Technology in diabetes has come a long way in recent times. In the almost-sixteen years I’ve had diabetes, we’ve seen the advent of ‘smart’ pumps, CGMS and even trials of closed-loop systems that make the artificial pancreas seem a real possibility in the not-too-distant future.
BGL meters are smarter too, with new ones having built-in wizards to help keep track of insulin on board to avoid stacking-induced hypos. Carb to insulin ratios and insulin sensitivity factors can also be programmed to help calculate the amount of insulin required, taking into account how much insulin is still active, the carbs in what you are about to eat as well as your current BGL. These calculations, once the domain of pumps only, can now be used by all people with diabetes with minimal training.
There are aggregate apps that pull together data, make them into pretty graphs and assist with finding patterns, highlighting problems and allowing the user to send the information to their HCPs for online discussions (or follow up at your next face-to-face appointment).
There is data everywhere and we can track, estimate and predict our BGLs, insulin doses, carb intake. It’s all there for the taking.
And it can be overwhelming.
If information is power, then with this much information at our fingertips, we should all be incredibly powerful! But sometimes rather than power, instead I find it’s information overload. I stop responding to the data because there is just too much of it. In the same way that we are bombarded with social media updates so we stop listening, the never-ending data stream become white noise, too hard to distinguish anything of any real meaning.
I mentioned that in an endeavour to keep things simple, I stopped wearing my CGMS. There was no point in attaching an $80 sensor if I wasn’t going to be doing anything with the numbers it was constantly giving me. Instead, it made sense to do whatever BGL checking I felt I could manage and actually respond to the information in a meaningful way.
I’m still enjoying this lower level of data collection and am finding that it has contributed to be staying on track, rather than contributing to a season of burnout. Tailoring the information I can deal with is a smart way for me to ‘cope’ without being the data nerd I am at other times.
You will never hear from me that the technology available in helping manage our diabetes is a bad thing. You will never hear me say that it is a waste of time or pointless or an unnecessary expense. But I will say that I think there needs to be an acknowledgement and understanding that sometimes it’s just too much and can result in feelings of desperation, exhaustion and a sense of it all being just too much!
If you are finding that all the data is excessive and paralysing you into inactivity, think about cutting back the information you are collecting to the basic minimum. This, of course, will be different for everyone and there is no right amount of data for everyone. Being safe, feeling satisfied and being able to cope with what you are getting is key.
It’s Friday! So here are the Pogues.
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