Archive for September, 2013
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works … To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”
Those were the words of the late Steve Jobs in an interview with Wired in February 1996. More than a decade later, Tandem Diabetes Care took this idea to heart with its new t:slim touchscreen insulin pump, which it designed after conducting a remarkable 4,000 in-depth interviews with patients, healthcare providers, and caregivers. Tandem really wanted to get inside the minds of people who take insulin – pumpers and non-pumpers alike. The new pump was approved by the FDA in November 2011 (see new now next in diaTribe #38) and launched just last month. I was able to get trained on the t:slim at Tandem’s San Diego headquarters soon after it launched, and what follows is my experience wearing the device over the past week. So far, three themes have emerged: some clear differences from other pumps, a focus on simplicity and convenience, and an attention to safety.
- iPhone-like touchscreen
- Rechargeable battery
- Highly customizable “personal profiles” for insulin delivery
From the minute I opened the shipping box, it was clear that the t:slim pump was somewhat different from other pumps I’ve used – included with the pump were a USB charging cable and adapters for both the wall and car. Even the included user manual comes on a credit-card-like thumb drive. But the most obvious difference between the t:slim and other pumps is the touchscreen. I found this to be the most compelling feature of the pump and a major departure from the button-driven devices I’ve used since I began pumping in 2002.
Related articles and resources
Flu season is right around the corner and certified diabetes educators like Elaine Blackwood know the time is right to advocate flu shots and raise awareness among people living with diabetes. Instead of learning how to overcome a flu attack, Blackwood would rather see her patients avoid the bug altogether with timely and regular immunizations.
It is hard to predict how dangerous a bout with the flu can be. It can be serious for anyone, but it is particularly risky for people with chronic conditions like diabetes. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, using oral medication, injections or an insulin pump, the need to protect against the flu is great. If you have questions about your specific needs, Blackwood says it is best to discuss your concerns with your doctor.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says the best time to get flu shots is beginning in September. The shot takes about two weeks to take effect, but if you are dealing with an illness like a respiratory infection or cold, you should wait until you are well before getting a flu shot.
The Mayo Clinic explains that chronic medical conditions can also increase your risk of influenza complications.
These conditions include:
- Cancer or cancer treatment
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Kidney or liver disease
If you are talking to your doctor or diabetes educator about getting a flu shot, please remember to seek advice about getting a pneumonia vaccine. People with diabetes are about three times more likely to die with flu and pneumonia.
A pneumonia shot is recommended for people with diabetes older than 2 because of the greater chance of getting and dying with pneumonia. The ADA also explains the pneumonia shot can also protect you from other infections caused by the same bacteria.
For more information about the flu shot visit
Diabetes has long been known to worsen other conditions. Researchers looked at people with both diabetes and COPD and are suggesting treating the conditions together for better outcomes.
COPD is a group of illnesses that involve the restriction of air flow and it stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD may include chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both. Chronic means the condition is long term. You will have it the rest of your life, but you can learn to manage it. Pulmonary refers to your lungs and airways. The condition is obstructive because it limits the flow of air into and out of your lungs.
The COPDGene® Study is one of the largest studies ever to investigate the underlying genetic factors of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. A primary goal of the study is to find out why some smokers will develop COPD and others will not.
Diabetes educator Elaine Blackwood explains many people with COPD limited their activities or avoid things they used to enjoy because they become short of breath more easily.
Symptoms of COPD include:
- Constant coughing, sometimes called “smoker’s cough”
- Shortness of breath while doing activities you used to be able to do
- Excess sputum (thick mucus cough up from the airways) production
- Feeling like you can’t breathe
- Not being able to take a deep breath
When COPD is severe, shortness of breath and other symptoms can get in the way of doing even the most basic tasks, such as doing light housework, taking a walk, and even bathing and getting dressed.
COPD develops slowly, and can worsen over time, so be sure to report any symptoms you might have to your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible, no matter how mild they may seem.
Diabetes Management & Supplies offers accredited diabetes education services that can make managing diabetes and other conditions an easier task. For more information on care management needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929 or email an educator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on the study, read the full article Dual-pronged approach to diabetes and COPD needed.
Avoiding the highs and lows is crucial in maintaining good blood sugar control. Lowering blood sugar levels is a common goal for children and adults with diabetes, but extreme lows can bring dangerous complications.
Hyperglycemia means your blood sugar is high, for most people this is 200 or higher. Hypoglycemia means your blood sugar is low, for most people this is 70 or lower. Each extreme carries symptoms that people with diabetes and family members should learn and be able to recognize as they develop.
Diabetes educator Elaine Blackwood urges parents and caregivers to be on alert because children and adults can be prone to the spikes and crashes of diabetes. “All people with diabetes should learn about the highs and lows as well as how to treat them,” she said adding that insulin pumps may not eliminate this concern, but it “helps to limit the amount of times it may happen.”
- You may have no symptoms or you might experience:
- Increased thirst
- Increased need to urinate
- Increased tiredness
- Blurred vision
If You Feel Symptoms
- ALWAYS check your blood sugar right away. If it’s too high:
- Drink water or other sugar-free liquids to stay hydrated.
- If you take insulin, you may need an extra dose. Ask your healthcare provider for instructions about taking extra insulin.
- Check at least every four hours to make sure your blood glucose is doing down. Call your healthcare provider if it doesn’t go down after two checks, or if symptoms get worse.
Low Blood Glucose
- A drop in blood sugar can happen very quickly. You might experience:
- Sweating or cold, clammy skin
- Dizziness, shakiness
- Hard, fast heartbeat or headache
- Confusion or irritability
If You Feel Symptoms
- ALWAYS check your blood sugar right away. If it’s too low:
- Eat or drink 15 grams of fast-acting sugar. This could be three to four glucose tablets or ½ cup (4 oz) of fruit juice or regular soda (not diet).
- Check your blood glucose again after 15 minutes. If it’s still low, repeat Step 1. Check again in 15 minutes. If it’s still too low, call your provider right away.
- Once your blood glucose rises, eat a small snack if your next planned meal is more than half an hour away.
Diabetes Management & Supplies offers insulin pump training and accredited diabetes education services. For more information on specific insulin pump needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929 or email an educator at email@example.com.