Archive for the Category Diabetes

 
 

The Insulin Pump

Things you learn from wearing an insuling pump after 27 years of taking shots:

  • Three days seems like such a long time — until you’re counting the days to change your infusion set. Then, it flies by. Just when you’ve gotten comfortable with one site, it’s time to change it out.

  • Checking your blood sugar is no longer a chore. It will never mean having to poke yourself with a needle again right afterwards.

  • Those annoying blood sugars somewhere between “perfect” and “just slightly high”? Not a worry anymore. Since the pump can dole out insulin in teeny tiny steps, let it do the work. You can think of 135 as a high blood sugar now if you want, since the pump will push out a little insulin to bring you back to 100. (Mine just gave me .1 unit for just that reading.) You never would have wasted a needle for less than a unit like that before.

  • You’re so hip wearing a pager on your belt!

  • Carbohydrates are measured in grams. OK, you likely knew that before, but you likely didn’t care that much.

  • Being in peak physical shape is awesome and all, but having a couple extra pounds around the belly makes for a far easier injection site, I have to think.

  • Women have a slight advantage here: With all their pants being low-rise, they have more room to plug themselves in.

Apple’s Healthbook and Diabetes

This is Healthbook, Apple’s major first step into health & fitness tracking | 9to5Mac.

9to5Mac has a scoop of what might just be coming up in iOS 8. It’s called Healthbook, and it’s one central place on your phone to put all your health data.

The most interesting section to me, of course, is the “Blood Sugar” part. Some immediately jumped that it meant that (A) the iWatch is coming and (B) the iWatch would magically check your blood sugar readings.

That last part is never going to happen. But — there’s a solution here for diabetics that’s awesome, if Apple can pull it off. There are things called CGM — Continuous Glucose Monitors. They stay attached to you around the clock and measure your blood sugar levels through your interstitial tissues every minutes. They then beam the numbers to another device you keep on you to show you your readings. The insulin pumps these days can read those numbers, but the displays make for an ugly look into the data. Imagine a custom iOS app with nice graphs and tables of data? It would be much easier to use, and more likely for a diabetic to use it.

There’s no reason the iPhonecan’t graab that signal, aside from the proprietary nature of the data format? If Apple can strike a deal with the medical device manufacturers who make the CGMs, they can unlock those signals and make apps that show you how you’re doing.

I’m not sure if Apple would go so far as to add this data to the iOS 8 framework — I’m sure HIPPA would not make it easy, and users would at the least have to approve it on an app by app basis — but it would be nice if they could…

The iWatch to Save All Diabetics

I’m still extremely cynical and pessimistic on this one. With evidence now that Apple met with the FDA to discuss wearable medical devices, the iWatch rumor mill is back at it.

9to5Mac is putting together the pieces and sees:

>Besides fitness tracking, a marquee feature of “Healthbook” will be the ability to monitor a user’s vital signs.

>The application will be able to track a person’s blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and potentially several other blood-related data points, such as glucose levels, according to our sources.

I’m still not believing it. Measuring blood glucose is still reliant on blood samples. Measuring it by the moisture on your skin is still too science-fictiony for me.

Could Apple Save Glucometers?

Reading this article (it’s from 2012) is as frustrating today as it must have been to write back then. What’s changed in the glucometer industry since that was written? Absolutely nothing.

But the author makes an interesting point, and it made me put a random two together with another random two to create a piece of wild speculation that would be cool if it actually happened. Follow along:

A point in the article is that syncing your glucometer up to your computer, let alone your iPhone, is a ridiculous process. At best, you can buy a special wire to hook up the two, whose standards are not open. So you’re forced to use the manufacturer’s piss poor software. And you’re still connecting a cord. People don’t want to do that with their phones, let alone their glucometers.

We have wireless technology today. Bluetooth standards have only gotten better over the years. Recent upgrades mean Bluetooth chips use a miniscule amount of power. They won’t drain the batteries of glucometers anymore. It’s bad enough we’re stuck on oddly-shaped black and white 8-bit screens, but why can’t we get the data off the glucometer without writing it down or manually re-typing all the results into the computer? The data has already been entered. Why does that effort need to be duplicated? I’d rather get a half hour more exercise each week than spend time in front of an Excel spreadsheet or web site’s form to enter all those numbers in.

I know this sounds like a classic First World Problem, but it’s the reality of the situation. It’s how Apple has become such a huge company, by removing the little obstacles that technology presents to getting things done that matter in every day life. Why can’t the diabetes world have a savior like that?

What if it IS Apple, though?

From a recent 9to5Mac.com report:

Apple has also hired several experts in the field of non-invasive blood monitoring sensors from C8 MediSensors. This firm is a company that became defunct in February of this year, according to its former CTO Rudy Hofmeister (who departed the company in late 2012).

The company’s technology provides a non-invasive way to measure substances in the human body such as glucose levels. [...]

During a phone call, the former CTO told us that the company broke down because the glucose-level-analysis technology was facing issues surrounding the consistency of data readings. When the company dissolved, Apple moved aggressively to hire several C8 MediSensors directors and engineers, including designers and scientists that specialize in machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence that focuses on interpreting forms of data), Hofmeister said.

Could an iWatch have a blood sugar reader incorporated into it? While I would love that idea, I’m not sure it’s feasible just yet. It would be the ultimate solution, particularly if it kept a constant read of your levels, even if only every 15 minutes. But what if there’s a middle ground here?

One Touch Test Strips for diabetes

What if those two were hired for their connections with the diabetes industry? What if their job is to schmooze key players in the diabetes world to add Bluetooth to their Glucometers so that they could sync up with iPhones directly, or indirectly through an iWatch? Wouldn’t a company like LifeScan love to be featured at the iWatch roll-out as having a new glucometer that ties in with this “stunning” new device?

Maybe.

It would be cool, and it would certainly be less impossible sounding than an actual watch that read blood sugar magically through the skin.

Just a theory.

P.S. My glucometer’s time stamp doesn’t automatically change for Daylight Savings Time. I’m a professional computer programmer, and I have not been able to figure out how to change it manually. I think if I pulled out the battery, everything would reset so I would have to reset the time. But then I’d lose my history of readings. That’s an awful user experience.

Overview of High Tech Diabetic Management

Here’s a great video from a guy who has both an insulin pump AND a continuous glucose monitor. Here he goest through his routine of changing out his pump and monitor sets.

I admit that there’s a moment about 9 minutes into this video that got me a little emotional. This being a father thing softens you up…

You can read his full story here, and I definitely recognize parallels to my own situation, though I was only 11 when mine was diagnosed.

I found all this while following a story about hackers killing diabetics from a half mile away that is more than half-hogwash. Don’t worry, it’s not true. And since I don’t use a pump, I wouldn’t be affected, anyway.

Diabetes Type I Cured! (Maybe) (Again)

On the perhaps brighter side, we return to the research of Dr. Faustmann, who years ago I once sent the biggest charitable check in my life to. (Lee Iacocca was a big contributor to her work at the time. That link is from 2006.)

She’s seeing results now for curing diabetes through a TB vaccine:

The first trial in a handful of humans has suggested that injecting patients with Type 1 diabetes with an inexpensive vaccine normally used to prevent tuberculosis can block destruction of insulin-secreting pancreatic cells in humans and allow regeneration of the pancreas. Such a finding, if confirmed and expanded on, could lay the foundation for freeing the estimated 1 million U.S. Type 1 diabetics from their daily insulin shots. It brings up a word that is rarely or never used in considering the disease: “cure.” Such an outcome is still a long way in the future, but Dr. Denise Faustman of Massachusetts General Hospital has already come a long way in her quest to find a new treatment paradigm for diabetes.

So she’s actually showing progress, at least, moving in a direction that most people gave up on too long ago, in the hopes of making it easier to take shots and prick our fingers endlessly. Thanks, Dr. F!

A New Cure For Diabetes! (Again)

Every month or two, this blog likes to highlight the latest cure-all for diabetes. Often, it involves only Type II diabetics, and usually nothing comes of it in the long run.

So goes another cure. This time, it’s extreme dieting:

Eleven people with diabetes took part in the study, which was funded by Diabetes UK. They had to slash their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months. But three months later seven of the 11 were free of diabetes.

Still nothing’s been done for those of us who got screwed genetically, not just from eating too much damned McDonalds…

Five Years Later, Diabetes Fail

Let’s flash back now to this very blog, January 20, 2006:

Pfizer Inc. hopes to begin selling Exubera, the first inhalable version of insulin to win federal approval, by midyear.

To which I wrote:

I’ll believe it when I see it, and not even then. I’ll believe it when there isn’t a class action suit a year later.

and

The promise of inhalable insulin has been around for as long as I’ve been diabetic — almost 19 years now. It’s right up there with the watch that will keep constant track of your blood sugar without taking blood. (That’s sorta out now, too, but with its own cavaets.)

In case you’re wondering what happened to this wonder drug, let’s consult Wikipedia:

As of October 18, 2007, Pfizer has announced that it will no longer manufacture or market Exubera. According to Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Kindler this is because Exubera “failed to gain acceptance among patients and physicians.”

At the time of Exubera’s discontinuation, several other companies were pursuing inhaled insulin… However, by March 2008, all of these products had been discontinued except for MannKind’s Afrezza product. As of March 2010 Afrezza was still under FDA review.

So, like I said, don’t get your hopes up when it comes to diabetes cures or medications.

Diabetics to Love iPhone 3.0

The story is a couple of weeks old, but I’m pretty sure I blogged the story that this is a sequel to a couple years back.

AppleInsider | “Jesus Phone 3.0″ touches diabetic blogger

During Apple’s iPhone 3.0 event, the presentation of a mobile-attached blood glucose monitor for diabetic users apparently bored some journalists in the room. However, the demonstration not only revealed Apple’s most important leap yet in mobile devices, but also answered the pleas of a diabetic blogger.

I want one of those now!

Forget the cure, find the cause!

Common plastics chemical linked to human diseases | Health | Reuters

A study has for the first time linked a common chemical used in everyday products such as plastic drink containers and baby bottles to health problems, specifically heart disease and diabetes.

Now that we have a crackpot explanation for diabetes, I expect a crackpot cure to come along this weekend.  The universe needs balance, after all.

Diabetes Cured. Again.

It’s been a while since the last miracle cure for diabetes.  I’m glad I can bring the latest and greatest advance in medical science that will never pan out to your attention:

Scientists Reprogram Adult Cells’ Function

Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research.Through a series of painstaking experiments involving mice, the Harvard biologists pinpointed three crucial molecular switches that, when flipped, completely convert a common cell in the pancreas into the more precious insulin-producing ones that diabetics need to survive.

I think I’ll go stock up on Diet Pepsi now. . .

Welcome to the club, Nick Jonas

Nick Jonas, of The Jonas BrothersFinally, Disney gives diabetes some attention!

FOXNews.com – Nick Jonas Launches Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Campaign

Pop superstar Nick Jonas is already an inspiration to the millions of teens and ‘tweens’ who hang on every lyric sung by his band the Jonas Brothers. But Jonas, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, hopes a three-year partnership he’s created with Bayer HealthCare will serve as an inspiration to others living with this disease.

The Diabetes Epidemic

I’ve been diabetic for 21 years now.  I was WAY ahead of the curve on this one! Diabetes rates skyrocket among Americans, CDC says – CNN.com

The number of Americans with diabetes has grown to about 24 million people, or roughly 8 percent of the U.S. population, the government said Tuesday. The number of diabetics, who often use insulin pumps, has risen about 3 million over two years, says the CDC. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data from 2007, said the number represents an increase of about 3 million over two years. The CDC estimates another 57 million people have blood sugar abnormalities called pre-diabetes, which puts people at increased risk for the disease.

But the thing is, mine is genetic.  This epidemic mostly stems from people who don’t exercise enough or eat all of the wrong foods.  They’re going to see the bulk of spending done on fixing them, while those of us who are just stuck with it from birth will get nothing.

Life’s so fair, isn’t it?

Diabetes Not Cured For Another Year

But Bayer is making good on a bad batch of test strips for their glucometer:

2007 Press Releases

Bayer Diabetes Care has initiated a voluntary market recall of test strips (sensors) used exclusively with the Contour TS Blood Glucose Meter. In the course of its routine quality control monitoring processes the Company identified a manufacturing issue with test strips from specific lots that could result in blood glucose readings with a positive bias that is outside of our product specifications. Test results may demonstrate results 5 -17% higher.

5-17% ain’t bad, but it ain’t good, either, especially at higher numbers. There’s a difference in the amount of insulin I’d take for a 200 blood sugar, as opposed to a 234, for example. But between 80 and 85? Nada.

Glad to see a company actually utilizes their QA testing. . .

Diabetes Management on the DS!

DS Game Takes Place of Glucose Monitor | Game | Life from Wired.com

The GlucoBoy, a glucose monitor that lets users play games by plugging it into a GameBoy Advance or DS, could be an important tool for helping children learn to manage their diabetes. [...] The GlucoBoy helps players manage their diabetes by awarding points whenever they perform a glucose test, with extra points given out if the test results fall within specific goals. Points can be used to unlock new games, or can be spent at GRiP (Guidance Reward Platform), a site that offers accessories, apparel, and cards for Knock ‘em Downs, one of the games featured in the GlucoBoy.