Happy Saturday, and welcome back to our weekly advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and educatoAsk-DMine_buttonr Wil Dubois.

Hey, did you remember that tomorrow is Groundhog Day? Yup, and this week's column appropriately delves into just how much diabetes has in common with our furry weather-predicting friend. Read on, you know you're curious!

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

 

Phillip, type 1 from Pennsylvania, asks: Have you ever been halfway through a meal and all of a sudden not been sure whether or not you've taken your insulin? Or is it just me that has this problem? It seems to be happening to me more and more. Any tips on how to know if you've taken your shot when doubting yourself? Any tech to help us out?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: You're kidding, right? Have you read about my recent memory problems? I can't be trusted to leave my house with my clothes on, much less remember my insulin. That said, I think even in my debilitated state, I may have some advice to give you on this subject.

Innovation 2015

But first, for the type 2s who don't take insulin and the type 3s out there, I need to set the stage about why this is a real problem  -- not just for encephalitis victims, but for all insulin shooters, even those with genius-level IQs and photographic memories.

To do that, we only need to look to tomorrow for the perfect explanation behind chronic insulin dose amnesia. Yes, I'm saying that tomorrow we may find an answer, because it's Groundhog Day.

Our furry friend Phil from Punxsutawney, who's a member of the Sciuridae family, will be dragged kicking and screaming from his home (in front of a horde of media) to ascertain the weather forecast for the next six weeks. This seems rather cruel, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and predicating the weather six weeks in advance is a feat even the national weather service with their super computers can't do. So I guess torturing one rodent for the public welfare is justifiable.

Wait a sec. Groundhogs are rodents?

Yes, the famous species of critter variously called a groundhog, woodchuck, land-beaver, or whistle-pig is actually a type of squirrel related to marmots. Of course, only field biologists, people with too much time on their hands—and now you and I—know this. I only discovered these obscure facts because I called Punxsutawney Phil a Groundhog Day movie scenerodent and my 11-year-old know-it-all called me out on my facts. It turns out I was right (but by luck, not by education). Marmots are part of the large ground squirrel family Sciuridae, which is a sub-family of rodents. Therefore groundhogs are rodents.

What has this got to do with diabetes? Do groundhogs get diabetes? Actually, unlike most mammals, groundhogs do not get diabetes, and this odd fact may lead to novel new type 2 diabetes treatments in the future.

But when I think of Groundhog Day, I'm guilty of NOT thinking first of Punxsutawney Phil and the weather forecast, but of the legendary 1983 Bill Murray movie about a TV weatherman forced to relive the same day over and over again.

My friends: Groundhog Day the movie and diabetes the reality have a lot in common. Actually, if you think about it, in our D-lives like in Groundhog Day the movie, every day ought to be the same. We have to take our insulin and test our blood sugar again and again and again, and we always have to think about the relationships between food, activity, sugar, and medications. There's just a huge pile of the same BS that we have to do day in and day out -- including insulin injections, which are  repetitive in the extreme. And trust me on this—with or without your mind intact—after you've taken 1,000 injections they all seem pretty much the same.

So you don't need to be a senior citizen to have a senior insulin moment! You're not alone, Phillip. Noone who's had type 1 diabetes for more than a year hasn't at least occasionally stopped five bites into a burger with the "Oh-My-God-Did-I-Take-My-Insulin?" thought. It's a tribal universal for our kind.

So what to do? Well there are several options. First, let me say that pumpers have it the easiest. They can set the burger down for a sec, whip out the pump and check the device's memory to see when they last took a bolus. If it was more than five minutes ago and they forgot the burger bolus, they can calmly fix the problem with a couple of button presses (while mentally chastising themselves with the whole "I-can't-friggin-believe-I-forgot-my-insulin" thing).

Those of us who use pens and syringes have it harder, but there is some tech to help. A while back Lilly made a sturdy refillable pen called the Memoirâ„¢ that actually recorded each dose and stored the last dozen or so doses. If you had a senior moment, you could make like a pumper and just whip out your pen to check. Sadly, the Memoir was not rechargeable, and Lilly has dropped it in the USA. If you can find one that still functions, that might be an option. I had several patients who used them and loved them. Personally, I found them to be a bit bulky, but I did admire the craftsmanship. They were lovely mechanical pens with the precision you'd expect from classic German mechanical cameras or Swiss analog watches.

On the bright side, I read that Novo has received FDA approval for something similar, but I have yet to see one in the flesh. It's called the NovoPen5®, and at the butt end of the pen there's a screen that shows the most recent dose volume, along with some hieroglyphics that indicate how long ago that happened. The new pen looks pretty sexy and modern, too, aircraft aluminum with black trim. In pictures it looks thinner than the old Memoir, but as I have yet to get my mitts on one, I could be wrong about that. And, bummer for me, it does not deliver in half-unit doses, which I need for meals.

NovoPen5Novo has developed another pen called the NovoPen Echo that appears to have memory, too, and is a half-unit doser, and It actually just hit the U.S. market in January. Hey, Novo, where's my sample!?

Meanwhile, I have to give a shout-out to my go-to solution for keeping me on track with my Lilly Luxura half-unit pen. I use the RapidCalc app on my iPod. This is a totally fab little piece of software that functions like the brains of a pump. Granted, I still have to remember to enter my dose, easily done with a slider, but then the app tracks my insulin on board. It also crunches the numbers for me on my insulin-to-carb ratios and correction factors. It's like pumping without tubing or pods! Of course, it's not as perfect a solution as a pen with a memory, as you can remember to log while forgetting to shoot, forget to log while remembering to shoot, or forget both. So there's some room for trouble with my system, but you could also use it with an ol' fashioned syringe, too.

I'm sure there are a gazillion other tracking apps too, but I like mine. I don't like learning new things so I can't get excited about modern technology (sorry, 'Mine team!). Still, it wouldn't take you long online to find many to choose from.

Lastly, there's a rather bulky electronic cap for disposable pens called Timesulin. It doesn't track the dose, but starts a timer when you remove the cap from the pen. That's not a bad solution, as at least you know how long ago you last used your pen; and when you are partway through a meal and not sure, that's info enough. They're overseas and don't appear to ship to the USA, but it's not too hard to find a diabetes pen pal in the European Union to help you out.

So there you have it. Groundhogs, being rodent-squirrels, don't have technology — but I guess they don't need it, since they don't get diabetes either. Lucky bastards. Meanwhile we get diabetes along with the Groundhog Day effect that comes with it -- but we also have a lot of technology on our side to help us track and remember our doses.

Now all we need to do is learn to predict the weather.

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

 
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.