Living alone with diabetes

Leslie and Brandi

Ever concerned about living alone with diabetes? Like most other things, it just means some extra preparation and a little occasional help from your friends.  Today, MiniMed Ambassador Leslie Kramer tells us how she does it. 

Almost 40 years ago a very wise woman, my mother, allowed me to make the most important decision of my life. Two days after my T1D diagnosis, she sat on the side of my hospital bed and said the words that changed my life forever, “You have choices. You can stay with me and I will take care of you and give you insulin shots but is that the life you want? If you want to go to sleep over parties, go away to camp and to college, you need to learn how to take your own insulin shots.” 

I stuck my hand out immediately for the orange and syringe and learned to take care of myself. In offering me a choice to live my life, she also taught me that there are much worse things in life than diabetes that had been thrust upon me, and to not let diabetes run my life.  I am so grateful for her matter-of-fact manner and the “choice” she gave me. I have never looked back.

 Me and Mom 

Today, I am a single person living with type 1 diabetes, which has always been an easy decision for me. However, being single with diabetes has become easier for me now that I live with my MiniMed 530G system. It also makes me feel safer and better protected. Here are three ways I use technology to help me: 

My pump and sensor have given me control that I never had before. These, along with the MiniMed Connect app make it easy for me to see my active insulin, so I can plan before I go to sleep to avoid the overnight lows that happen to all of us, even with the best of planning. 

1) Before Bed Ritual – Checking on Active Insulin 

A few hours before I’m ready to go to bed, I will look either on my pump or my MiniMed Connect to see if I have too much active insulin on board. (“Too much” is different for each person so check with your doctor about what this would be for you.) If I do, I will suspend my basal insulin or treat with protein so I can avoid the overnight lows and pump alarms. Living alone makes it that much more important to not sleep through lows since there is no one to wake me up and tell me to treat or call 911 (which I have never had to do, thank goodness). 

2) MiniMed Tech Takes the Nightwatch While I leave SmartGuard technology turned on all of the time, having it during the nighttime has given me the added security to know that if I do sleep through the Threshold Suspend alarms when I’m low that my pump will stop giving me insulin if my sensor reaches a pre-set low level (for me that is 60 but you can set it anywhere between 60 and 90 mg/dL). 

3) A Little Help from My Friends 

For added security, I recently gave up a tiny bit of my independence. After all of the years on my own, I now have other friends with type 1 diabetes and have set-up text alerts to be sent to a few of them from MiniMed Connect, based on my sensor readings. If my sensor glucose goes low and I don’t respond to the alerts from my pump, the MiniMed Connect app will send a text message to my friend Brandi on the West Coast and my friend Michelle who doesn’t live too far way. Brandi is three hours behind in time so typically my alerts won’t wake her in the middle of her night, since she’s still awake. She will send me a text and if I don’t respond, she will call to make sure I am, in fact, alive. It gives me comfort and a sense of security to know that both of my friends are looking out for me and it gives them peace of mind to know that I am ok.

 CareLink alert text

I love living on my own. I work in Manhattan, have a home in New Jersey, take vacations, go to baseball games, concerts and events with my friends. I can and always have been able to take care of myself. I am forever grateful to my mother for giving me that choice. My path was set that day to never let diabetes rule my life and it hasn’t. She set me on the road to greater independence. My MiniMed 530G system and MiniMed Connect have solidified my choice for independence into an ongoing reality, making it easier for me to appreciate and enjoy my life.

 Concert photo 

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION 

Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is intended for the delivery of insulin and continuous glucose monitoring for the management of diabetes mellitus by persons 16 years of age or older who require insulin. 

Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately. 

The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is not intended to be used directly for preventing or treating hypoglycemia but to suspend insulin delivery when the user is unable to respond to the Threshold Suspend alarm and take measures to prevent or treat hypoglycemia themselves. 

Warning: The Threshold Suspend feature will cause the pump to temporarily suspend insulin delivery for two hours when the sensor glucose reaches a set threshold. Under some conditions of use the pump can suspend again resulting in very limited insulin delivery. Prolonged suspension can increase the risk of serious hyperglycemia, ketosis, and ketoacidosis. Before using the Threshold Suspend feature, it is important to read the Threshold Suspend information in the MiniMed 530G System User Guide and discuss proper use of the Threshold Suspend feature with your healthcare provider. 

Please visit MedtronicDiabetes.com/isi for more details.

 

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Submitted by Diane New (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Im 66 years old and been a T1 for 36 years an on the pump but still wildly out of control I no longer respond to hi and low like I did years past my Dr. has made mult. requests to ins. for the sensor because my nites are terrible for my husband and I trying to stay on top of my blood sugar which causes more wild hi's and lows is there a magic way to get my ins. to realize how badly this is needed thank you for a listening ear Diane

Hi Diane,

This may sound like old hat but being a highly active diabetic all my life (running, bicycling, weight lifting, biathlete I have had in the past bouts with sugars going haywire for weeks or months at a time and I've slowly migrated over to what I call a suedo mediterranean diet in which I stick with proteins and produce. No more canned and boxed goods-shop in the produce, deli & lean meat sections only! They have a consumer related shopping term for this but what I like to call it is the fresh and healthy perimeter. Keep your diet at the low end of your caloric intake and WATCH your portions. No not like when we were first diagnosed but certain,ky be aware of what is actually a typical helping for oatmeal versus how much will typically fill our big American bowls (a typical cereal bowl holds 3.5 servings!!). This diet and curbing down eating two hours before bedtime this can be the hardest and is sometimes broken...what can I say but has really helped me stay within range. A1C's 6.2, 6.4. And although the A1C doesn't typically tell the whole truth I keep a range calendar and spend about 5 to 6 out of seven days in range (no BG's over 150), not bad considering I was spending about that amount of my days OUT of range on a typical American diet. yes, our pumps allow us to be normal humans and eat and live but that said this is still a life sentence so this a great time to get super involved in a healthy lifestyle, and for me the meditteranean diet surely helped that. You don't have to go overboard but just start slowly removing all contained and starchy foods from your diet and adding greens to everything...yes, ever your oatmeal..this is what we as humans were meant to do.

Hi Diane (New..lol),

I too have had to pursuade my Insurance Provider what was in both my and their best interest (they weren't going to allow me 100 extra test strips per order) they didn't believe I tested 6-8 times a day. I simply asked the person in customer service what department and who I would need to talk to to get this resolved. Keep asking until you get someone who listens. Then let them know your circumstances and what this may cost them in the long run (dialysis, optometrists, neuropathy, etc-that worked for me) versus what little this will cost them in the short run. They like math formulas that work in their favor. they pay actuaries lots of money to do this on a daily basis for them. They just need more information, seems they do a lot of work with diagnosis, typical and most widely used (and cheapest who are we kidding) treatments, and typical cost formulas so whenever something new, cutting edge or not as widely seen is introduced they just need more information. Always have your doctor ready to write them a quick note, I had my Endocrinologist do this in the past. Hope this helps! Good luck, we are all ambassadors for the cause!


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