CGM Data: Around the World and Back Again – to my Pebble Watch

After attending the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit last November and being inspired by the Nightscout crew (and pretty much everyone else there as well!), I finally decided to take the time to set up a Nightscout website. I’ve had it up and running since Dec 2014. Being an adult with Type 1, I monitor my own blood glucose levels. I don’t have anyone that would be interested in following my data on a daily (much less hourly) basis, so I wasn’t sure if the functionality of Nightscout would be worth it for me. After 8 months, I can say with certainty that it has been…and then some!!!

I don’t actually use my NightPebbleWatchscout website or phone app very much but I LOVE wearing my real-time data on my Pebble watch. I’m probably 1000 times more likely to glance at my watch to check on my blood sugar than I am to dig in my purse (through all the snacks and toddler/kid gear) and haul out my Dex receiver or my phone. The setup to get my data to my watch was somewhat complicated but with the addition of the Dexcom G4 receiver in May, my data is almost 100% constant without much involvement from me other than occasionally restarting a few apps on my iPhone.

Last week, however, it suddenly quit working and I got emails written in what may as well have been a foreign language, saying things like “your Heroku app on free dynos needs to recharge.” I’m pretty techno-savvy and am generally an early adopter of new technology but I’m not a programmer and certainly don’t fully understand all of the ins and outs for each step I followed in the pipeline to ultimately setup Nightscout. Going back through them to figure out which accounts I used in my setup needed changes and what else it might affect wasn’t quite like starting at the beginning for me…but it was close.

There are so many different ways to setup Nightscout, including what hardware you’re using, what service providers you chose, what account parameters you chose with some of those service providers, etc., that it’s not an easy task for me to filter through the Nightscout setup guides and Facebook group looking for clues related to updating each piece of the specific pipeline that I selected to use. So, after I finished getting my data stream to my Pebble working again (took me about 3 hours), I decided to make a little diagram to help me understand how all the pieces I’m using fit together. Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure I have my pipeline figured out correctly but wouldn’t bet my house on it : )


My hope is that next time I need to make a change, I’ll be able to get it corrected more quickly…and with a little less terror! My current pipeline configuration prior to last week was free and now, with the required changes, looks like it will cost me $14/month, but it works for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

MeandKidsI can no longer imagine not having my data on my Pebble. I feel so much safer. EVERY time I’m with my kids at the park, or the market, or driving in the car, and I glance at my Pebble, I’m thankful. Quite simply: I want to be the best mom I can be; I want to stick around to watch my kids grow up…and Nightscout helps me do that.

Big House : Small CGM Transmitter Range

So, we finally moved into our new house about a month ago. One of the strangest diabetes-related things I’ve had to get used to is the size and shape of my new house when it comes to my CGM signal. The Dexcom G4 is supposed to be in range as long as the receiver and transmitter are within 20 feet from each other. Our old house was kind of a 50s bungalow, where I could set my receiver in a central location and still have my signal picked up all over the house. Only our master bathroom stretched the range, so showering was the only time I had to remember to pick up my receiver and take it with me. Our new house is bigger and also more spread out. When we first moved in and I was unpacking, I missed hours of data at a time (and I missed a lot of lows and highs).

Caller-ID Big House:Small CGM Transmitter RangeI’ve really had to get adjusted to carrying my receiver with me from room to room in the house. It has turned into a bit of a ball-and-chain but my thinking is if I’m not going to have the receiver collecting a signal 99.9% of the time, then what’s the point of wearing this additional, ugly (yet not inexpensive!) hunk of plastic on my belly all the time, right? I’d love to take a vacation from my CGM occasionally but for me diabetes devices are like the original Caller ID box (remember those days?!) once you have it, you really can’t ever go back to being without it.  I hope to look back at my tummy devices and signal ranges one day just like I look back at the Caller ID box now and say “Wow, can you believe I used to use one of those things all the time? And I thought it was so high-tech!”

Mediband Gets a Thumbs-Up!

Several months ago I wrote I Heart Silicone Medical ID Bracelets , covering the list of reasons why I wear a medical ID bracelet and choose to go silicone (on the wrist!).  Also, I plugged my favorite place to order individual bracelets with customizable text (inside and outside.)  Today, I’m plugging a newly discovered favorite, Mediband!

MedibandWristbandsWhile, I do still love my old silicone bracelet, 4 years is a long time to wear the same one…and I think our relationship was due for a little “space,” so I’ve been on the lookout for new diabetes wrist bling.  Criteria:  Silicone, customizable inside/outside, and hopefully something with a little character that isn’t too child-like.

I’ve also have been considering finding a place online to store all my medication/dosing info…and it turns out Mediband fits the bill there as well.  Previously, I had all this information at home and in an emergency my husband would probably be able to find it.  However, with everything else in my life stored and easily accessible “on the cloud,” why not this too?  Why burden my husband with having to know where to look for it?

I found myself biting the bullet and looking into MedicAlert.  For some reason, that company has always made me feel like it caters to a much “older” crowd and with my 40th birthday looming on the horizon, I wasn’t excited about it.  It does seem that their website has been “youthed” up a bit, however I still find a lot of their jewelry personally unappealing and their service isn’t free, at $10-$50/year.  Plus, a lot of their jewelry has “set engraving” which means it’s not customizable.

Mediband (based in Australia,) on the other hand, has an online Emergency Medical Information Record (EMIR) called MedibandPlus that is free for the first year with a purchase of a bracelet and only $7 a year after that.  You can enter only what you like and set the privacy level individually for each field of information, e.g. Maybe I don’t care if everyone in the world could see that I’m Type 1 diabetic but would prefer to have only hospitals be able to access my health insurance ID.  Of course, to access any of your information, someone would first need to enter your membership number on the MedibandPlus website…and mine is safely tucked away on the inside of my wristbands.

Mediband packageFor the wristbands themselves, I wanted to order the customizable set of 7, but seeing as they were coming all the way from Australia, there were 7 of them, and I’d be wearing one everyday, I wanted to be sure I got the order right.  I emailed with my detail oriented (hopefully not to annoying) questions about exactly what the finished product would look like.  Their customer service was great (and patient with me)!   I took the plunge and then waited almost a month (custom product from Australia, remember), which actually felt like a year, and finally got them last month!  I love them!  In fact, I like the look of them so much, I often “go eighties” and wear several at a time.


I’ve even gotten compliments on them from non PWDs who just think they look cool.  I chose to have the “Star of Life” logo in bright orange/red on the outside, so it wouldn’t be likely to be missed in an emergency.  I also printed “Insulin Dependent Diabetic” on the inside with another logo (where the logo and Diabetic are in bright orange.)  Then, there is still room for me to add my MedibandPlus membership ID, the website url, and my husbands name and phone number.   For me, on all fronts, Mediband is a win.

Photo-a-Day: Advocate

Photo-a-Day-AdvocateI use each of these items every day to help manage my diabetes.  Each one tracks a necessary variable.  In order to optimize my treatment, I need to analyze the data I collect, and yet none of these devices talk to one another or have a common analysis platform.  I advocate for simplifying diabetes data collection and analysis, while empowering patients.  (See my proposal, Pixels: Your Personal Diabetes Big Picture).

This post is one in a series for the National Diabetes Month of November.  Kerri from initiated the Photo-a-Day idea and prompts and lots of other diabetes bloggers have chosen to follow suite.