« Lunch Hour Education. | Main | Silence: Seven Years. »

Diabetes For The Day: Third Edition.

I've said it before, but I must say it again:  my co-workers are a rare breed.  They are funny, brilliant, and they actually care about making a difference in the lives of people with diabetes.  Another co-worker took the Diabetes For The Day challenge, and wrote about what it was like to test all day and wear the newest version of the "faux pump."  (This one was a definite upgrade from the Kool-aid box of yester-post.  We used a Freestyle flash meter as "the pump" and taped an infusion set, sans needle, to the back of it.)  Here's her take on a day with diabetes.

Meter, with infusion set attached, serves as a pump for our experiment.

Kerri:  You wore a “pump” and tested your blood sugar throughout your day with diabetes.  How did you feel about these devices?

Co-Worker:  At first I thought it was kind of fun to know what my blood sugar was, but after maybe the second prick, the novelty wore off. It hurt and seeing my numbers go up and down freaked me out. The pump was a huge pain. At work it wasn’t embarrassing but outside of the office, I felt like everyone saw it and wondered about me.

Kerri:  You wore the pump all day and overnight.  Was it comfortable?  How was sleeping with something attached?  Showering?  Was it difficult to dress for?  Did you almost drop it into the toilet at any point?  ;)  

CW:  It was relatively comfortable, comfortable enough that I would forget about it until I caught the tube on something and felt the yank on my “infusion point”. I was nervous about sleeping with it since I don’t own pajama bottoms with pockets but I was able to tuck it under my pillow. I slept fine but woke up with the pump halfway across the bed. I wore pants with pockets the day I had my pump so I didn’t have to worry about where I would stick it. However, I wear a lot of dresses and I could see that being a big pain. I didn’t drop it in the toilet but only because I was paranoid that I would.

The infusion set, without the needle inserted.
My co-workers put up with a lot from me, and they even wear fake pumps to help them understand.

Kerri:  Did physical evidence of diabetes (i.e. wearing the pump) make you feel self-conscious?

CW:  At work, I felt normal, even proud of what I was doing. However, the second I left, I felt awkward, especially when a friend nearly pulled it out and I had to explain what it was and what I was doing. 

Kerri:  How did testing your blood sugar affect the way you thought about food?

CW:  It made me aware of how many carbs I eat and that it is probably contributing to the fact that my blood sugar was all over the place. It also made me less likely to snack because I wanted to avoid testing.  I remember thinking, "A piece of candy is already in my mouth before I think about testing. Did I just mess up? Man, this is annoying. Diabetes sucks."

Kerri:  Did you find the blood sugar testing to be painful?  How comfortable were you with the process?

CW:  After the first or second time, I started to really wince every time I had to test. The sharp pain only lasts a moment but it made my fingers sensitive and bruised. I felt pretty comfortable with the process because I’ve tested before and I’m not afraid of blood or needles.

Kerri:  How did the blood glucose numbers make you feel? Did any of your results make you raise an eyebrow?

CW:  My blood glucose numbers made me feel anxious. I was like a roller coaster, relatively high and then a few hours later, relatively low. If I hadn’t had Kerri around to reassure me, I would have freaked out.  After a bagel with cream cheese and an iced coffee with Splenda, two hours later I was at 141. I panicked. 141, that’s bad! (Right, except you have a pancreas, give it a second woman). Kerri assured me that I was fine. 

(Editor's note:  Her blood sugars hit highs of 140 mg/dl after a high carb lunch.  So "high" by her standards was a little different than my highs.)

Kerri:  Do you feel as though you have a better idea of what life with diabetes is like?  What else would you want to know?  What are you grateful for not knowing?

CW:  I still don’t think I have a clue what it must be like. I did it for one day. I didn’t change my diet, I didn’t have to take action when my numbers went out of their normal range. I can’t imagine having to test every day. Given that experience, I would rather not know any more.

Kerri:  Did this experiment make you appreciate your health any more?  Less?

CW:  It made me appreciate my health tremendously. That my body functions and regulates things on its own is a blessing most people don’t take notice of.

Kerri:  Do you think other people who are close to diabetes, but aren’t diabetic themselves, should spend a day as a diabetic?

CW:  I think everyone should.

Kerri:  Anything else you want to add?

CW:  Kerri is pretty awesome. (Editor's note:  YAY!)  And diabetes sucks.  (Editor again:  Word.)


Wow. You sure have some supportive co-workers. Reading this makes me want to get my friend to be a diabetic for a day.

I love that your friends/coworkers do this.

Would they ever consider taking an insulin bolus to force a low? That is one of the quintessential diabetic experiences, and one that I think would definitely drive it home for them.

Of course... they would have to be supervised and have some juice on hand.

(I have asked my endocrinologist about this, and she said it's safe)

hmm....i might be offering this idea up to some friends. i like it. i love reading these posts.

They are supportive. Keep in mind, though, that they work in a diabetes media company, so they are more tuned in that your average co-worker.

And AJ, I'd be interested in forcing a low, but I come from an insurance background and I cannot wrap my head around that kind of liability. If they wanted to do that under the supervision of a doctor, more power to them. But no way am I doing it for them. I'm not a doctor. I'm just a patient with a big mouth. ;)

That was awesome. I love the people you work with.

Such a great idea and a good experiment.

Love these posts Kerri!

Ashley and I were just discussing how much we would Love for some friends (and family too) to do this! What a difference it would make in their overall attitude towards us!

I would be in heaven if it stopped the looks and darn questions too! I think that may be a lot to ask of them tho.

Keep doing this and sharing! Thanks to you and your co-workers, more in-tuned or not, they are troopers for taking a go at it for a day!

At least twice per day they should have to wear thick eyeglasses to simulate lows and then have to hunt for a juice box.

And then at least once they should have to wear a giant heavy coat to simulate a high.

Nondiabetic "normal" is for a two-hour postprandial under 120 or 130 (depending on who you ask). This is the goal I work with on a daily basis. As a Type 2 controlled with diet and exercise, it is not an unreasonable goal (for me). The 141 would certainly throw me, except that you're probably talking about a six-ounce New York City bagel with three ounces of full-fat cream cheese and well, I do have diabetes.

If you also bear in mind that the numbers tossed around for impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes look at fasting blood glucose under 100 mg/dl (some standards will accept 110) and casual (nonfasting, not postprandial) blood glucose under 126, I can certainly understand why your co-worker got alarmed by that 141 reading.

Such a good idea! Between this and the pranks, I love your coworkers. Now off to figure out how to get mine to do something like that. :)

everyone should do these experiments with friends or family or whoever. great coworkers

What a great idea! I really should recommend it to my supervisor.
(What? It is 15 minutes to the break an you are testing and giving shots? Can’t you do this during breaks? — I have a delay, are what ever it is called in English, between shot and eating of 15 minutes minimum in the morning)
In my opinion, the hardest thing for non-diabetics it is not to be able to eat everything all the time. If I watch my colleges during the day, just keeping an eye on what is eaten by them …
An apple here (what I do without checking, too), a chocolate bar there (what I don’t do). Incredible, what people can eat between meals.


That is so great of your co-worker to take on that challenge to better understand what you go through. My husband is type 1 and I guess I don't think too much of what he goes through each day, every time he tests, every time he gives himself insulin (not on the pump...yet!).

Thank you for sharing that experience, I might just have to try it also.

I too always love reading about these Diabetes for a Day challenges. I think I might try to talk Pete into doing one. Maybe on a Sunday - I doubt he'd go off to work with a "pump" and do blood sugar checks.

I love your blog.. I have a 7 yo diabetic son.. and your blog gives me the faith he will grow up healthy,wealthy and wise:) Well my 14 yo daughter read this post and wanted to do the diabetic challenge.. So Starting yesterday,,we put on the fake pump and started checking her blood.. She is in 9th grade and she wore it to school today. Thanks for all the inspirating words of wisdom.. you help some of us off the ledge more than you know.

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)