Confidence is pretty important when you are climbing. Granted you want to avoid overconfidence, but knowing what you can do and being able to count on it in a pinch is vital. Confidence comes from knowing and not guessing.

At least 99% of the last 13 years I have spent guessing–about my blood sugar. I won’t lie and say that I havent gotten pretty skilled at it–but it’s still a crapshoot. No, I’m not coming out as a “bad diabetic” (non-compliant, in denial etc–the term “bad” diabetic is erroneous in that it connotes a personal evaluation) but I have checked my sugar…a lot of times. Lets figure conservatively and say I check my blood sugar 4 times a day that I am on pancreas duty. That would be literally every day since January 16th 1999.

Lets do the math: (365 x 13)4= 18,980 times that I have measured my blood glucose by stabbing my finger and testing the blood. All that to say that I have done my due diligence as a compliant diabetic by testing the recommended amount. The only problem is that for the other 1,400 some-odd minutes of the day, I have no idea WHAT my blood sugar is doing. And THAT is the standard for “blood glucose management”.

Bear in mind that the fluctuations of blood sugar are THE biggest obstacle of living with Type 1 Diabetes as well as the biggest risk factor for further complications like kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, amputations and all the usual characters.

Let’s put it in a different perspective–several–I’m feeling saucy…

  • Your boss only spends 4 minutes per day at work. None of those minutes are consecutive. How does that affect productivity and morale?
  • Your bank account only allows you to read your balance 4 times a year. How does that affect your ability to budget?
  • I complete project 365 with only 4 pictures or 4 blogs to show for my time out climbing. How does that allow you to understand what I have been doing?

I trust that you see what I am getting at. Now…there exists technology to measure blood sugar almost 300 times a day. 4 times day vs 300. You may have noticed some pictures and chatter about this technology on our Facebook page over the weekend. Knowledge is power and so I am feeling even more empowered and I am compulsively taking photos of my blood glucose readout. Who doesn’t like feeling powerful?

Full disclosure: I have memorized almost every episode of Seinfeld. When I am soloing or climbing at all really and I need to focus and stop thinking about the dicey anchor that is protecting a series of moves or the imaginary anchor that isn’t there at all…I revert to quoting my favorite moments–which usually involve George.

Having said that, I can honestly say that this advancement in diabetic technology is the first thing to really excite me  despite all of the gadgetry that has come to light over the course of the decade because it will allow me to push myself a lot harder with a much greater margin of safety. Knowing what my blood sugar gets up to while I’m not hovering over a glucometer is going to give me a much more accurate picture of what I am doing right and should keep doing, versus what needs work.

So here are the broad strokes–I plan to share how this works over the coming weeks in greater detail and I am happy to discuss it if anyone has questions about it!

Getting the CGM system set up at Insulindependence HQ while The Hammer (Josiah) looks on. (Photo by Peter Nerothin)
This is the transmitter that "lives" on my stomach for a week or two at a time. This part "talks" to the receiver and gives near continuous glucose measurement.


This is the receiver that you may have seen popping up on our FB feed--the readout shows what my blood sugar IS and where it is going (see the arrow?)

For my next act, a rant: Why are these things not the standard of care for everyone with diabetes? Sure sure, it costs money and everyone knows the insurance companies are looking to cinch their purse strings closed. But what about the long term? Keeping one person off of dialysis could save enough money to pay for this technology to be made available to 5 people for 10 years. That statistic is completely made up but I would love to see someone with a more mathematical brain crunch the numbers. Because I KNOW that more “capable” people are ultimately going to be less of a burden than people who need more care because they couldn’t accurately see what their blood sugar was doing.

If the medical community actually gives a rats ass about preventative medicine, they’d do well to make sure that every person gets one of these setups with as they leave the hospital upon diagnosis. What is more disturbing to me is the fact that so many medical professionals are not up-to-date on this technology–how are we supposed to trust our doctors when they are unable to provide us with the best tools to take care of ourselves. Worse yet, try explaining the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes to an insurance drone when they tell you that they can’t cover you because of the implication that you must be unhealthy–but that’s another rant in itself.

Bottom line, this device is not just a handy gadget…this device is power–power to stop fighting this adversary with one hand tied behind your back.

ex post facto: I am NOT sponsored by Dexcom and I am not receiving any compensation of any kind for my vehement opinion. I just realized that I have been rubbing sticks together rather than using a zippo.