When it comes to using diabetes technology like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, we need all the help we can get — because figuring out the nitty-gritty of fine-tuning our basal rates, using advanced features like dual wave boluses, and troublshooting sick days and time zones ain't easy.
We've previously brought you reviews of such fine works as Pumping Insulin and Beyond Fingersticks (by the 'Mine's own Wil Dubois!), and today we're introducing a new guidebook from one of the country's preeminent endocrinologists, Dr. Francine Kaufman, the Chief Medical Officer for Medtronic Diabetes and a leading endo for more than 20 years. Her new book, titled Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A User's Guide to Effective Diabetes Management, is a slim, easy-to-read guide to these essential D-tech tools.
I was excited to see what Dr. Kaufman had to say about using them as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, I felt a bit let down.
My perception is that this book is very much a beginner's guide. A thorough, well-written beginner's guide, to be sure, but I did not find anything particularly impressive about the book, when compared to the previous books mentioned. Dr. Kaufman hits all the necessary points, such as how pumps work, explanations of features like bolus calculators and basal rates, and how insulin pumps can be used while exercising and traveling. But the prose had a very Wikipedia-feel to it. I didn't hear her voice as a person or an empathetic caregiver come through.
Note that Dr. Kaufman was careful to stay completely unbiased in recommending pumps, despite the fact that she holds an executive role in the world's leading pump company. Whenever an image of Medtronic's products was shown, an Animas pump and Omnipod were right next to it, keeping the playing field even.
What struck me was that the sections that explain how to calculate your basal rate and how to figure out your correction factor were concise and easy to understand — but maybe a little too concise. I kept wondering who the intended audience for this book was: People who already use insulin pumps? Or people who are thinking about using insulin pumps? Most of the information was basic enough that you would find a lot of it in the user manual of your insulin pump product. The chapter on continuous glucose monitors explains what a CGM is and what's involved in wearing it, but there's little explanation of how to effectively use it. Bummer. That's what I was looking for, of course! The book seems designed more as an explanation of what these devices are, rather than a workbook to help you better use them and customize your own settings.
Because the American Diabetes Association published this book, we have to consider that many of the explanations needed to be brief and also broad enough to avoid the appearance of making any personal medical recommendations, and also fit within all the general ADA guidelines.
In short, I felt that the title was a bit of a misnomer: while it is a thorough guide to what the technology is, it didn't seem specifically designed to teach effective diabetes management at all.
For anyone considering starting on an insulin pump or CGM, this is a great little volume to give you an overview of what you're getting yourself into. The in-depth explanations of device tweaking in Pumping Insulin and Beyond Fingersticks, on the other hand, might even be a bit too much information for some people.
The upshot is that Dr. Kaufman's book will give you just enough basic info about these devices to understand what they are and what they do, without overwhelming you with homework assignments (especially good if you are already working closely with a diabetes educator). But if you're already on an insulin pump or CGM, there are more detailed, more useful workbooks that can help you optimize your use of the technology.
"Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A User's Guide to Effective Diabetes Management" is available on Amazon for $15.88.
The DMBooks Giveaway
Once again we're giving you the chance to win a free copy of our latest book reviewed. If you'd like to win a copy of Fran Kaufman's Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring, check out the instructions below. Entering is as easy as leaving a comment!
Here's what to do:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the comment (beginning, end, in parenthesis, in bold, whatever). That will let us know that you would like to be entered in the giveaway. You may post a comment without entering, but if you want to be considered to win, please remember to include "DMBooks."
2. You have until Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, at 5pm PST to enter this giveaway. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
The giveaway is open to anyone, regardless of location. Good luck, all you Pumpers and Potential Pumpers!