Computer-Aided Diabetes Care? Why Not?

“What did we ever do without computers?” I asked myself, both rhetorically and somewhat sarcastically after dealing with a minor glitch. I swear I could hear the voice of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz cackling “I’ll get you, my pretty” in the background.

And she did “get me” for, shortly afterward, the blue screen of death appeared on my computer, and that was that. I had no computer — a fact that was quickly brought home to me when I went to look up my little computer geek’s contact info…which was on my computer. Which was, at that point, playing the role of a giant paperweight.

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Frankly, I glare at my computer. I glare at it lot. I still think of computers as typewriters with benefits, except typewriters don’t hightail it into another dimension when you accidentally flick a fingernail against the wrong key. What good is it, anyway?

My grandchildren, who are in their 20’s, laugh at me. Or, more specifically, at my lack of computer skills. I’ve never told them I didn’t see my first computer until I was a teenager — and that was one that sorted cards. I didn’t touch a computer until I was in my 30’s.

But I’m also the one who bought them their first computer program and held them on my lap while they banged on the keys to make balloons. I like to think that’s why they’re so comfortable with computers…and I’m not.

Back to my story: There I was, unable to access addresses, phone numbers, or mail. I couldn’t check account balances or pay bills. I no longer had a calculator. Passover was looming and my recipes were trapped inside a broken machine.

Can you guess what I missed the most, however? My diabetes software. I’d been having a lot of lows lately and needed to print out results from my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor to get a full view of my blood glucose patterns so I could base my decisions on the best data available.

No, I haven’t done that yet. A new computer was necessary, so it’s been busy here trying to get acclimated to a new computer with updated programs. At this point, I can’t even figure out how to open a blank page. This is being written on a file that contains recipes for matzo kugel, matzo balls, and matzo brei.

Maybe after things settle down, I will figure out how to include the amount of carbohydrates consumed, at what time, how much insulin was taken, and time and intensity of exercise done on my meter, continuous glucose monitor, or insulin pump to get an even better overall picture of what’s going on that’s likely to affect my blood glucose readings.

One thing’s for sure: Computer-aided diabetes control is here to stay. And it hit so fast! Back in the dark ages (the 1990’s), I had to put a huge dollop of blood on the strip, wait one minute, wipe it off, then wait another minute for the results. I suspect we’re all aware here that today’s meters darned near give you a result before you’ve even thought about checking.

  • Tad

    This article reminds me of the day I got my second insulin pump. I’m a programmer, and was taking an advanced software engineering course at the time. My endocrinologist and I had a good laugh over the case study we were using in the course: fail safe programming for an insulin pump. I suspect it won’t be long before the glucose meter and pump manufacturers start including blue tooth in their products so you can access that data on your cell phone instead of on a desktop of laptop.

    BTW, I miss the old days of computers that used punch cards. They were great for making Christmas wreaths and such!

  • Tonya L Shattuck

    Hi Jan
    I just came across your blog when looking for information on c diff. It was an old post but I couldn’t belief some of our similarities. But the one that surprised me most was your mention of holiday world!! What a small world it is. Of course I still call it Santa Claus land as that’s where my wild and crazy grandma would take us on our visits to her in southern Indiana. Not many scary rides then but the hilly roads in southern Indiana and grandma’s driving was about all the thrill I could take.
    Okay back to why I was looking up c diff and a little back ground.
    I’m a type 1 diabetic , diagnosed at age 30(22 yes ago), I too am on pump therapy and a cgm. And from what I’ve seen of your blog I think I could benefit from your experiences.
    I need to spend some time and really get to know how to use my pump and cgm more effectively.
    When my city got its first endocrinologist about 15 years ago I jumped at the chance to get a pump. After several years on a Cosmo pump I was notified that they were stopping production and I could switch to a minimed pump. That was fine except I had to do it immediately in order to get the best deal. My new pump arrived a week before the passing of my best friend and two weeks before our daughters wedding. So that’s my excuse for doing a better job getting to knowy pump. Okay I’m getting chatty. The point is I’ll be reading your past post for insights and wondering if I may pick your brain with questions. I can sometimes be lazy and take the easy way out?!! I’ll be in touch. Thanks Tonya