Information at Our Fingertips

It’s a great time to be a Diabetian! Well, there’s not really any great time to be a Diabetian — we’d all trade it in if we could — but if we’re gonna have this condition, having it in this current information age is a huge plus.

Technological advances have given us new forms of insulin — in the first years of my diabetes, I was still using the old regular insulin and was on a strict, scheduled meal plan each day; now, I tailor my fast-acting insulin to my food! Meters that used to hold a maximum of 100 readings and had no good way to share information have evolved to become mini-computers capable of sending massive amounts of records to your home computer.

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In Boston, researchers successfully tested an automatic, self-adjusting, self-regulating system of continuous glucose monitoring and insulin delivery. The device was made using an old iPhone! That’s right, an old cell phone was retrofitted to become the world’s first artificial pancreas — and it WORKED!

But it’s not just mechanical innovation that has led us to this moment. The information age has transformed how we manage this disease. Information that used to be scattered in hundreds of different places — in books, magazines, in our own notebooks and memories — is now available to stream right into the palms of our hands. While our hyper-connected world has its drawbacks, it also means that support from fellow Diabetians, answers to our questions, and resources are right at our fingertips. With so many of us carrying smart phones, that wealth of information is literally ALWAYS available (well, almost always…)

One of MY most exciting recent discoveries (and it really shouldn’t have been so recent — I’m sure this has been around for a long time) was the wealth of smart-phone apps containing absolutely MASSIVE databases of food information, specifically carbohydrates. I’ve been using one for the last week, and it has already made a difference. I’ve had diabetes for 20 years, but I was STILL guessing the carbs for certain foods WRONG. I was guessing 50 grams, and the truth was 65. I was guessing 45 and the truth was just 28. I was getting a lot of them right, too, but even just a few wrong estimates can throw off your blood sugar.

Knowledge is power for us Diabetians. Everything we do is a calculation, and if the numbers we’re putting into the equation aren’t accurate, the result won’t be what we want. Just correcting those few inaccurate calculations I was making before discovering this new app has impacted my control. And it has reduced my own anxiety, too.

We don’t have to do it alone
I’ve always taken a certain level of pride in my ability to accurately assess the contents of a meal. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ve talked to other people with diabetes who share this feeling. It might be part of our desire to prove our ability to stand on our own two feet while living with a disease that makes us very dependent on our medicine. Who knows. But we don’t have to be pioneers all the time. We don’t have to have ALL the answers. The information is right there, in our pockets, at our fingertips. It’s a great time to be a Diabetian!

  • Deb

    Can you name a few of the apps you have discovered including the one you use? I have an android phone, will they work with mine or only and iphone?

  • Scott Coulter

    I actually have an Android phone, too. The app that I found useful is Track 3. There are a number of apps, though. Each seems to be aimed at different areas. Some have a lot of nutritional info, some are more advanced when it comes to graphing and analyzing glucose and insulin doses. Track 3 has a very nice database of nutritional info for restaurants and typical foods.

    I’m sure the iPhone has a number of apps, but I’m not familiar with what’s available there.