Monthly Archives: July 2013

Traces of Diabetes. What it means to me.

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I guess all of us see something like this from time to time. Especially if you spend too much time looking down at the ground while you’re walking (subject for another post at another time). I saw this test strip as I was walking on the sidewalk in the neighborhood where I work.

Lots of people have talked about their experiences coming face-to-face with diabetes in the wild. Often it’s something innocuous like this; sometimes it’s a real life meeting with another PWD. Reactions seem to range from the funny to the poignant to the ironic. Let me tell you what it means to me when I see something like this.

Often, when I come across evidence that someone else with my condition is around, I’m almost… shocked. I go through about 98 percent of my life never coming into contact with anyone living with or affected by diabetes. Actually, I’m almost never coming into contact with anyone who wants to reveal those things. So I kind of forget that there are others out there. You would think that with all of the blogs, Twitter feeds, etc. I read, and my own participation in social media, it would be enough to help me remember that there are actual real people going through the same things that I do every day.

But still, when I saw that test strip, it was a big surprise. To me, it wasn’t something exciting as much as it was a slap in the face. Guess what? You’re not the only one, stupid. And no, you haven’t really connected with any PWDs in your part of the world yet.

I’ve tried, but all previous attempts just kind of fizzled. The reasons are many and varied, and in some cases, I’m the one to blame. I’d like to think that my biggest obstacle to connecting in real life with others like me is my schedule, which has been busier in the last two years than it was the previous ten. The truth is, it’s both an obstacle and an excuse. I don’t have a lot of extra time, but I have a little. Maybe that little extra time can be used for some grass roots effort somehow. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’ve changed a lot in the past couple of years. If I want that change to be even more meaningful, I’m going to have to find a way to do something for others living with and affected by diabetes right here in my own community. I’ve just got to figure out how to make that happen.
 
 
 

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#DSMA July Blog Carnival. Test strip accuracy.

Let’s get right to it… One of the most basic things about our diabetes, and July’s DSMA Blog Carnival topic:

Blood glucose. It’s front and center when it comes to diabetes. It is how we get diagnosed and it is what we are trying to manage. An important tool we use to manage our blood glucose is our meter and its strips. But what happens if our meters aren’t giving reliable information? Let’s explore that this month as we discuss a topic from the June 26th chat Fill in the Blank. Weigh in on the following statement:

Test strip accuracy is important to me because______.

The easy answer is: Because our lives depend on it.

The more difficult, but very necessary analysis of what test strip accuracy is even more important, but leads to the same answer.

Let’s face it: Most of us don’t think too much about test strip accuracy once we’ve bought our blood glucose meters. Some of us received our meters from a doctor. Some of us went out and purchased a meter based on quality, or how it looks, or whether it has a function that lights up your test strip so you can check your BG at night without turning on the light. But for most of us, once we have a meter, we don’t stop to think much about the accuracy of the strips that we insert 3 or 4, or 10 or 12 times per day.

But we’re learning that there are reasons to be concerned about the accuracy of our test strips. Even the USA’s Food and Drug Administration, the agency of the government that has to approve all medical devices before they can be marketed or sold here, acknowledged that some test strips are not as accurate today as they were when they were approved for use in the first place. Furthermore, they have no method of removing inaccurate test strips from the market once they’re found to be inaccurate.

How does this happen? That’s the subject for another blog post. Instead, let me ask: How does that make you feel?

Raise your hand if you can live with using test strips that may be off by 50 or 100 points at any given time, based on any number of factors. Raise your hand if you it’s okay with you that heat or cold tolerances, or age, or humidity can skew the numbers on your meter display by enough to cause you to bolus a unit or more different from what you really need. Raise your hand if you’re perfectly fine with the idea that the company that developed the technology for the strips you’re using doesn’t have a plan to test the continuing accuracy of those strips (**Note: Some manufacturers do conduct ongoing tests on strips… many do not, and are not required to do so).

Think about it… millions upon millions of us, living with diabetes. Testing our blood glucose many times per day. Making decisions about diet and exercise and bolus amounts based on the numbers showing on our meters. Why? Because we want to believe that if medical technology has been approved for our use, the accuracy of that technology is above reproach. Do you see now why test strip accuracy is so important? It’s the baseline for countless decisions we make every day.

So without question, test strip accuracy means the world to myself and my loved ones. We want to know that the number on our glucose monitors is correct. Because our lives depend on it.

This post is my July entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at
http://diabetessocmed.com/2013/july-dsma-blog-carnival-3/

 
 
 

Happy #BlueFridays to you.

Happy Blue Friday!!!

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Okay, I totally stole this idea from Alecia over at SurfaceFine, who posted a photo of her blue boots.

It’s Friday, and for me and for everyone living with diabetes, I’m wearing blue today. Back in 2010, Cherise Shockley of Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation and DSMA Twitter Chat fame decided to ask everyone to wear blue on Friday to show support for people living with and affected by the big D. The idea caught on, and three years later, it’s still going strong. A giant blue wave, if you will. I was a little late to the party, but now I’m one of a zillion people out there sporting the blue and raising awareness. To find out more, click on the photo above to go to the Blue Fridays page at Diabetes Social Media Advocacy, or visit the Blue Fridays page on Facebook.

The Great Spousal Unit bought me these retro sneakers for Christmas last year. When she asked me what color I liked, you better believe I said blue right away.

Is it wrong to look at something in blue and wonder how you’d look wearing it on a Friday? I think not. #MakesSenseIfYouHaveDiabetes

Enjoy your weekend!
 
 
 

Reservoir Recall, and the FDA Gets Tough.

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This is an FYI post, in case you haven’t heard about it yet. If you’re a Medtronic pumper, you will hear about it because Medtronic is sending a letter and FAQ sheet to all their pump users.

Medtronic Diabetes is voluntarily recalling specific lots of reservoirs for Paradigm insulin pumps. Apparently, the affected reservoirs are at increased risk for leaking. The photo above is part of the FAQ sheet I received that lists the lot numbers that are being recalled.

Now, I know it’s easy to bash a company for making something that is eventually found to be faulty. But I will also give you some facts, according to the recall notice sent to me:

– First of all, this is a voluntary recall. No one made Medtronic recall these reservoirs. I don’t know if there was any kind of communication between them and the FDA, for example, that led to the voluntary recall before a mandatory one. But still, a voluntary recall always happens faster than a mandatory one.

– Medtronic conducted an investigation of the cause of this issue, and found that the reservoirs in question were all manufactured on a specific manufacturing tool that developed “abnormal wear”. They have corrected the issue and put additional testing and inspection in place.

– Med-T has a number to call if you have the recalled reservoirs and need new ones right away: 1-866-450-0890. They will ship the new ones free of charge to you.

Medtronic acknowledges a few cases of diabetic ketoacidosis requiring hospitalization that may have been caused by the faulty reservoirs. I don’t want to belittle these cases, or the patients and their loved ones involved. I also think it would have been nice if I’d have received an e-mail, or a tweet from @MDT_Diabetes. Other than that, what I am saying is that if a product I’m using does need to be recalled, I want the recall to be done like this.
 
 
Also, the FDA has cracked down on companies selling products that claim to help mitigate, treat, or cure diabetes, but as we know, they don’t. This includes “natural” treatments that have undeclared ingredients; dietary supplements that claim to treat, cure, or prevent diabetes; homeopathic over-the-counter meds that claim to help with peripheral neuropathy; and prescription drugs sold by pharmacies without a prescription.

Take a look at these products, and where they’re from. It proves that there are scam artists just about anywhere you go. These products are being pulled from the market by the FDA:

– Diexi by Amrutam Life Care Pvt. Ltd., Surat India.

– Anastasia Diapedic Foot & Leg Treatment by Anastasia Marie Laboratories Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla.

– Exermet GM, Galvus, Nuzide, Triexer and unapproved versions of Januvia, all from
bestcheapmedsonline.com.

– Diaberex by Enhance Nutraceutical.

– Zostrix Diabetic Foot Pain Relief Cream, Zostrix Diabetic Joint & Arthritis Pain Relief Cream and Diabeti-Derm Antifungal Cream, all from Health Care Products, Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co., Amityville, N.Y.

– Sugar Balancer by Health King Enterprises & Balanceuticals Group Inc., Chicago.

– Insupro Forte by INS Bioscience Berhad, HLS International Sdn. Bhd., Easy Pha-max, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.

– Diabetic Neuropathy Foot Cream, Diabetic Foot Cream, and Diabetic Hand & Body Cream by The Magni Group, doing business as MagniLife, McKinney, Texas.

– Eradicator by Naturecast Products, Coral Springs, Fla.

– Diabetes Daily Care by Nature’s Health Supply Inc., College Park, Md.

– Glucocil by Neuliven Health, San Diego,Calif.

– Neuragen PN and Neuragen Cream by Origin BioMed Inc., Halifax, Novia Scotia, Canada.

– Nepretin by Nutrient Synergy, Longmont, Colo.

– ProBeta by PharmaTerra Inc., Bellevue, Wash.

For more information, and to stay up-to-date or report on Diabetes drugs or devices, visit FDA MedWatch at www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm
 
 
Happy Wednesday… Stay safe!
 
 
 

#DBlogCheck – My writing. And more importantly, yours.

Hello… I’m Stephen, and I’m a blogger.

You know, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever written that. It may sound weird, but I don’t really think of myself as a blogger who writes. I think of myself as a writer who blogs.

The thing is, I love to write. I enjoy turning a phrase.

I’ve also found a bit of a calling, at least for now, writing about my diabetes. That’s how I qualify that too. I think of writing about my diabetes, even when I’m not. Because if it affects someone living with diabetes, it affects me.

Where am I going with this, exactly?

Chris Snider of A Consequence of Hypoglycemia and the Just Talking Podcast started this idea with a post last Monday that suggested a check-in day. A day for all of us in this glorious Diabetes Online Community (and if you don’t think you are, you’re included too) to make an effort to make a comment on every blog that you read today. If you can’t think of anything to write, that’s okay… Just write the word Check in the comment box. Many of us are turning off the features of our blog software that block anonymous commenters, so anyone can check in, even if it’s just to say “I’m here”. Also, don’t forget to tweet and retweet the goings-on by using the hashtag #dblogcheck. As Chris says, “It’s not about page views, it’s about building a stronger community through interaction”.

Which leads me to the subject matter of this particular post…

Maybe I’m not reading things correctly… That’s possible… But lately, I’m worried that there may be individuals out there who are feeling overwhelmed by all of the bloggers out there, or the more popular bloggers, who might get more page views or get written about a lot. Or maybe you’re a person who has thought about telling your story online, but you’re thinking “Hey, I’ll never be as popular as (fill in the blank)… Why bother?”.

I need to tell you something very important: If you’re only reaching one person, that one person is the most important person in the world. Even the most influential social media darlings can’t possibly reach everyone. But what if you reached that one person that needed to hear your virtual voice on that one day when it mattered most? Would you sign up to pick someone up from the depths of despair? Would you sign up to be the person who shared critical information with someone that wouldn’t know about it unless you wrote about it?

If you make a difference in someone’s life by writing, by tweeting, by instagraming, then you are a hero. That is a fact. Even if the only difference you make is in your own life.

Trust me… this Diabetes Online Community is big enough for everyone. It’s a place where the most supports the least, whether that’s with much-needed supplies, a word of encouragement when you’re feeling down, or with the knowledge that your voice is important– even necessary.

If you don’t know how to get started, e-mail me at the link provided at the upper-left corner of your screen. I will be happy to help you get going.

Your story is the most important one in the world to the person moved by it. Don’t let down the one person who needs to hear you.
 
 
 

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