Just got a new Fitbit Flex. So far, I’ve only used it for two days, although two days was enough to have me feeling a bit like Wonder Woman with her indestructible wrist cuffs.
With logging diabetes data on my OmniPod, CGM, and BG tracking app, why on earth would I want yet another data entry device to worry about?! Turns out one of the most attractive things about the Fitbit is that it isn’t subject to any of the proprietary B.S. that all my other devices fall victim to when it comes time to actually view the data. It’s so simple to use that I can see my data with no more hassle than looking at a mobile app or website, it syncs automatically via WiFi, and works across all operating systems and platforms! It’s open API and integrates with lots of mobile apps, giving it even more functionality. Bonus: I don’t have to pierce my body to get it on, deal with calibrations, site changes, alarms, or discomfort. I just wear it like a bracelet and essentially forget about it. It’s providing me with a sense of freedom in patient generated data (PGD) that I’ve longed for with my diabetes devices. Because it’s so much easier than what I’m used to, I’m actually motivated to set activity goals and complete them. What a treat!
I know a lot of Fitbit users like to keep in touch via social media and share their data, but something else I really love about the Fitbit is that I don’t have to share. This is my data and mine alone! I’m not required to whip it out and share it with physicians at every turn in the road. I don’t have to scramble to have all my data-entry ducks in a row, only to have my Endo pour over it (in 5 minutes flat!) offering the inevitable praise here and reprimand there. It’s my Fitbit…my secret…my precious…
You might also like Big Diabetes Data Requires Big Analyses
If you’re anything like me, you’re currently clocking data on your CGM, your insulin pump, your BG meter, and any other number of devices including mobile apps for diabetes, fitness, or menstrual cycle, and wearable fitness devices like Fitbit.
It’s easy to look at one post-meal high and make a judgment call. But it’s really hard to look at months worth of data and try to pull out patterns to really improve overall BGs and health. Websites that integrate with my OmniPod and CGM (and are Mac compatible…don’t get me started on this…Gah!) only have the capability to really track BG and carb counts well. But we all know it’s the type of carbs, not the number of carbs that really matters. Also, was I especially active on a particular day? Stressed from a big meeting at work? Having PMS? So many variables to consider!
Since I already have all the BG and insulin data on my pump, meter, and CGM, (that I’ve laboriously collected!) I literally fantasize about just uploading those items to a single program online and then using apps of my choice to input details about my other “life variables,” such as food, exercise and activities, moods, monthly cycle, etc…..and finally (here’s the kicker) have the apps sync their data with the existing pump/meter/CGM data online in the same program! Perfect! Easy! Right? No way!
As you’re probably well aware, most of our diabetes meters, pumps, and CGMs have proprietary software and/or limited relationships with other diabetes-device companies. So, based on who manufactured our devices, we’re all pretty much limited to one or two platforms for viewing the data…and those options sadly don’t integrate with apps we’re using to track our food, fitness, etc.
My current work-a-round solution for viewing OmniPod and CGM data (on a Mac) is Diasend, however even here you need a Clinic ID# (or to register as a non-US citizen) or your CGM tab will be grayed out. I also use the mySugr app for logging (btw…I love mySugar), Google Cal for my monthly cycle and HRT, and just started tracking activity and sleep with a Fitbit Flex. I make it work but it’s still me piecing together data from four different locations.
Fortunately (and just in the nick of time if you ask me) the US is at the beginning of a wave of personalized, data-centric healthcare, sometimes called the Quantified Self. A lot of new data collection platforms designed for non-PWDs (like Fitbit and Lose It!) are using open APIs, which means they share and can integrate data. After years of finding work-a-rounds and “making do” I feel like the current big data trend in healthcare is finally going to make my fantasy a realty…in the very near future. So, everyone put down your proprietary diabetes devices for a second and raise your glass! Here’s to hoping!
Super interested in the Quantified-Self movement like me? Here are a few really cool recent articles:
As a mother with T1 diabetes (and Grave’s disease) I can’t help but wonder “Is my child more likely to develop one of these conditions and if so, is there anything, no matter how small, that I can do about it?”
You’ve probably all heard the term “genetically predisposed to diabetes”. What does it mean? Basically it means that you were born with certain genetic markers (that’s just a small piece of your DNA) and research has shown that if you have these certain genetic markers you’re more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes than if you don’t. We have no control over our DNA, so if we have them, we were born with them and that’s that. The same goes for our children. (Read a summary from Joslin Diabetes Center about what you’re child’s genetic risk may be based on relatives with T1).
Outside of the world of genetics though, there are lots of other factors that have been shown to increase (or decrease) your risk of developing T1 diabetes, including environmental factors (like certain things you eat or don’t eat), and your microbiome (that’s the “usually good” bacteria that live inside your body all the time….eww!). Researchers are doing more and more studies on these other factors every day. When factors are shown to increase your risk of developing T1 diabetes they’re called risk factors but when they’re shown to decrease your risk of developing T1, they’re called protective factors. Ahh, as a parent I really like the sound of that…protective factors….
There isn’t anything I can do about my children’s genetic risk factors, or their microbiome (yet), but what about the environmental stuff? Are there any protective factors, even if they’re small, that I can integrate into our daily lives? In short, the answer is yes.
Will they actually help to protect my kids? I’ll probably never know…but turns out most of these small changes, largely related to diet and our environments, are healthier choices for the whole family anyway, so why not try?
Some of the first protective factors we can control as parents are related to infant diet (but there are others that apply post-infancy). Infant diet protective factors include: longer duration of breastfeeding (at least 4-6 months), and waiting longer to introduce cow’s milk products (at least 8 days).
As a T1 diabetic these reasons were some of the most important ones for me when I chose to breastfeed my kids…and the main reason I really pushed myself to continue with it for at least a full year.
psst…I’ll be posting about other risk and protective factors periodically under the tag “Type 1 diabetes pathogenesis”.
- Study to investigate causes of Type 1 diabetes (abc.net.au)