30 Days With Diabetes: Alarms, Alerts and Beeps

I’m constantly being alerted by my diabetes devices. It’s amazing I haven’t been conditioned to tune them out. Sometimes, the beeps annoy the hell out of me, and I yell at these devices with little to no effect.

So, what’s with all the beeps? And why do I keep certain alerts on, even to the detriment of office cube mates and dinner companions? Some of these alerts literally save my life. Others just keep me in check. Each alert is different, and over time, I’ve learned exactly what each type of beep or alarm means. But that’s hard to explain in words so instead, I’ll just give a quick summation of what I may be alerted to when you hear an odd sound emitting from my bag.

From my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

aka an app on my phone

  1. Urgent low (blood sugar is below 55 mg/dl)
  2. Low (below 80)
  3. High (above 200)
  4. Rise Rate (blood sugar is rising)
  5. Fall Rate (very important for preventing severe lows)
  6. Transmitter Failure
  7. Sensor Failure
  8. Enter blood sugar value (for twice daily calibrations from a finger prick)
  9. Enter blood sugar value once I pair a new sensor (this alert is the most annoying, especially if I’m driving and can’t confirm that I’ve received the alarm. It will continue to go off until I do).

These alarms are set to always sound, even if I’m my phone is on Silent or Do Not Disturb. This is especially important for urgent lows while I sleep. The Low and High alerts are on vibrate only – my blood sugar is rarely in the 90-120 optimal range, so these alerts would literally drive me and everyone around me crazy.

From my Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM)

the blackberry looking device I use to administer insulin to a white pod attached to my skin

  1. Expiration (pod will expire in 4 hours) – I can technically leave the pod on for 8 hours after its expiration, but it will annoy me with an alert every hour to change it.
  2. Low reservoir (less than 10 units left – my pod carries 100 units for 3 days)
  3. Administering insulin (whenever I give a bolus for a meal)
  4. Finished administering insulin
  5. Temporary basal rate set (whenever I set a different basal rate of insulin for a period of time)
  6. Temporary basal rate complete (I can set temporary basal rates for any length of time, usually 30 minutes to 2 hours)
  7. Confirm pod is working – two hours after I change out a pod, the PDM will always alert me to check my blood sugar and make sure the pod is working.

This post is part of my 30 Days With Diabetes series

personal diabetes manager

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