The Five Followers

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Texts-final

After wearing the Dexcom Share for a couple of days and getting used to seeing my own numbers on my phone, I thought, “Okay I’ll start inviting people to follow me and my blood sugar graph using the Dexcom ‘follow’ app on their Apple devices.” I sent an email to a few people and they quickly accepted. A week went by and I realized I was being hyper-vigilant about my numbers; according to the Dexcom Studio software my average dropped 20 points in 7 days! Awesome! Was this because people could stalk my ups and downs? I was actually okay with it. Week two was when I decided to really get serious and invite my mother to join—oh boy.

Here was her take:

Years ago when our daughter was diagnosed at 6 years old, my husband and I managed her diabetes care with 2 shots a day and 4 fingersticks. It was scary and stressful at first, but we quickly learned to follow trends and adjust doses. As she grew older and gradually learned about how she felt when low and high she began to take over her care. As a young adult and now completely managing her own care we have been unaware of her blood sugar numbers and patterns—when we see her she often is showing us her new technology and devices. Recently Anna signed me up to track her blood sugars and I have been following her highs and lows. My first thought was, “This is amazing and I wish I had had this when she was young.” Then the alarms came in the middle of the night and the anxiety I knew then had come back. Should I call and make sure she is treating the low? No, I said to myself—she is receiving the same notification. So now I just need to appreciate this new technology and know it has so many benefits to those who use it! Thank you, Dexcom!

And then there was my husband Andy…or not.

This past month of March has been particularly hard on my husband with his work schedule—Easter Sunday was his first day off since February 21! As an attorney with strict deadlines this spring, I knew he wouldn’t have the time to commit to have a phone go off in the middle of a case. Instead I asked another male friend who also has type 1 to follow me.

I lived in a world with no diabetes buddies. I was diagnosed in the mid ’70s. This was a time when we lived in relative isolation. How glad I am that the times have changed. The diabetes world is a small one. Dexcom Share has made that world even smaller and I mean that it all the best of terms. Following somebody who I consider a dear and important friend has only deepened our relationship. Not only do I follow her, but she follows me. At times, it is fun to compare where we are. At other times, it is a responsibility that I gladly take on to check on her to make sure that she is okay. Through text messages, we problem-solve, commiserate, support, and encourage. I really believe that this device has helped us to be even more proactive in our care and the decisions that we make. I can only hope that she feels similar to me.

My third follower: Michelle Weisenberg, mom of teen son:

Knowing that the teen years are hard enough (I struggled a lot myself), and then add diabetes on to the pile and it becomes a never-ending soap box. I know that moms and dads struggle when it comes to independence and learning to let go of diabetes care, so I thought I’d reach out to a friend who has a teenage son. Here is what she had to say:

I have been following Anna’s Dexcom through Share for two weeks now. At first I thought it would be a fun little experiment, but after a few days I found it became an all-consuming event. The app would alert me any time she went out of range, and I somehow felt compelled to contact her about it every time, even though I knew she was aware it was happening. After a while I turned the alerts off, because I started to get anxious about them.

For parents of infants and non-verbal toddlers, I think this is a great tool. But for older children with diabetes, having the Share might actually have a negative effect. If my stress levels increased just following an adult friend, imagine if I were a parent following my child! I think the ability for kids to learn to follow what their body is telling them might be greatly impeded by concerned phone calls or texts from parents any time their BG rises or lowers, before the kids have a chance to react to it on their own. I can also see people continually chasing highs and lows by correcting too soon before the body has a chance to do it on its own. Overall, I’d say that used sparingly, the Share could be a great tool, but there would definitely need to be some self-control taught to anxious parents!

My CrossFit coach Stephen:

One of the most challenging aspects of managing type 1 is managing exercise routines. I like to run, and do CrossFit five times a week. We all know diabetes interrupts us at all times of the day regardless of what’s on our immediate to-do list. Stephen at my CrossFit gym has always taken an interest in timing of eating and the science of exercise and food as it relates to performance, so he agreed to tag along, too!

For me I think it just made me so much more aware of HOW aware type 1s are regarding their blood glucose levels. I always knew that Anna had to monitor her blood sugars constantly, but watching it all day, seeing the spikes and crashes is really intense to think about through the eye of the patient. Seeing the graph trend up or down I thought—I wonder what she’s eating for lunch that made it go up? Later in the afternoon when I would talk to her at the gym we chatted about how she handled those ups and downs and how she felt. It’s really fascinating. It even made me want to wear one to see how my body reacts—especially surrounding a work out. Great tool!

And finally, Claire, a college student:

When I interviewed Kevin Sayer he suggested that children, adults living alone, or college students might be the most beneficial candidates for this tool. When I first asked some high schoolers to follow me I thought that this could be really awesome, maybe since I know adolescents and young adults tend to have higher A1cs than adults in general, this could maybe motivate them a little. The first two high school students said no—too many other things to worry about as a teen.

Claire, a junior in college, accepted the challenge and has been following me for the last 5 days.

It was awesome following Anna on her Dexcom Share because I can imagine as a college student how helpful that would be having a buddy who you follow and they follow you back because you can always be keeping an eye on their blood sugar without constantly asking them (which would also be nice for parents as well). But personally I just liked looking at it and seeing someone else who has diabetes and just reminding myself that not everyone is perfect, and you have your good and bad days no matter what, but it also made me think about checking myself more often just because of how well you’ve been doing this week since I’ve been following her! Just another awesome piece of technology for people with diabetes! I love it! 

Thanks to everyone for “following” my blood sugars. I truly do believe that having peer support and guidance in blood sugar management is crucial in managing diabetes and helping to achieve our individual goals.

Anna Floreen–GluAnna

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