June DSMA Blog Carnival. Diabetes Devices.

On June 27, 2013 by Stephen Shaul

June’s DSMA Blog Carnival prompts us to think about the many devices we use in our daily lives with diabetes, and asks some great questions:

Regardless of which type of diabetes you have – T1 T2 or T3 – you probably use one or more diabetes devices on a daily basis. For this post, when we refer to devices we mean blood glucose meters, insulin pens or pumps, and all other diabetes medications. This month we’re going to revisit the May 15th chat on Diabetes Devices and really think about what we use. We’d like to know:

How do you select the diabetes devices you use? To others looking into new or replacement devices, what would be your best advice to someone shopping around?

This really brings back some memories for me. If I may, let me give some advice by telling you how not to choose devices.

First, let’s talk about meters. After my diagnosis, I just accepted the first meter that was handed to me, and I used it for about ten years. I mean, they wouldn’t give me something that helps determine how I use insulin and the various ramifications of said usage without it being 100 percent accurate and never failing? Right?

Wrong. It’s not that my meter wasn’t good for its time (it was 1991, after all– only 45 seconds to get my BG!), but I didn’t even think of whether there might be an alternate meter I could use. And if the one I had was still working, why would I need a new one? Then came the day that an endocrinologist asked to see my meter, and she laughed at me when she saw it. She said, “You know, meters have really come a long way since the Mesozoic Era”. I had no idea. It simply didn’t occur to me that things could change, and meters could be even better. From then on, I tried to keep an eye on the latest improvements in meters and test strips, so even if I wasn’t changing meters, I would know if there was a major improvement of some kind that should prompt me to upgrade this very important device. Lesson: Stay current… maybe something better, or at least more useful, is out there.

Now, let’s talk about insulin pumps and infusion sets. When I first decided to start pumping insulin instead of injecting it, I had really only seen or read information on one pump product. So when my endocrinologist (who I had just started seeing six months earlier) said I should read about additional manufacturers of insulin pumps, I took her advice but didn’t really change my opinion about what I wanted.

In the end, I chose the pump that I’m using today for a couple of good reasons, and a few bad reasons. Chief among the bad reasons were the fact that I didn’t really consider the other pumps. I had my mind set on one only, and that’s the one I chose. Also, and this is very important: I didn’t ask anything about any other pump, and I didn’t get any demos or trial runs of any other pumps. This is completely not like me, and I want to kick myself every time I think about it. I should have done trial runs of other pumps. I should have listened to the sales pitches from the other reps (because that’s what you get… sales pitches). I should have asked a lot of questions.

I can’t say that I’m unhappy with my choice of pumps. What I have works very well, and it’s amazingly reliable. Those are big metrics for me. So I’m pretty happy I wound up with the pump I’m using. But I really wish I had done a little more due diligence, so I would be absolutely happy and sure of my choice. Lesson: Be an informed patient and consumer. It can only benefit you in the long run.

These are a couple of examples that I can point to to say: Don’t make my mistakes. Learn about potentially new meters, medications, and yes, insulin pumps if you’re using one or plan to use one in the near future. Ask a lot of questions. A lot. Here’s an idea: Why not reach out via social media to get feedback on something you’re thinking of? Most of you know how responsive the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) can be, and how we’re very good at giving you the unvarnished truth. Finally, if you can, ask to do a trial run of your potentially new device so you can be even more sure you’re making the right decision.

I can’t guarantee that following this advice will help you land the perfect device to help you manage your diabetes better. But I do know this: More information will help you make the best choice you can make. And who wouldn’t be happy with that?

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