I think that “changes” and “diabetes” complement each other fairly well. In the nearly two decades that I’ve had diabetes, change has been inevitable and fascinating to watch.
First and foremost, the technology itself has changed drastically. I remember using a meter that would take a full 60 seconds to test my blood sugar. This is around the time I was in elementary school, and I would go to the nurse’s office to test before every lunch period. I’d pace the room while I waited the agonizingly long minute to obtain my blood sugar reading. Over time, the amount was reduced by a whole 55 seconds, so testing is much faster than it used to be.
That’s just the tip of the technology iceberg. Roughly five years ago, I was introduced to the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) for the first time. This really changed the game for me and was super helpful when I went off to college. Since then, the CGM has become sleeker and more accurate: a trend that most diabetic devices seem to follow.
Okay, so those are a couple examples of big changes concerning blood sugar monitoring. But how has insulin injecting changed? When I was diagnosed, my shots were administered by drawing insulin out of a vial using a syringe. That changed when insulin pens came out. Now, all I had to do was screw a needle onto the pen, dial up how many units I needed at a given time, and inject myself. While it made transporting insulin from point A to point B much easier, it was also an imprecise injection practice. Your only choice was to inject a whole number of units instead of fractional amounts, forcing you to round up or round down each time you gave yourself a shot.
It was tough at times, but not as stressful as mixing insulin, as I had to do way back when. Remember cloudy and clear? Rapid-acting and long-acting insulin used to have to be combined in order to effectively manage my diabetes. I was a bit older when I started giving myself my own insulin injections, so this was primarily my parents’ job. I do remember “helping” them by rolling the little glass vial of NPH (which does not stand for Neil Patrick Harris) between my hands to mix up the cloudy insulin. I have to give major props to my parents for being pros at mixing the insulin. It’s stressful enough having to give your own child multiple shots daily. Nobody needs the extra challenge of making sure not to cross-contaminate vials of insulin.
And how could I forget the incredible strides that have been made in the realm of insulin pumps? As a relatively new pump user, I’m still getting acquainted with the many advantages associated with a pump. I’m not even sure of the exact number of insulin pumps that are out there, but I do know that they vary greatly – some have tubes, some don’t, some are touchscreen, some function as both a pump and a CGM…such an array makes me feel optimistic about future advancements to come.