Monday, February 27, 2012

Telcare BGM review

Recently I was given the chance to demo the brand spankin' new Telcare blood sugar monitor; the first cellular-enabled monitor on the market.

Can I just say that I've kinda fallen in love with this meter? Seriously, I might run off to Vegas and marry it, so smitten am I. The company sent me the monitor starter kit, plus an extra 50 test strips, so I was able to give it a pretty good test drive.

Using the Telcare BGM, you are able to check your blood sugar, then it automatically uploads your info using (free) cellular service to their website. The website has all the usual data; 7/30/60/90 day trends, graphs, average BG, high and low BG, etc. The meter comes set up for you, and the company provides you with the log in info.

First off, although it sort of resembles my husband's iPhone, it doesn't have touch-screen capability, which would be cool. Instead there are three buttons on the side that you use. It's a bit thicker than an iPhone, not overly heavy, and fits quite nicely into Elise's diabetes bag.

The screen is bright, with an easy to read display. And it has pretty colours... oooooh!

It knows my name!

Because the meter is a lot bigger than Elise is used to, she had a bit of trouble using it to check her BG at first, but soon got the hang of it.

Getting Started
It has a rechargeable battery (love. this.), and I had to charge the meter for 12 hours when I first got it, and also had to wait 30 minutes after charging it to use it. Then it's onto the control solution...

The manual instructs that you use the control solution the first time you use the meter, and any time you open a new bottle of strips. Here's where it's a lot different than other meters. You have TWO control solution bottles; L1 and L2. The manual says to test L1 first, and then do L2. Why? When I asked customer service the reply was, "to be twice as sure the strips are good" (not a direct quote, but the gist of the response).

You also have to make sure you're in "control solution mode", and the correct one at that (the meter has L1, L2, and testing modes). The process is a little cumbersome, and for someone who hasn't gazed upon a control solution bottle in a very long time; annoying. Plus, using two strips for control solution made me cry a little bit.

The meter is very easy to use, and even though I read the manual, I think you could easily navigate the meter without it. It takes a teeny blood sample, .8 microlitres, which I understand is larger than the .3 of the Freestyle strips, but smaller than what the One Touch requires (which is what we use). The meter can read between 20-600 mg/dl, and hold up to 300 tests.

Comparing blood samples

There is a 6 second count down and up pops your BG reading, all shiny. Here's how this meter compared to our One Touch:

please ignore my poor photography skills and the fact the the time is wrong on the One Touch meter

You then have the option of tagging the reading (before breakfast, after activity etc), and then here's where the magic happens; your reading is then transmitted via cellular service to a secure on-line website. And yes, there IS an app for that too!

ne thing about the tagging, you only have 30 seconds to pick one, or else is just goes undesignated. When you have a hungry four year old and a cranky 1 year old howling at you, it can be hard to pick a tag in that short of a time.

The meter also has handy little alarms that you can set up to remind you to test your blood sugar. It isn't really relevant to me, being the mother of a CWD, but I could see how it could benefit an adult.

When my meter shipped, I received an email with a log-in and password. Once on the site, you can view your data, customize your high/low settings, create printable reports, and allow a third-party (like your endo) read-only access to your data. Admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience with on-line tracking software, but I found the site easy to use and navigate.

I don't have a smart phone, so I've only looked over Fred's shoulder at the app, but he loves it. When he was at work he'd call me and say, "so, I see she was 112 before lunch!" Big brother is waaaaatching you!

Final Thoughts
I'm guessing this meter was designed with adults in mind, but I could see where this would be an awesome tool for parents of teens and pre-teens. For the kids, it looks cool. And for the parents, it would help us to keep tabs on our kiddos without having to always ask them for their numbers. Plus it's a great way for you to be able to view their numbers while at school (or a sleep over, at camp... etc.)

The meter retails for $150 ($100 with a contract) and the strips cost $56 for 50 ($35 with contract). The contract is basically something you sign for a year saying that the company will auto-ship you at least 4 bottles of test strips every quarter.

Right now, Telcare isn't in network with almost any insurance companies (as they are a fairly new start-up), but they are looking to change that as quickly as possible.

I think this is a wonderful meter and a handy tool to have in your diabetes care arsenal. We get a lot of the same information it supplies from our Omnipod PDM, but I preferred to view it it on the Telcare website.

ut, unless it becomes more affordable, we will not be using this meter once our strips run out. As soon as they are in-network with our insurance, you can bet I'll be looking into it again.

If you want to read more about this meter, Kerri has an excellent review (with more pictures than I have) here. And you can read the Wall Street Journal's review here.

To sum it all up, here are my list of pros and cons:

-small blood sample
-printable reports
-caregiver access
- free app
-rechargeable battery* (3 year lifespan)

*The charge on the battery lasted from Friday morning to Sunday night. Having said that, we probably wasted a lot of battery just by playing around with it.

-not in-network with pretty much any insurance companies
-not enough time to pick tag
-can't change BG tag (unless you added it manually via the app. You cannot change a tag you selected on the meter itself)
-only able to add new BG (taken with another meter) using the app

Although Telcare provided me with the meter and testing supplies at no charge, they did not ask me to review, blog, or say nice things about their product. All opinions are mine. And you can't have them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This BG went to 11

First let me clarify... I am not talking about Elise's BG. This post is about a dream I had the other night.

In this dream, I went into a store to buy cotton candy. As I was sitting on a sofa, waiting for my order, I decided to check my blood sugar so I could bolus myself for my yummy treat. Yup, in this dream I had diabetes.

Then came the weird part, an 11 popped up on the meter and all of a sudden I felt like I was dying. My field of vision narrowed until it was like I was looking through a pinhole. The woman brought me my cotton candy and placed it in on the table in front of me. I knew I needed it, but I felt like my arms were made of lead, and I couldn't even move.

I tried to talk, but nothing that come out of my mouth made any sense. I cannot even articulate how awful I felt. I awoke with a start; clammy and shaking all over. All I could think was, "is this how bad it feels for Elise?"

I don't know how, or why, but I feel like I actually "experienced" a low. I don't think my blood sugar actually went low, but I felt every symptom. Even recounting it days later is giving me the shakes, it was that awful.

I've had a dream like this once before, but this time it was so much stronger. But like the other dream, I know this one will also fade and become a ghost-like memory.

It makes me wish even more for a cure. So our kids won't ever have to feel this way again and their lows could also fade into nothing but ghostly vespers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How you can tell you are the parent of a type 1 diabetic - Part 2

These are the type of posts I write at 3 am, when I have yet to fall asleep after a night of fighting sucktastic BGs. I get kind of manic when I don't sleep...

-When a friend offers your child sugar-free candy, you are conflicted about whether you should be thankful they're trying (in their own misguided way) to get it, or if you should kick their ass for not getting it at all.

-While measuring you non-d kid's antibiotics into a syringe, you first try to put air into the bottle.

-You know that ketones are not a musical group from the 60s.

-When you see another d-person in the wild, you act like a dog does when they see another dog; beside yourself with excitement all the while fighting the urge to sniff their butt. What... is that just me?

-You get very excited when diabetes is mentioned in the news or on a TV show. You immediately run to your computer and blog/twittter (tweet?)/facebook about it. You make a mental note to talk about it at your next d get-together, and years after it happened, you will still talk to your d friends about it.

-When a friend casually mentions their child has been drinking a lot of water lately, you have to fight the urge to whip out your child's meter and test your friend's kids on the spot.

-You know that the Islets of Langerhans is not a tropical resort destination.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bend it like Beckham

She's got her cleats, shin guards, and will be wearing good ol' #7 on her back... I am so excited that Elise will be playing in her first soccer game this Saturday!

Does that make me a nerd?

I started playing soccer when I was 4, and played all the way up until I found out I was pregnant with Elise. The only time I took a break was when I had to have both femurs broken (not at the same time) when I was 15.

And now my little girl is following in my foot steps! The funny thing is, her shirt colour is orange, and so was mine when I was her age.

Of course I am pretty nervous about wrangling her blood sugars during the game (they have a 30 minute practice followed by a 30 minute, 3 on 3 game). Especially without the dex. Plus, Fred can't make her first game, so I'll also be chasing Mattias around too. Blergh.

I'm wondering if anyone has tips on pre-carbing/temp basaling. What would a good pre-game breakfast be (the game is at 10:30)? Any other tips would be most welcome!

don't have a pic of Elise all gussied up in her uniform, but I did find one from my early years... note how I am rockin' the bowl cut!

If you ask really nicely, I'll share some of my track photos... in which I am wearing spandex. You know you want to see that!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why yes... she CAN eat that!

The "that" in question being chocolate fondue, which Fred, Elise and I enjoyed last night as a Valentine's treat. Poor Mattias, who was running a temperature of 103 was not able to partake. Poor little croupy baby.

Elise was 170 pre-fondue (which is not too shabby considering we did a pump change and had Chick-fil-a for dinner), and came in at 180 four hours later. What she did during the in-between is anybody's guess, but waking up at 94 sure sounds like victory to me.

And because this post has a shiny-happy overtone to it, I'm not going to rant about how Valentine's has turned into yet another holiday where the kids bombard each other with sugar-laden crap at school. I told Elise that our new mantra is going to be, "just because you can eat that, doesn't mean you should."

Because NO ONE should eat a stick made of artificial flavours and colours dipped into even more artificially flavoured/coloured sugar.


Monday, February 13, 2012

I cannot tell a lie

It happened. I knew it would. Hoped it wouldn't. We have a long way to go on this journey, and I thought maybe we'd be able to skip this.

Elise snuck food.

Then lied about it.

We have an open door policy about food. If you want something, just ask... but I reserve the right to say no.

We had a bowl of M&M's (left over from Christmas), sitting on our island counter in the kitchen. Elise was helping me make dinner and I had turned around to stir something on the stove. When I turned back around, she whipped her hands behind her back and had a guilty look on her face. The following conversation ensued:

Me: Elise, what were you doing?

She: Ummm, nothing?

Me: Elise, what were you doing?

She: Maybe I ate an M&M?

Me: Just one?

She: Yeah, only one.

At this point, I though a BG test was in order, and surprise, surprise... 364. I told her that *just one* M&M wouldn't not make her BG that high, and I would appreciate the truth from her. She then replied that she "maybe ate 4. Or more. I can't remember."

I then explained to her about why it is important for her to ask me when she wants to eat something. And why it's important to tell me the truth. We talked about trust, not sneaking food, and when I say no, it's not to be mean... it's for a good reason.

The whole incident surprised me. Elise has always been a very compliant child; quick to listen and obey. I never saw this coming, and I hope I handled it properly. I don't want food to become an issue and cause problems later on.

Has your child snuck food before? How did you handle it? And I'd love to hear from adult PWD who went through this when they were kids. What do you wish your parents had done?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Meal Ideas: Steel Cut Oats

One of my favourite breakfasts is steel cut oats. I. Love. Them. What I don't like is the cooking time.

Steel cut oats are less processed than quick-cooking or rolled oats and thus take a longer time to cook. I don't know about anyone else, but I really don't have 25 minutes in the morning to throw this meal together.

Enter the crockpot. With this recipe, you can assemble everything the night before, and the oats cook through the night. A warm, yummy bowl of goodness awaits with very little fuss!

How you do it:

1. Take aluminum foil and roll them into little balls. This is what you'll be setting your bowl containing the oats and liquid on. It's important that water is able to circulate underneath the bowl. Place them into the crockpot (I use a 6 qt.) comme ça:

2. Fill a pyrex (or some other comparable bowl that will not shatter when heated) with the oats and liquid. The ratio is 1 cup of oats to 4 cups of liquid. I usually put 1 cup of milk and 3 cups of water in mine. Place bowl onto aluminum foil balls (he he he - balls).

3. Fill the crockpot with enough water that is is level with the level of liquid inside the inner bowl. Cover and set on low.

4. And voilà... your oats await you! I love to top mine off with a bit o' brown sugar and some milk. Or if I have them readily available, I simmer some blueberries and blackberries in some water until they are liquidy and put that on top. Anyway you fix them, steel cut oats are YUM!

Mattias doing his, "please sir, I want some more" impression. He LOVES this stuff. This morning he ate 4 bowls full and polished off the rest of mine.

Unfortunately, Elise is not really a fan... I think it's a texture thing. The one time I did figure out the carb factor, it came out to .15 (without any added milk or brown sugar).


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who's in?

I've been noodling this Friends For Life conference that's coming up in July. To say that I really want to go is like saying my last post was a little on the sad side.

With Mattias being so young, I don't think it's a good time to do the conference as a family. But I could totally do it by myself, right? I've talked to Fred and he pretty much has my bags packed already.

But I'm conflicted... I just noticed that FFL is 6 freaking days long. 6 days! 6! Did you know that I have never, ever, ever been away from my babies? Like, ever? And while I am all for getting away for a little bit... 6 days is long time for the uninitiated. I'm afraid that I would go, and then be like one of those kids who really misses their mommy while they're away at camp and has to be sent home early.

Yes, I really am that lame.

My other issue is that Canada also has a FFL conference. This year, it just happens to be in Vancouver. On my birthday. Have you ever been to Vancouver in August? It's like eating as much (insert favourite food here) as you want and never gaining any weight. Meaning, it's just about the best thing ever! Vancouver for my birthday? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, we are not wealthy... independently or otherwise, so doing both is not an option. If we were to go to Vancouver, it would be as a family. The Florida one would be just me flying solo.

What to do, what to do. What I want to know from you, dear people who live in my computer... who's going to FFL (Canadian or American)?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's a loney world in here

It 's a Saturday night and you know that outside your windows, plans are being made. People are going on dates. Movies are being watched, dinners eaten as families. Live music listened to. Couples holding hands and cuddling in the chilly air.

You are alone. Well, you and your children. But it has been days since you last saw a real live person that you're connected to. You look out the windows and think about the plans. You try not to dwell on the loneliness, but even the wind seems determined to make you sad; howling through the house and making the emptiness resound.

You are tired. You have slept only a handful of hours in the past few nights and your exhaustion only magnifies the solitude. The cause of your fatigue cannot solely be blamed on diabetes, but also having to rock a sick and teething baby well into the night and you're pretty sure you spent more time in your children's rooms than your own.

You're ashamed at your short temper; yelling at your children for the simplest wrong-doing. Remorseful, you pull them into your lap to apologize, just to find yourself doing it again 10 minutes later.

You think of your friends and wonder what they're doing. As you pick up the phone to reach out, the thought of trying to explain all you've been through the past few nights is too overwhelming, so you hang up; feeling even more alone.

You're jealous of the fun your husband is having while away in New York with his family. And while you don't begrudge him his good time, your mind selfishly asks, "when is that last time I got to do anything like that?"

I know I'm not the only one feeling these things. It's just diabetes has a way of beating you up and making you feel so isolated. And as I sit at my laptop and regurgitate my despondency upon the rest of you, I try to take solace knowing that maybe my words will resonate with someone else who feels the same way at this exact moment.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


What do you do when it's 4:00 am, you have yet to fall asleep, the prospect of sleep is very, very dim due to having been up all night fighting a high BG and ketones, and you've corrected via pump, syringe AND done a pump change with an extra bolus AND temp basal just to move that BG out of the upper 400s?

Why, you write haiku in your head, with a diabetes twist. And rename it dia-ku, all the while laughing maniacally at yourself in your very sleep-deprived state.

(I won't mention that this was the second night in a row that we had high BGs because of blood in the cannula - oops, I just did).

So that's what I found myself doing last night instead of sleeping. Fred is out of town and I was afraid with all that insulin coursing through her body, Elise would drop dangerously low. So I wrote some haiku and thought I'd share some of my craziness. Join me, won't you?

High, then low, then high
Who needs to sleep anyway?
Stupid growth hormones

Darkness surrounds us
489? WTF!
Time to change your pump

High BG, ketones
Why won't these corrections work?
Diabetes sucks

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Things diabetes taught me this month: January edition

-Sneaky tummy bugs are TOUGH! When Elise is low, she says her tummy hurts. When we were having all those lows earlier this month, Elise's BG was constantly diving into the 40s, she she was saying her tummy hurt ALL THE TIME. I just chalked it up to her being low, when I should have been looking at the other signs like the fact that she never wanted to eat. I had the same bug the next week and it sucked. Live and learn, right?

-So many of you commented on this post that when I freak out, it makes them feel normal. Which in turn, makes ME feel normal! So I will continue my freaking-out ways. You know, for the betterment of the DOC. At least, that's what I'll keep telling myself.

-We can do pizza and a cookie cake right after a pump change and still ROCK IT! Elise went to a birthday party on Saturday, and just before we left we realized we had to change her pump. Nooooooo! I knew what was on the menu and that it probably spelled a long night ahead. But we did a pre-change bolus, a temp basal and had her sitting at 98 before bed. Woo to the hoo!

-Pump change on Chick-fil-a days, however, are not so good.