The Screen as a Diabetes Management Tool
This article, Tech Can Be a Boost to Teens' Diabetes Self-Management, crossed my twitter feed this week. It lists five specific technologies used by kids with diabetes: social networks, texting, mobile diabetes apps, diabetes-focused websites and pump or meter software. Our household's experience mirrors the positive results of technology on diabetes management found in the study.
The most used technology for management in our family is texting. I get texts from parties and visits to friends' houses. A mystery food has appeared- here's a picture and would I help guess the carbs? She knows she'll be tired when she gets home but wants us to remember to do site change since she's down to 8 units. She's low and has treated it but needs a virtual hug. She's awake the morning after the sleepover- I can enjoy my coffee in peace. Texting is a quick and inconspicuous way to ask me for advice, help and support.
We do a little less with software. When we get around to downloading the Dexcom, looking at those numbers together does help her buy into any changes we need to talk about making. She can see, for example, the daily spike after breakfast and (at least for a few days) will be more likely to bolus before starting to make breakfast instead of as the food is entering her mouth. This calendar year will bring 'Dexcom Share' to our family's cell phones, which I imagine will also increase awareness and communication.
Social media is, to me, the most interesting tool. It's where the intangible boost comes from. My daughter will share memes with me from accounts she follows on Instagram. I'll send along blog posts or let her read funny tweets I come across. She's not learning any specific treatment tips from her Instagram feed. Instead, she's getting support, encouragement and a sense of community. She's able to see that there's a whole world of people out there living well with the wins and losses, laughter and tears, and the endless daily grind of diabetes.
Being able to text me questions allows for better blood sugar control even with increased independence. Being able to visualize blood sugar trends allows us to work together to attempt to improve them. But knowing that there are all those people out there who have so many of the same diabetes-related experiences she does? That might be the most important boost to self-management: a healthy perspective on the whole mess.