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Real Talk with Dave: All about the Dexcom G6

Many people have been eagerly waiting for the Dexcom G6 to be announced.

Well, it just so happens that it is now FDA approved and available in June. I had the special privilege of being sent a Dexcom G6 to try out and so far, I am loving it. As promised, I wanted to share my open and honest opinion about this device, so I thought what better way to share my thoughts than through a blog.

First and foremost, I want to say how incredible this device is. I had the opportunity to see a mock-up of the device at the JDRF Type One Nation Summit and was even more excited to use this new product! The whole site and transmitter is about 33% thinner than the Dexcom G5. It is much more user friendly and has a longer wear time than the G5. You can now wear your site and get continuous glucose readings for 10 full days before you have to change out your site. You can also view your blood sugar readings on your phone, watch, and receiver that comes with the device.

One really exciting feature is that the Dexcom G6 does not require any fingerstick calibrations, which means you no longer have to prick your fingers for a manual blood sugar check anymore. You can now fully depend on this device to be even more accurate than before and allow you to have even more freedom in knowing what your blood sugars are. I have been wearing the Dexcom G6 for about a week now and have been comparing the G6 to the G5. For the first few days, I was wearing both CGMs just out of curiosity on how much more accurate the G6 really is. From what I observed, the G6 was way more accurate in comparison to the G5. I also would still check my blood sugars manually just to compare the numbers and my Dexcom was very close to the actual reading. It is intended to be 20 points above or below the actual reading, which it has been.

The device also has a new app in which there is a whole new design (similar to that of the G5, only better), and there are now more options for alerts and settings in which you can customize to your liking. Now, when having a low blood sugar, this device will alert you 20 minutes before a predicted severe low of 55 mg/dL, which I think is amazing that it can detect that for you. It truly does give peace of mind in knowing what to expect and when, giving you alerts ahead of time so you can try and prevent a bad low before it hits you.

The part of this device that I cannot praise enough is the insertion. Before, you would have to plunge a big needle into your skin and then remove it, leaving a plastic cannula deep into your skin. Now, all you do is apply to device to your skin, push a button, and within seconds, the device is in your body! When people ask me what it feels like to insert the G6, I like to describe it as “a puff of air hitting your skin, that’s it!”. The first (and only) time I inserted my CGM, I was blown away at how painless it truly was. This is going to be a huge game changer for children who have to wear a CGM as they will not feel a thing when the time comes to insert the device into their skin.

All in all, this device is great. I am obsessed at how this product works and helps me feel as a Type 1 Diabetic. It definitely allows me to live my life and not worry as much as I truly can trust what my readings are and know what is going on inside of my body. If medical technology is this good now, I am even more excited as to what the future holds for Type 1 Diabetes. With the Dexcom G6, Diabetes is not all bad.

Live well,

Dave

Real Talk with Dave: Tips and Tricks on Making Peace with your Diabetes

All Diabetics know how difficult it can be to find a common ground with their Diabetes daily, between the highs, the lows, the fears, and the pain, however, at some point, this can lead to a burn-out phase in our Diabetic lives, making it much harder to keep on moving forward. At the start of the new year, I have almost gained a new mindset for my Diabetes in which I am a bit more relaxed, knowing that it will all be okay in the end, that is why I want to share some of my own personal tips and tricks on how I manage my Diabetic stress & anxiety in the best way possible.

Over the past 9 years of living with T1D, I have come to realized that Diabetes is a really hard thing to go through in life, but finding ways to cope with your Diabetes as much as possible can be so rewarding in the long run! Don’t do Diabetes alone. Find a group of people to lift you up and motivate you to keep up the hard work you do! Diabetes is already a stressful thing to deal with, that is why these three helpful tips I use daily may help in finding a light at the end of the Diabetic tunnel:

1) Plan ahead – When out and about with T1D, many times you may not want to even think about Diabetes and don’t want it to get in the way of your outing, no matter where you are headed, however, always being prepared for the worst is the best way to avoid any unwanted stress, as T1D is a serious disease that needs to be treated and cared for 24/7. Just imagine how it would feel to be an hour or more away from your house, all to realize you forgot your Insulin at home… and your blood sugar is high (that wouldn’t be fun). In that case, I definitely recommend making a checklist (yes, an actual list) where you list all the necessary items that have top priority in managing your Diabetes on any outing, whether at school, work, and especially on a vacation. Each time you plan on going somewhere, be sure to check off the list prior to your outing and make sure you have all you need, and maybe even some extra supplies, all packed in a designated pouch or bag in which you can transport quickly on your way out. Better to be over prepared and over packed than the other way around.

2) Self-talk – One thing that I still struggle with is being in a constant fear of going low or excessively high when I am in a space (such as school) in which I cannot get out of very easily or am surrounded by many others who may not be aware of my T1D. In cases like these, I feel as though it is strictly up to me to take care of myself and make sure I am okay at all times, but, as we all know, Diabetes is an unpredictable disease. We all wish to never have lows or highs at certain times, but they can honestly happen whenever, wherever. In that case, let it be. If you go low, treat. If you go high, treat. Yes, you may have a bit of anxiety in having to deal with that all alone sometimes, but it is more important that you treat and take care of yourself, rather than the horrible outcomes of a severe high or low. The theory of self-talk comes into place by you having to mentally think to yourself that everything is going to be just fine. Think how you’ve been low and high before and made it out just fine each time, some were more difficult than others, but somehow, you managed to survive it… and like a pro!

3) Finding a support system – Most of the work I do in the Diabetic community is done via Instagram, @type1livabetic, where I try and encourage other T1D’s to look at life in a positive light and make life any way they want, regardless of their Diabetes. I didn’t always have that intention though. During my first few years as a Diabetic, I didn’t fully feel motivated or see the positive side to Diabetes as I do now. How did I overcome that? Well, I began to find other Diabetics via social media and just…talk! I began to connect with them and start talking with others on the true daily struggles we face and the feeling of connecting with someone who simply understands EVERYTHING you are feeling is indescribable. I found my support group online, but there are many other ways to do so. There are many in-person support groups at local hospitals, nowadays, a new trend is hosting a Diabetic meet-up, and simply attending a local Diabetic organization research walk or event can be life-changing and memorable.

In short, if you want to find peace with your Diabetes, give these three tips a try! Always have your medical supplies (and a backup plan) ready and with you in an accessible manner at all times, remember to think only good thoughts to yourself, especially in the hardest times, and find a group of people that you can be 100% yourself around, Diabetic and all, and hang on for the ride, because Diabetes is a huge roller coaster with many ups and downs. Find what brings you peace with your Diabetes and go with it!

Live well,

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyfebulb’s End of Summer Drinks!

Last Thursday we enjoyed an evening of Champagne, courtesy of Prestige des Sacres, cocktails made with be-mixed mixers, cookies to go from KNOW foods, and of course some wonderful food, service, and the prime location of a Lyfebulb favorite, Brasserie Ruhlmann.

We want to thank everyone who came out and showed what an incredibly strong community we are proud to be a part of. Our goal is always to improve the quality of life of those living with chronic illness in general, and type 1 diabetes in particular.

We hope that you will consider making a donation to the Lyfebulb Foundation to help fund future gatherings such as last week’s and to support patient entrepreneurship. Together we can make a difference in the lives of patients everywhere!

Going For Gold

Gary Hall Jr. is a three time Olympic swimmer out of Phoenix, Arizona by way of Cincinnati, Ohio. A product of a strong swimming lineage, his father Gary Hall Sr., uncle Charles Keating Ill, and maternal grandfather, Charles Keating Jr., all have competed and won medals in previous Olympic games.

Hall Jr. himself competed in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games, winning a total of 10 medals. At only 21 years of age in the 1996 Olympics, he won two individual silver medals and two team relay golds, including helping set the world record in both the 400 meter freestyle and medley relays. Hall won 2 gold medals in the both individual and relay events in the 2000 Olympics and an additional gold in the 50 meter freestyle in 2004.

Although highly decorated, Greg Hall Jr. had to overcome being diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes Mellitus in 1999 before the 2000 Olympics. He faced a decision whether or not to give up swimming entirely.

I spoke with Gary about that tumultuous time in his career.

Hall was diagnosed in march of 1999, after we underwent the very typical stages of grief and shock he says he remembers there being few diabetic athlete standouts at the time. Most importantly, there were certainly no Olympic athletes.

Two separate doctors told Hall that his diagnosis would mean the end of his career. They told him the strenuous Eight or more hours he would have to spend practicing in the pool would be too great a risk for someone having to regulate their blood glucose levels with insulin injections.

Unsatisfied with this news, the determined Hall eventually sought the advice of Dr. Anne Peters, who he credits most for her encouragement to not give up early on. The UCLA (now USC) endocrinologist and her team worked closely with Hall to utilize his strict workouts positively to control his sugars, rather than as an obstacle. Gary Hall credits Dr. Peter immensely for helping him find a routine that ultimately allowed him to continue competitive swimming at the highest level.

When he returned to swimming competitively, he broke the world record in the men’s 50-meter freestyle race with a time of 21.76 seconds at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Most diabetics are instructed to regulate their diets and control their blood sugars with multiple insulin shots delivered through syringes and pens. Insulin pumps offer a lot of flexibility with the amount of insulin that can be delivered over specific periods of time, but can be burdensome, as they must remain attached to the body. Choosing which method of insulin delivery can be challenging, especially for a world-class competing athlete.

Hall noted that he alternated back and forth between wearing a pump and taking multiple injections as he trained for the Olympics Hall attempted unsuccessfully to wear an Omnipod pump in the water for training and meets as he adjusted to swimming as a diabetic. Unplugging his pump and no longer receiving basal insulin, his blood glucose levels would shoot up hundreds of points after a training session. Here he was competing in a sport where swimmers shave off their body hairs in attempts to gain an edge and facilitate speed. Hall on the hand was wearing injection sites for his pump that would fly off his body, forcing him to try such extreme measures and using duct tape to adhere the sites to his skin in the water. He settled finally on multiple injections for competition.

The daily activities of an athlete are so regimented; it’s nearly catastrophic when there are disruptions. Unfortunately, diabetic athletes are all too familiar with challenges which may disrupt their routines. When I asked Gary Hall what his biggest challenges were, he responded with his beliefs about the lack of resources for diabetic athletes on topics such as: post workout spikes, competition adrenaline spikes, and the differences in blood sugar management between anaerobic and aerobic workouts.

The best way to combat these challenges is to maintain a stringent routine of the same activities before competition. I am well aware that diabetic and non-diabetic athletes alike will follow a particular routine that works for them like a bible. I asked Gary to share with me his routine for the day leading up to a big race:

  • Gary claimed he would test his blood sugar 20-25 times a day.
  • He would carry his blood glucose meter with him at all times all the way up to the Ready-Room before a particular race (A small room near the pool where only competing athletes were allowed 5-10 minutes before each race)
  • After the race he would test again, his blood sugar typically had shot up, sometimes up to 300 points
  • He would then proceed to giving himself a bolus of insulin to get his blood sugar back down to a comfortable level (below 200) before it was time for his heat to participate in the next race

Despite all the precautions we take, diabetic athletes can still fall victim to complications related to their blood sugars. “Going Low” or experiencing hypoglycemia is a condition where blood glucose levels are too low. The body usually undergoes symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, and an elevated heart rate. If not treated, hypoglycemia’s can lead to seizure, coma, or death. Surprisingly, most diabetic athletes or far more concerned with not being able to compete than they are about their own safety.

Gary Hall recalls a hypoglycemic episode at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Australia. He remembered testing throughout the day, but approximately 15 minutes prior to the race, he checked his blood sugar (BS) on his meter and it read 60 mg/dl (anything under 80 is considered low and exercising at a two digit BS is not recommended). He quickly grabbed and drank a sports drink and waiting a few minutes before checking again. After the second reading he realized his blood sugar had actually dropped even more, and it was officially time to panic. He chugged down another sponsored sports drink in the ready room and grabbed a third on the way to the actual race. Holding his third sports drink during swimmer introductions, he gulped it down on the starting blocks legitimately moments before the sound of the gun. With a belly sloshing full of sugary hydrate, he started the race, but unfortunately vomited underwater at the 35 meter mark. Gary Hall Jr. solidified his cult hero status as he completed this task on national television, but still finished second in the race.

Hall admits his biggest fears related to going low include the serious risk of having a Seizure in the pool and drowning, but also the soul-crushing possibility of potentially having to stop what you love to do.  

On a more positive note, I asked Hall what he appreciated about his experiences participating in the Olympics as a diabetic athlete:

“I could not have imagined the level of support from the T1D community. I received letters of support from all over, motivating me to train harder.”

Hall continued to say his greatest accomplishments were being able to represent the USA and win on the greatest stage, and representing the entire diabetic population worldwide.

In November of 2008, Gary Hall Jr. retired from competition. Since retirement, Hall has been extremely involved in health initiatives related to diabetes and Type-2 diabetes prevention.

Alongside groups such as the Aspen Institute, the Clinton Foundation, the American college of sports medicine, and the T1D Exchange, Gary Hall works tirelessly with policymakers to improve the lives of Americans looking to take control of their health.

Hall is currently promoting “Project Play”, an initiative looking to increase youth access to physical activity and sport. Hall has testified before Congress and believes that when it comes to insurance, discounts that currently exist for corporate gym memberships and safe driving should be extended to children and families who consistently engage in physical activity and sport. He believes American children and families should be rewarded when they proactively protect themselves against obesity and Type-2 Diabetes.

When I asked him how he envisions the rest of us as citizens can help aid the cause, he replied that we should all be advocates. Anyone touched by diabetes in any way should open up and speak about the challenges he or she faces. He recalls that legislation back around the time of his diagnosis would not have allowed him to buy health insurance, despite being able to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Hall doesn’t believe in us as diabetics settling with the rules as they currently exist, and moving forward would like diabetics to have the ability to join the military. Overall, he preaches that more people should get involved.

I too agree more should be done, especially for those willing to work for their health and well being. I think we should all follow Gary Hall’s lead and take it upon each and every one of ourselves to promote initiatives beneficial to our cause.

When asked what other famous athletes or celebrities might’ve inspired Hall throughout his career, he chuckled and replied simply: “The people who touched me most weren’t world champions, they were ordinary folks doing what they loved, who wouldn’t be denied” In august of 2004, a 13-year-old version of myself sat and watched Gary Hall win the gold after a television segment explaining what he had gone through as a diabetic athlete aired. About a month later that boy would receive the news from his doctor that he too was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. After recovering from the initial shock, he remembered Gary Hall Jr., and found comfort in knowing that he too could achieve his highest athletic dreams.

I will always be grateful for the inspiration given to me that year from Gary Hall, his performance encouraged diabetics and athletes across the world not to allow any shortcomings to stand in your way to greatness.

For more updates and tips on how to use fitness for diabetes management and prevention. Follow me on twitter @roycHealth !

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