Tech­ni­cal Sup­port

Family Circle - - ON DUTY - By Chris­tine Yu

“Camp wasn’t an op­tion since my par­ents wor­ried about my glu­cose lev­els overnight, but now we all get real-time read­ings.” EDEN, AGE 13

Man­ag­ing di­a­betes is a 24/7 job. The lat­est tech makes it a lit­tle eas­ier (and less wor­ri­some) for teens—and their par­ents.

Be­tween try­ing to pass physics class, go­ing on first dates and, ugh, acne, ado­les­cence is hard enough. But for teens with di­a­betes, it’s an even more chal­leng­ing time. They get hit with a dou­ble bi­o­log­i­cal whammy: Not only are their bod­ies hav­ing trou­ble pro­duc­ing or us­ing in­sulin to process sug­ars in their blood, but surg­ing teenage hor­mones can also cause a roller-coaster of blood sugar highs and lows. Plus, what teen wants to check their glu­cose lev­els mul­ti­ple times a day in front of friends? Thank­fully, smart tech­nol­ogy is help­ing teens with di­a­betes stay on top of their chronic ill­ness, side­step com­pli­ca­tions and, well, just be kids again. When she was 10 years old, Eden Karp had a nearly fa­tal in­ci­dent at sleep­away camp. Un­di­ag­nosed at the time, she pro­gressed to a late stage of di­a­betic ke­toaci­do­sis, where acids dan­ger­ously build up in your blood­stream. She had a full re­cov­ery, but her par­ents wor­ried about her be­ing away from home at night, when her blood sugar could dip haz­ardously low. What’s more, rou­tine fin­ger pricks only give peo­ple with di­a­betes a snap­shot of their glu­cose lev­els and zero in­for­ma­tion on how to proac­tively han­dle blood sugar highs and lows. So this West­field, NJ, kid stopped go­ing to sleep­overs and put sleep­away camp on pause—un­til she started wear­ing a con­tin­u­ous glu­cose mon­i­tor (CGM) months later. Eden’s mon­i­tor gives her blood sugar read­ings any­time on her smart­phone. The Dex­com de­vice uses a su­per-thin sen­sor wire in­serted just un­der the skin to de­tect glu­cose in the sur­round­ing tis­sues ev­ery few min­utes. It also shows where her num­bers are headed, so she can ad­just her med­i­ca­tion to stay within a safe range. Teens can share their data wire­lessly with par­ents, school nurses, coaches and doc­tors—mean­ing more ad­ven­tures for kids and peace of mind for adults. “My par­ents can check their

phones to see how I’m do­ing,” says Eden. Even though newer mod­els like the Freestyle Li­bre (the size of two stacked quar­ters) are more dis­creet, some with di­a­betes would rather not wear a de­vice. But Eden feels safer with hers. “I don’t have to stress about my blood sugar,” she says. “I’m so thank­ful for that.” De­ter­min­ing the cor­rect in­sulin dose re­quires math—a lot of math—be­fore ev­ery meal and snack. It’s also re­stric­tive. “If you give your­self an in­jec­tion, you’re com­mit­ting to eat­ing that amount of carbs to match your in­sulin dose,” ex­plains Fran­cis Sell­dorff, 17, from Bos­ton. You can’t just eat a few ex­tra chips. Once you fig­ure out how much of the hor­mone you need, then come the stares. Pulling out a sy­ringe or in­sulin pen while at a restau­rant or party can be em­bar­rass­ing. “When I was on shots, I had to stop and take in­sulin no mat­ter what I was do­ing,” says Katie Dean, 17, of We­tumpka, AL. “I looked weird when I pulled out my nee­dle.” In­sulin pumps, for those on daily in­sulin ther­apy, have the power to do away with anx­i­ety and awk­ward­ness. “You en­ter your num­ber of carbs, press a but­ton and it cal­cu­lates your dose based on your ra­tios,” says Fran­cis. “You can ac­count for how lit­tle or how much you eat.” And no more in­jec­tions. An­other plus: With his pump at­tached to his body, Fran­cis doesn’t have to take off his hockey pads to give him­self a shot. His pump does all the work un­til it needs to be re­filled (ev­ery three days). With new al­go­rithms that au­to­mat­i­cally stop in­sulin when glu­cose lev­els are pre­dicted to drop, pumps are be­com­ing even smarter. The only down­sides: They can be ex­pen­sive (de­pend­ing on your in­sur­ance), and some peo­ple with di­a­betes don’t want to be at­tached to a de­vice 24/7.

“Us­ing sy­ringes— some­times dur­ing hockey prac­tice—was awk­ward. But now I don’t ever need to take off my pads for a shot.” FRAN­CIS, AGE 17

Eden pe­ri­od­i­cally checks that her con­tin­u­ous glu­cose mon­i­tor is prop­erly cal­i­brated by prick­ing her fin­ger and test­ing her glu­cose her­self.

With Eden’s de­vice, re­view­ing her glu­cose lev­els is as easy as open­ing an app.

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