).
I wasn’t particularly fond of being tethered to Gizmo 24/7, but I could rest easy knowing I wouldn’t pass out at work the next day from lack of practice managing my blood sugar levels with a syringe and vial. It’s also nice to know if I ever lost my job or needed to make a sudden move, I can rely on Gizmo and a myriad of backup supplies to survive.
Learn more about the research that has saved my life time and time again.