Without the New and Shiny.

All too often in the diabetes community, it feels like we must be using the latest tech and the shiniest tools in order to manage our diabetes well. Sure, I’m guilty of talking up the devices that I use. I love my insulin pump, and despite the extra work it entails it has definitely improved the quality of my life. Your diabetes may vary, of course. I am also extremely privileged to have health insurance that pays for the pump, and the capacity to pay for the heavily subsidised consumables here in Australia. Thank you, NDSS.

Sure, I’ve used FreeStyle Libre intermittently and love it. It was particularly helpful to me during my pump start, in nutting out a strategy around managing my blood glucose over the better part of three years, and also just for those times where I wanted a break (as recently as three weeks ago). But it was also unhelpful to my bank account balance and to my mindset after prolonged use. Today, I would probably class myself as someone who uses it for a specific purpose, applies that knowledge and then goes back to reality.

When it comes to blood glucose monitoring, It often feels like I must be doing something wrong because I’m not sporting a trendy sensor on my arm or having blood glucose readings drip fed to my wrist every minute of the day. Now this, on the other hand, is my idea of a real watch…

Company reps often seem to be in their own little world when they bang on about all of the blood glucose data that’s seemingly not available to someone not wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor. I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Contrary to the impression you may have of me, a blood glucose meter and lancing device are quite honestly still my primary method of monitoring my blood glucose. It is definitely possible to manage diabetes well with just those tools alone.

When you check your blood sugar as often as I do, you can still obtain a pretty nice picture of what your levels are doing throughout the day. I would typically check on waking, after breakfast, before morning tea, after morning tea, before lunch, after lunch, before my afternoon coffee, after my afternoon coffee, before dinner, after dinner, before bed and during the night if I stir. That’s 12 times through the day. I’d comfortably throw another three in there for good measure.

I don’t check my blood glucose levels so often because I’m a failure or anxious or non compliant or doing really poorly with my diabetes. I check my blood glucose that often because it gives me more information to base my diabetes management decisions off. It helps me to feel more grounded and accountable for what I am doing. It helps me to produce more numbers that are in my target range.

Many of the AccuChek and Contour meters today have Bluetooth capabilities, and will wirelessly send the data into their companion apps. These apps keep me motivated. They plot out things like average glucose, standard deviation in my readings, readings below and above my target range as well as a visual daily graph of my glucose trends. I’ve really come to appreciate these, particularly in the past couple of months.

Sure, it’s a pain having to stop and stab my finger 15 plus times per day. Double points if you’re like me handling cardboard boxes all day and have to stop and wash your grubby mits first. It’s a pain having to carry my glucose monitor and strips and lancet around in my pocket when I go for a short walk around the block, compared to simply carrying my iPhone. If I won lotto tomorrow, CGM or Flash are probably the first things I’d shell out on.

But until then, I know that it is absolutely possible for me to manage my diabetes just fine without all of the new and shiny. I know my bank account loves me for it, too…


  1. Cindy

    Well said Frank that’s how l roll. Sometimes l wish l could afford to use a freestyle live a more often but it’s just become a habit to test constantly. I enjoy the breaks when on a Life a but l am thankful for at least having an up to date monitor with subsidised strips.

  2. Christina

    Frank if you say you’re trying to fall pregnant, you can get a CGM for free for 12 months 😉 maybe just say your name is Frankie instead ;-P

  3. Kevin Pavy

    Well put Frank, that’s exactly what I do. It is a rip off industry and $100 a fortnight for an arm sensor adds up quickly.

  4. Tony Sangster

    We forget that the one essential thing to all diabetics is dietary management. Diet is undergoing a change which is highly relevant to TIDs IMO. And we can guess this because the rate of obesity in TIDs has increased despite more uptake of cgm and insulin pump use. Diet being so fundamental raises the question in my mind about this mantra of eat what you like and dose with insulin for it. Food unrestricted +insulin = risk of weight gain —> insulin resistance. Whether the problem to do with eating disorders or courses like DAFNE etc is unclear but the food industry’s influence on eating habits and processed foods is a part cause i allege. And let us not forget dietitians in Oz who for so long have been impelled by their registration body, DAA to prescribe hi carb diets. Why? Because DAA have been sponsored by food industry and have declined in the past to declare that obvious conflict of interest. If you doubt me read about one dietitian who was deregistered by DAA – ‘Jennifer Elliott vs DAA’. Food intake/diet is the most basic of diabetes treatments and the most abused.

  5. Rick Phillips

    Oh no, I need new and shiny. But I always fall for the shiny stuff. Ask my wife, she says I love the newest, even if it is the worst, if its new I am all over the new.

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