Friday 9 April 2010

50, 370

In my lifetime I have gone to sleep 9,855 times, give or take. I was an undergraduate student for 912 days. I have eaten 29,565 meals, with a few extra snacks here and there. I have also done 50,370 blood tests and rising.

Technological advances in the last twenty years in the area of glucose testing have been somewhat astounding to say the least. Only twenty years ago, glucose testing was all about peeing on a stick. Much like a pregnancy test is today. But the result would be varied ands out of date, in that it would provide you with a result of what was happening in your body hours after it actually happened. Pretty useless seeing as in order to keep yourself in a stable condition, adjustments need to be made based on the information of the here and now! Next, we moved to glucose testing. Taken from the limited memory of a four year old girl, I remember piercing my finger with a lancet and placing a drop of my blood on a strip, which had two pads at the end. Here, the drop would sit for a minute while the glucose in your blood changed the colour of those two tabs. Then, we would wipe the strip and compare it to colouring on the bottle, which would tell us the rough (and rough is a kind description) estimate of the region your sugars were now in. Eventually a machine would be invented which would read the result, giving you a slightly more precise reading, as the colouring of the strip would be analysed by the device, making the result more consistent if nothing else now that human estimation was out of the equation. Nowadays, blood tests take 5 seconds at most, are far more precise than ever before, and require far less blood, meaning we no longer squeeze the crap out of our fingers. Excuse the crass description, but there isn't another way to describe it that would convey the way it really feels!

With my discovery of diabetes blogging there came a wealth of new information brought to me by the typing of a phrase or series of words. Not just in the diverse and ingenious ways people deal with the everyday demands of diabetes, such as where is less painful to inject, which companies people prefer to and the way people take control of a sometimes seemingly unmanageable disease. There also came a global online library of information about new products, developments in treatments and dare I say it, a cure. This library is open all hours, you don't need to be a member, there is no charge for late returns, and the literature is provided by people from all four corners of the world. This library led me to CGM.

CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) may well shatter my 'ambitions' of becoming the Olympic Gold Medalist for having stuck my finger with a needle more than I do anything else in my life. More than I sleep, eat, laugh or cry. While blood testing is now extremely 'convenient', compared to those good old days, it still involves forcing yourself to bleed 5 or 6 (minimum) times a day. if you don't bleed enough, squeeze harder. Blood testing leaves no room for being kind to your fingers. Losing the feeling in your fingers in pretty common for diabetics. Imagine pricking yourself with a needle six or more times a day, your nerves would give up too, eventually. CGM is the latest and perhaps most exciting development in diabetes self-care. Much like the insulin pump, a small device is attached to the skin using the adhesive plasters. Attached to these plasters is a sensor with a needle attached, which is inserted just below the skin. This sensor will then feed real-time information to a receiver device, and will give you 24 hour glucose trend information, letting you know when you are going up, going down or remaining steady (yes, apparently this is possible!).

The best part about this is that the sensor has FDA approval to be inserted into the skin for seven days. SEVEN! This would mean rather than 5 injections and blood tests a day, I would be doing one jab for the pump every 3 days, and one for the blood glucose every seven. Seven - I can't stop saying it!

I am still looking into this new idea, and although it sounds wonderful, it doesn't come cheap. Not for those on the NHS anyway. But the idea that this could mean 24 hour blood test results, with only a minute percentage of that damned needle sticking, is enough to get any diabetic excited.

I'll write again soon when I know more about it.

Over and out.

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