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1st Person: Small Steps: Adapting to New Technology for Better Health


Joan Reder, a person with diabetes, spends her days working as a medical transcriptionist, so you might assume she'd be pretty comfortable with anything involving medicine. But recently, the 59 year-old was faced with the daunting prospect of converting from her familiar daily insulin injections to an insulin pump, which would continuously monitor her blood glucose and deliver insulin to her body when needed.

It's not that she hadn't made changes in care routines before.

I've had type 1 diabetes for 35 years and back then they didn't have pumps and they didn't even have glucose meters. You took one shot of insulin a day and you tested your urine with a dipstick. And even then it was not a current reading. It was four hours old.

Today, she regularly uses a glucose meter to test her blood, but the comparative complexity of a pump worried her. Not wanting to make the change alone or all at once, she made the jump with the help of a research study that gave her the opportunity to get special assistance.

The day I got the pump, I fell in love with it. I learned all the ins and outs, and I'm doing really well. The pump makes it easier to take insulin because you don't have to get a shot. The insulin goes through a tube you change that every three days. It's one needle in three days instead of 21 insulin shots in three days.

Making the move with a helping hand worked for her.

It absolutely changed my opinion about the pump and told me I was capable of using it.

She found success by talking to other people who are familiar with and use the same device, asking them for practical advice. Ask your clinician or diabetes educator whether they have any patients who'd be willing to share their experiences or suggestions for patient support groups.

They can talk about how to deal with exercise and how to wear it when you're wearing a dress. A person who's actually using it will be able to give you better advice.

The upshot of her willingness to try the insulin pump has been better levels of hemoglobin A1c, which diabetics often measure to see how well their glucose is controlled.

There's a lab test called the A1C that I would take every time before I'd see my endocrinologist. The ideal is 7 or below. The day I started on the pump, my A1C was 8.4. Three months later, it was 6.7'.


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1st Person posts spotlight a patient’s or caregiver’s health care experience.

Tags for this article:
Diabetes   First Person   Find Good Health Care   Lifestyle and Prevention  

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