Review: MedAngel Insulin Temperature Sensor

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Amin from a company called MedAngel. Having lived with type 1 diabetes for ten years, he began to tell me about an incident where his refrigerator completely froze his supply of insulin. From there, he created a solution to his problem in the form of the MedAngel temperature sensor.

(Disclosure: I received a MedAngel One to try. There was no expectation that I would blog about the product, and all opinions expressed here are my own).

The MedAngel consists of a small oval shaped temperature sensor, which is stored in the same place as my insulin. The sensor then connects to an app on my smartphone, and transmits the temperature of my insulin via a Bluetooth connection. 

I must admit that I couldn’t muster too much enthusiasm for the MedAngel, initially. It sounded a little…unnecessary. Honestly, I didn’t think that I needed it.

I know that insulin needs to be refrigerated when it’s not in use. It’s good for 28 days once taken out of the fridge, and should then be disposed of. I’ve often stretched out post-holiday supplies beyond that timeframe, feeling guilty to waste something that’s so expensive. However, I guess I’ve never really given too much thought to what that exact storage temperature should be.

I first learned the concept of “spoiled insulin” last year, when my levels became seemingly impossible to tame. I’m also really conscious of temperature every time I go to the beach on a blazing hot day. But do I give a lot of thought towards the safe storage of my insulin day to day? Probably not.

Two weekends ago, I put my MedAngel to the test. I placed my sensor in the bar fridge with my insulin, and connected it via Bluetooth to the MedAngel app on my iPhone. There was a list of medications to choose from, and I was easily able to find both my Novorapid Penfill cartridges and Lantus pens. I told the app that I was “Storing” unopened medication, and I was good to go.

Soon enough, the app began alerting me that the insulin in my fridge was below the safe storage temperature of 2-8 degrees. 

I spent the rest of that weekend cautiously adjusting the temperature in my fridge. When I started out, the temperature dial in my fridge was sitting inbetween “Colder” and “Midpoint.” By the time my fridge had reached a safe storage temperature, the dial was sitting inbeweeen “Midpoint” and “Warmer.”

While I suspected that I might have to make my fridge a bit colder, I was hardly expecting the complete opposite. I couldn’t believe that my insulin had been sitting at borderline freezing point for all this time.

My only negative is that I had to be in the same room as the sensor, in order to receive the temperature via Bluetooth. There was also no ability for me to manually “refresh” to obtain a new reading, but that’s just me being impatient…

The results really did speak for themselves. It was a lower trafficked fridge, and it was a really cold weekend. But still…the results were eye opening.

This is a really, really amazing product.

If you think this issue doesn’t affect you, then you need to try this product.

The MedAngel is available online, and it ships worldwide.

For those of you in Australia, MedAngel is also available through One and 2 Diabetes Accessories.

From Uni Procrastination, to a Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

Monday, May 3 2010

It was the first week of May 2010. A warm May, from memory. My head was buried in uni assignments and a part time job, with my 18th birthday looming just a few weeks away. 

In an attempt to make some kind of headway with those assignments, I decided to skip uni for a few days. I was never the kind of person who could smash out a 2,000 word paper the night before it was due. There were at least three or four separate papers I had to write, each in need of ten credible journal references. This meant hours and hours of reading through painfully long and boring PDF documents. I needed all the time I could give myself, because I knew I would be working later in the week.

Being left to my own devices in an empty house was a recipe for procrastination. Over the course of three days there were many Facebook sessions, browsing breaks, and heading to the kitchen for a drink. In fact, the latter seemed to be happening more often than I was normally inclined. A glass of soft drink was over no sooner than I had poured the glass. Even plain water, which I found unpalatable, was tempting. 

Try as I might, I just couldn’t seem to find the energy to focus on those papers I had to write. I felt rather tired and lousy. Rightfully so, given I had just wasted away three whole days doing next to nothing.

Thursday, May 6 2010

I really didn’t want to get out of bed. My mouth was ever so dry, and I felt really lethargic. Feeling the shame of a very unproductive three days, I forced myself up out of bed. Thinking I had to snap out of my rut, I prepared a super healthy lunch to take to work. A salad sandwich, Ski yoghurt and carrot sticks.

The energy to remain standing on my own two feet at work that day was lacking. I might have lasted half an hour, at best, before I gave in and went home.

I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to drive myself home. Although tempted to call Mum and Dad, I knew they were out and didn’t want to interrupt their errand. It took every last ounce of my energy to drive myself back home. No sooner than I had walked through the door, I collapsed onto the couch and buried myself under the comfort of a blanket.

When my parents arrived home, I told them that I wanted to go see a doctor. Mum relayed to me that the earliest available appointment to see our family doctor was Saturday, and I knew I simply couldn’t wait until then. 

We visited a medical centre later that morning. After explaining my symptoms of exhaustion and excessive thirst, the doctor sent me home requesting bed rest and hot fluids for three days.

I spent the next three days in bed, which speaks volumes for me. Never in my life had I stayed in bed when I was unwell. Sick days were often spent eating Mum’s chicken noodle soup, reading a book or watching the midday movie surrounded by tissues. 

My mouth was now stripped of all of it’s saliva. I was struggling to find any food even remotely appealing, much to Mum’s distress (eat something!). I questioned my diet and lack of interest in physical activity, truly under the belief that these symptoms were of my own doing.

Sunday, May 9 2010

It was very early on a Sunday morning. Mothers Day, to be exact. I was restless, and had gravitated from my now uncomfortable bed to the living room couch. Ice cold, refreshing drinks were now a craving. These cravings were becoming insatiable, and more frequent. I was struggling to pass the mere minutes in between refreshing glasses of ice cold Orange Juice on the rocks.

In the kitchen, I was frantically trying to get ice cubes out of the tray and into the Snow Cone machine. I was onto my third or fourth orange juice granita when my rumblings in the kitchen got Mum out of bed.

“What are you doing? The doctor told you to have hot drinks!”

My heart rate was becoming more rapid by the minute, and I was going to the toilet at least once every hour. A bout of nausea finally made me feel slightly better, and got me settled that night.

When I woke up a few hours later, I was panting. My heart rate was extremely rapid and I felt breathless. I was still extremely thirsty and exhausted, and going to the toilet every hour. I told Mum and Dad how I felt, just waiting for them to suggest what I was thinking.

No sooner than Dad had started talking about going to a doctor, I shot it down. I knew that it would be pointless, and that I couldn’t hold out for that long. My mind was made up. I had to go to hospital.

The car ride was a blur. I was panting the whole time, eagerly staring out the window the way Scruffy does on the way to the park. I had no idea what was wrong with me, or if I would ever have my salivary glands restored. Honestly, then and there, I wasn’t even sure that I would survive this.

Soon enough, I would learn that my pancreas had stopped producing insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, through no fault of my own. I would become dependent on insulin injections and frequent blood glucose monitoring with finger sticks for the rest of my life.

I was diagnosed with a condition called type 1 diabetes, the minute I walked through the emergency room door.

It’s National Diabetes Week here in Australia, and the reality is that many individuals and healthcare professionals aren’t aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Case in point. Had these symptoms been properly diagnosed when I first visited the doctor, my hospital admission may well have been avoided. I’m sharing this story today, with the hope that it might stop another person from going through the same ordeal as me.

VLOG: It’s About Time!

Happy National Diabetes Week, Australia!

This year’s theme is “It’s About Time,” which coincidentally ties in with how long overdue I am for another vlog.

I think it’s great that we are focussing on earlier detection of diabetes, and the theme certainly resonates with me. However I’m still not wrapped with the heavy focus on all the bad things that could happen.

Take it away, Frank…

You can also check out Diabetes Australia’s video which I mentioned somewhere in my ramblings here.

Of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

Type 1, Turning 18 and Finding Peer Support

I was lucky enough to be featured on the very awesome Diabetes Mine over the weekend, if you haven’t already caught up. I’d like to think my article also serves as a timely awareness piece for Australian National Diabetes Week, which kicked off yesterday.

So, is it somewhat easier being diagnosed with diabetes as an adult? Or would you rather be diagnosed at a younger age, where you won’t know life any differently? It’s one of the age old debates within the diabetes community.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that there is an easier option. Every diagnosis, at every stage of life, is uniquely challenging. While I’m certainly grateful for my adolescent years that were free from diabetes, receiving a type 1 diagnosis as a young adult presented it’s own set of challenges. Herein lies my story.

“I’m one of the privileged few who joined the “diagnosed-a-few-weeks-before-turning-18 club,” in terms of living with type 1. That was in 2010, and I was in the midst of a big transitional change in my life: had newfound independence, was midway into my first semester at university, was enthusiastically working my first real job, and driving around in my first car. There was a lot going on at the time, and when that T1 diagnosis came along, I don’t remember actually processing the meaning of my new illness all that much right away.

Needless to say, being diagnosed with T1D as a young adult presented a unique set of challenges.

For starters, nobody knew that I had diabetes. I didn’t grow up with it, didn’t go through school with it, and it wasn’t simply there for the world to see. I didn’t know life any other way, and went from carelessy eating potato crisps after school to having to think about what they would do to my blood sugar.”

You can check out the full article over at Diabetes Mine here, to help tide you through your Monday-itis. 

I know I’m going to need an extra coffee today…

Another Indescribable Feeling

The sky was grey. The air was chill. The winds were howling. The rain had been falling, intermittently. It must have been the coldest day of the year. I was sitting in front of the TV, whilst keeping an eye on the clock.

I got up at around 2.20pm, and checked my blood sugar. I opened my wardrobe, before deciding against it. They had told me 3 o’clock, after all. I sat back down, anxiously awaiting the clock to shift closer to three.

I wondered where I might find myself today.

I had looked at my average blood sugar in the Diasend report over the weekend, and had loosely translated that to an a1c. That average blood sugar was actually quite a good looking number, yet I still couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed in it. I began thinking through some of the problem spots I’d encountered in recent weeks, and where I could have done better.

What if you hadn’t been so lazy and kept putting off your work day morning basal test?

What if you’d been a bit more diligent with your snacking when you get home in the afternoons?

What if your overnight numbers had been a little more consistent than they have been?

Part of me had tried to talk myself out of getting an a1c done until I could get that average looking a bit better. Thankfully, the rational side of me won out.

As the clock approached closer to three, I got changed, jumped in my car and headed down the road to collect my Pathology reports. I mentally prepared myself for what I might find. I knew I would see a decent a1c result. I knew that it would be better than my last one in January. But I wasn’t expecting anything life changing.

I got out of my car, walked up the stairs and tapped on the window of the demountable ‘D’ block, peering sideways to see if anyone was in there.

I stood there, feverishly, as the nurse looked my name up on the computer to see if all of my labwork had been done. She printed my results out, placed them in an envelope and sealed it with a slice of tape.

I thanked her and stepped back out into the blustery, grey carpark. I ripped open the envelope, mentally prepared to flick through each of the five sheets in there – but there was no need. The number was there, on the first page, staring me in the face.

That number was better than anything I was expecting. I had chalked up a new personal best. My face exploded into this massive grin, and my right arm shot up into the air in victory.

It was more than just seeing that number on the piece of paper. It was about all of that hard work I had put in. The hard work, that up until now, I hadn’t given myself a lot of credit for. 

Even though I was rewarded with a very attractive number yesterday, my self worth as someone with diabetes shouldn’t be tied to one. 

I need to be kinder to myself. I need to give myself a pat on the back for the things I am doing well. I need to stop beating myself up over the things aren’t working so much, because I can always work on it tomorrow.

For the next few days at least, I think I’ll have a hard time wiping that grin off my face.