This is a joint blog between myself and Pete Davies (@swelldiabetes), a Diabetes and Endocrine Consultant from Sandwell. Pete is always keen to engage with patients and listen to their ideas about how diabetes care and self-management can improve. He wants to find ways to make basal testing easier and more enjoyable for people, so we gathered our thoughts on the subject and put them on paper.
What Pete and I are hoping to do is to set up a live basal test via social media. We don't have the logistics just yet, but we do have a few ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space.
We would appreciate it if you could comment at the bottom of this blog (or on facebook/twitter) with the 1 thing you find difficult about basal testing. It'll give us some ideas on how we can make basal testing easier for you!
We hope you enjoy our blog :)
Good ideas can come at any time & I feel at my most creative when I am with groups of PWD (People With Diabetes). Last week we had a DAFNE course for insulin pump users. One of the games us educators like to play is to tot-up the number of years of D experience in the room.
136 years experience of living with diabetes.
We talked about loads of things & they had plenty of questions. These days I always take the opportunity to do a gentle sales pitch on social media as a means for getting on-going support, practical and emotional too. The reception can be mixed, this group seemed quite open to the idea. One person was already using Twitter, two others use Facebook. None of them presently use it to get support with their diabetes.
HCPs a have a strong belief that regular basal checks help PWD keep their pump therapy on course. At the same time, realists accept that it's rather like those stretches we know we should do after exercise, those five pieces of fruit and vegetables we know we should eat each day... It all sounds so easy and nice, in principle…
During our conversation, my sales pitch about Twitter and about the need to promote easier basal checks seemed to meld together into a Dragon's Den pitch:
Group Twitter chats could be just what is needed to help support PWD to complete their basal checks and to make the right to changes to their basal insulin doses when they are armed with good information.
So PWD on #ourD & #doc, I'm looking for £100,000 for a 30% stake my business...
What's that you say? Have I registered my intellectual property??
As Pete mentioned, basal tests are something that people with diabetes *should* do, but sometimes... don't. We each have our reasons for why we do or don't chose to follow the 'rules' or advice that our HCPs (Health Care Professionals) give us, and of course we should all be free to make our own decisions, but perhaps there is a way that basal testing could be easier? Maybe even fun? Would that encourage people to basal test for our own benefit AND keep our HCPs happy?
I can count on both hands the amount of times I've done basal testing, and since starting on the pump I've really slacked doing it only once in the last year. Some of my reasons for why I haven't done as much as I perhaps should have are:
Timing - Is there ever a good time to basal test? I'm constantly on the go, whether I'm at Uni, studying in my own time, working, looking after my patients on placement etc, I often find that my mind is on other things. It's not that my health isn't as important, but a lot of the time I need to pay full attention to what I'm doing and give it all the energy I have. I like to have a quiet day to do basal testing and that in itself is a very rare thing for me.
Hypos - They nearly always seem to crop up when basal testing is about to commence! Obviously if a hypo occurs during a basal test this indicates that my background insulin may be too high and allows for changes to be made, but 9/10 if a hypo's coming it comes before the test starts. Then, once the hypo has been treated we have to wait again until we can start the basal test again... what if there isn't time to do it again?!
Food - I don't want to be hungry for 4-6 hours! It's as simple as that. If I do basal tests I tend to do it on a day off and days off are for relaxing, enjoying the things that I can't enjoy whilst I'm at work/Uni/placement and charging around at 100mph. Abstaining from food is the last thing I want to do.
Rules - What are they exactly? One HCP will tell me one thing, another will tell me something different. Can we eat zero carb food whilst basal testing? How long do we wait after a hypo to start the basal test again? Which blood glucose level should we start the basal test at? What happens if I happen to be rushing around that morning/afternoon/evening and it affects my levels? So many questions... and so many different answers.