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Why This Diabetic Isn’t Concerned About Her Insulin Pump Being Hacked

Jay Radcliffe is a fellow type 1 diabetic, and I remember reading his diabetes blog way back in the day, when I first started blogging.  We read and commented on each other’s posts, and we were both part of the blogosphere when the DOC first started to grow.  I knew he was married, had children, and did the day-to-day diabetes stuff that I did.

Which is why when I read the mainstream media’s take on his pump-hacking research (this article, Insulin Pumps Vulnerable to Hacking, for example), I reached out to him immediately.  “Can I just tell you that my mother sent me this article about your research?  Do you have time to talk?”

Jay was out in Las Vegas this morning, attending the Black Hat security conference, but he and I had a chance to hash it out over the phone.

“I know you!  And I know you as a diabetic, not as this guy who hacks insulin pumps and has a billion articles floating around about it on the web right now.  I have a few questions.  Starting with, why did you decide to hack into your own insulin pump?”
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*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

10 Ways Life Tries To Mess With Diabetes Control

Life is trying to further mess with my diabetes control. (Or is diabetes trying to mess with life? Is a zebra white with black stripes, or a horse with black and white stripes?) I’m making efforts to get it together, but odd little things keep leaping in the way. Oh, efforts to thwart: Let me count the ways!

1. Recently, the jar of glucose tabs in my car was empty, so I was forced to stop at a random store and buy a regular Mountain Dew from the vending machine. But I had to open it and let it settle a little first before I could chug it, because draining a can of fizzy sugar would make me instantly ralph.

2. It snowed and/or was freezing on the days I went to the gym. But on the days I didn’t go? Sunshine and warm weather. Stupid weather wants me to be fat.

3. I lost my Dexcom receiver for about five hours, until I heard its muffled scream from between the couch cushions.

4. The sound of the clothes dryer finishing a load sounds like the happy tinkling of the chimes on an ice cream van, which spawns this borderline insatiable craving for ice cream.

5. During my meetings last week with PWoutD (people withOUT diabetes), my blood sugar cruised inexplicably into the stratosphere, forcing me to rage bolus in order to be able to eat more than the plate garnish during lunch. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

I See Pump People

A few weeks ago, Chris and BSparl and I went out to dinner. Dining out with our little bird is a bit of a tangled experience, and we don’t spend as much time people watching as we used to because we’re very preoccupied with the baby wrangling. 

That night, though, we were sitting and settled and throwing gluten-free puffs (yes, all of us) around the dinner table like confetti when I saw this woman walk in with her family. She settled her family in at the table, and then reached to remove her coat, revealing a beeper clipped to her pocket.

Only it was one of them fancypants beepers with the tubes and the buttons and the accompanying not-making-insulin pancreas. I reckon it was an insulin pump.

Immediately, I wanted to swing mine over my head like a lasso and say “OMG lady, me too!!!” I’ve had this feeling before, of wanting to sidle up next to someone and say, “I like your pump — want to see my pump?” but to me that sounds more like an awkward attempt to flirt instead of a moment of diabetes bonding. Living in a very comfortable bubble of diabetes advocacy makes me think that everyone who has a visible “symptom” of diabetes wants to talk about it. I have to remind myself that some people just plain don’t want to talk about it.

But since I still wanted to say something, I targeted Chris instead. “Dude, 12 o’clock. Actually, my 12 o’clock, your six o’clock. MiniMed pump on that lady.” I said to Chris without moving my lips, as if a pump sighting was a covert Navy Seals operation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Feeling Pretty Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving here in the States, and I’m feeling pretty thankful. While the day is reserved for turning hand tracings into turkeys, it’s also a good day to highlight what I’m thankful for this year:

I’m thankful that we have a backyard that the cats can go [potty] in, because I was tired of cleaning that litterbox. (And I’m also secretly glad that our neighbors have a ridiculous cat that comes over and starts trouble with ours, because when they pile into the bushes out back and cause the shrubbery to vibrate with their Andy Capp-style battles, it cracks me right up.)

I’m thankful for our family and friends, who have helped Chris and I adjust to our new lives as “parents” and who make “home” a place that matters. We’re so glad to be sharing this chapter of our lives with the people and in the places we love the most.

I’m thankful for having good enough health to take it for granted, and to actually have the luxury of feeling frustrated when I’m “sick” because it’s such a foreign concept.

I’m thankful for the wonderful work opportunities that have come up in the last few years, specifically for the companies and organizations that have embraced the voices of patient advocacy and who have decided to become part of the conversation.

I’m thankful I have an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor that can help me make sense of the holiday meals. Also known as: ”Pie? Yes, please.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Diabetes Criminals And Diabetes Police

At TCOYD [Taking Control Of Your Diabetes], one of the sessions I attended was about Diabetes Police (Healthcare Providers) and Diabetes Criminals (People With Diabetes). And I was a little taken aback by the title of the session, but we used it to our advantage when we walked into the session a few minutes after it had already started.

“Okay, we see a few late stragglers in here. It’s not like they had to be on time or anything,” Dr. Edelman quipped from the front of the room, giving us a smirk.  

“I’m sorry we’re late. But what do you expect? We’re the criminals, man!” I shot back at him. And the crew of us “criminals” took up the last few rows, our smartphones at the ready to Tweet out the best of the session. (We were the total nerd row.

The charismatic team of Dr. Bill Polansky and Dr. Steve Edelman were running this session, and it was packed with both PWDs [people with diabetes], caregivers, and medical professionals. Bill and Steve took to the white board, asking first for complaints that PWDs have about healthcare providers. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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