Monday, April 2, 2012

Health Time Capsule

Day one of the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge, and I already messed up! I wrote another post yesterday but then realized the challenge comes with a writing prompt for each day (duh!) So this first post will be a day late and I'll catch up with a second post shortly.

I'd like to make a time capsule that would be opened n 2112 - 100 years from today.  I've already had type 1 diabetes for 32 years, and so much has changed during that time. For my capsule, I'd include one of the urine sugar tests that I started out with in 1980 - with the tubes to transfer urine into and the tablets that would turn blue if you were "good" and orange if you were "bad". I'd like to include my very first diet plan and food lists - it was all based on exchanges and very rigid. We were supposed to eat the same amount of food at the same time each day, and get the same amount of prescribed exercise at the same time each day to go along with our single, or maybe double injection of insulin for the day.

I wasn't very successful with this after about a year - my pancreas was still making a little insulin during that honeymoon phase, but after that things were hairy.

I'd like to include a tube of the first glucose strips we used to start testing real-time instead of using urine testing that would include some period of time and amount of sugar depending on your renal threshold. A major improvement.  Then my first glucose meter, in 1988 - it came in a case the size of a laptop case. The large insulated cases for carrying around your insulin - separately of course. Then perhaps a smaller meter and case, including insulin and syringes for comparison.  A collection of the variously freaky spring loaded lancing devices. A tube of lanolin.

How about some glucose tablets for hypoglycemia? Big square ones in blister packs, tubes of gel glucose, paper envelopes filled with 4 sugar cubes each (to make the recommended 16 grams of glucose to take at a time), and those I use now - tubes and jars of glucose disks that are sort of like big chalky Sweettarts.

I'd include some of the different log books I tried over the year. The 5 different cables to connect different meters to my old Mac and then PC to download glucose readings.  I'd include a few of my favorite books from over the years - the early management guidelines, "Diabetes is not a piece of cake", "Stop the Rollercoaster", "Pumping insulin", "Carbohydrate counting", many as would fit I suppose, and it wouldn't be all the books I've consulted over the years. I would also include a copy of the DCCT study paper - the one from the original publication. This is the basis for all the improved guidelines over the years - before it's publication in the 1990s, there wasn't a good understanding of the relationship between blood glucose control and complications.

As a snapshot from today, I'd include my pump, a couple of the infusion sets and the spring loaded inserter. I would also include my continuous glucose meter, one of the sensors and THAT spring loaded inserter. There is a lot of poking yourself with spring loaded sharp devices in this diabetes business. I'd include he Carelink device that talks to my pump and downloads all the data into a web-based analysis program. And lastly, the home HBA1C test that is recently available (again) for consumers to buy themselves. Glycosylated hemoglobin levels give you an idea how your overall control is for about a 2 month moving window of time.

In the time capsule, I'd include a letter describing the wonders of changing technology and how I've benefited from the new tools developed for diabetics over the years. I'd send my hopes for discovery of a way to prevent development of type 1 diabetes in people who are at risk and have developed autoantibodies. Lastly I would be hopeful for a cure - but at this point for me I have become an early adopter of new tools (I wasn't always).  Prevention rather than cure are how I would prioritize the current and future research. And I would sign off with the wish that I could see how much things changed in 100 years. Given how much things have improved for diabetics in a 3rd of a century, I am sure it things will be available that would blow my mind!

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