So a while back the people who make the OmniPod asked me if I would like to contribute to their new blog called Suite D. I said yes, but I had one caveat that I honestly never thought that they would agree to - but they did!
See, Insulet wanted me to write a series of posts about how we use text messaging to manage Arden's type I and I wanted to tell that story here on Arden's Day. My caveat? I get to repost my writing here after it has run on their blog. This is not something that many websites would agree to because they understandably want their content to be fresh and exclusive -- I want to give major kudos to Insulet for agreeing. You may be wondering what I said to get them to allow me to do this... Well, it was simple really. I couldn't write for them and give them my full effort if I felt like my writing was taking something from Arden's Day and taking something from you. I was honored to be asked and I wanted to take the freelance work, but not at the expense of my readers here. So we struck a simple, and I think, very reasonable deal. I get to repost after the piece has been live on their site for at least thirty days. A BIG "way to go!" from me to Insulet for being so cool and blogger friendly! Here's part 3 of my 6 part series on gaining independence through technology.
Part 3: Kicking Diabetes’ Butt!
In my last post, Helping Children with Diabetes Gain Independence Part 2: Texting Diabetes, I promised to tell you about Arden’s A1C. There are a number of things that I attribute to the reduction of Arden’s A1C, including:
- The support of friends, family and teachers
- The OmniPod insulin pump
- Finding the correct insulin dosing for Arden
- Utilizing Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
- Taking advantage of overnight monitoring (no food makes it easier)
- The Diabetes Online Community
- Being aggressive with high blood glucose levels
- Making good food choices
- The way that we manage diabetes while Arden is at school
Our children are at school for eight hours a day and that is a substantial chunk of time. In the past, Arden would eat or take insulin and then not see the nurse again for hours, scheduling her next check around the time we expected the insulin action to compete. So if there was a miscalculation of insulin at lunch or some other anomaly, Arden would go hours with an elevated blood glucose level. By removing other people from her diabetes management process at school,we also removed the constraints of relying on those people’s schedules. Arden no longer only considers her diabetes at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM. Now we address diabetes-related issues as they arise and have the ability to make small adjustments. Being able to bump a low blood glucose and reassess in 20 minutes is far more effective than taking in a predetermined amount of carbs, hoping for the best and addressing any high blood glucose values that may arise hours later.
Similarly, if a mealtime bolus doesn’t work the way we expect, Arden’s CGM tells us her blood glucose is on the rise and she instantly texts me. I couldn’t expect the nurse to be comfortable giving more insulin an hour after a meal, but I am. I know Arden and how she reacts to different situations. I have the full knowledge of her diabetes history in my head. I can make adjustments on the fly, just as she will be able to do one day when we transition away from me being involved with her diabetes care every moment.
This access to Arden during the eight hours of each school day allows me to have the same control I do when she is with me, because honestly… it’s like I’m there.
Now, I promised you information on her A1C, so I better get to it!
All of the things I listed above are, in my opinion, critical to Arden’s A1C. I love the fact that she sleeps for a third of every day; diabetes management is so much easier then when there’s no food involved. There are two reasons I was able to let go of my fear of nights: the OmniPod and CGM technology. Using an insulin pump is key, because it allows for the reduction or temporary suspension of background insulin. For me, manipulating temporary basal rates is the essence of controlling borderline lows throughout the day – and especially overnight. The CGM lets me know if my plan hasn’t worked out and that’s already a third of the day covered.
The part of the day that she is with me and awake is the toughest for me. Handling things like big meals at inopportune times, running to sports and homework can be challenging. And I can get tired and unfocused in the late afternoon.
Arden’s A1C was in the nines when she was diagnosed. It languished in the mid-eights for years. I finally began to combine all of my diabetes theories into a cohesive plan in the early part of 2012 and we saw a reduction to 7.8. At the beginning of this school year we managed to get that number to 7.5. I was happy! Then the new school plan went into effect, which allows me to happily tell you two things today that you may not believe…
Arden has NEVER visited the nurse’s office for a diabetes related issue since we started our texting system and her A1C is 6.5.
Update on 2013-10-10 14:18 by Scott Benner
This post was written over four months ago. Since then Arden's A1c has been tested again and was 6.7.
Please know that I was compensated for my writing in an amount that would be considered standard for freelance blogging. My family pays for Arden's OmniPods with insurance and out of pocket cash. My writing for Insulet has no impact on my opinions or the information that I share here or anywhere online.