Dear Diabetes, you suck.

a front end developer who also happens to have type 1 diabetes

Tag: blood glucose testing (page 1 of 3)

Preparing for your Night Scout Build – Extra Help

I had a great time building my Night Scout, but I was really nervous about having the right parts to complete the build. The directions for building the Night Scout are incredibly detailed and amazing, that being said, sometimes I need a little extra help — here are some extra pictures and detail to help you prepare before starting your Night Scout build.  I have explained my decisions, but if you want the a + b directions they are in blue bold text through out this post.

First to clarify, I am building the least complicated model — just the Dexcom reciever to an android phone, not including the pebble or any other additional device (I plan to add/upgrade later).

Physical Components: 

The 4 things you need: Dexcom G4 Receiver, USB to mini USB cable (same as the cable used to charge your Dexcom), Smartphone supporting USB OTC and an OTC cable

1) Your Dexcom G4 Receiver and the USB to mini USB cable used to charge your Dexcom (any USB to USB mini cable can be used)

2) Smartphone supporting USB OTC — I could attempt to explain, or link to explanations, of OTC technology and how to tell if a phone is going to work, but our reality is that we just want this to work… with that in mind, I highly suggest just buying a phone that has been validated rather than going through your build and being frustrated by it not working. The Night Scout Build Page give a full list of phones that work with carrier details and a list of phones that have not worked. Here is a consolidated list of devices that I used to determine which phone to buy.

From looking at this list, and reading other people’s build stories, I would recommend picking up a version of the Samsung Galaxy (Other than the Mini or the Core Prime, see my simplified list of OTC phones)  — that being said, for cost purposes, since the phone does not need to work as a phone, only as a data transfer device, picking up any proven phone model from eBay or a certified pre-owed from your current cell phone carrier is a totally valid option. I fully tested my rig with an eBay purchased Samsung Galaxy 3 on wifi only, before investing in adding an additional phone to my wireless plan (enabling my Night Scout to work when wifi is not available).

The phone must be running Android v 4.x for the Night Scout app to work. If you are also interested in building the xDrip device the device will need to be on Android v 4.3 in order to support BLE.

3) OTC Cable(s) – again, here I could explain/link to explanations, but rather than all that — this is the OTC cable I purchased, I prefer the “L” shaped end of the cable to help minimize the chances of the cables being knocked loose. The linked cable is a two pack, as with any other technology, I would recommend at least two cables for replacement purposes, but also for testing, to ensure your rig is working (see other Night Scout documentation for more information on cables, replacements/reliability).

My current rig consists of a Samsung Galaxy 3 purchased on eBay, previously used on Verizon, the above linked OTC cable,  my Dexcom G4 receiver and a USB to USB mini cable as pictured below.

Once you have the components — I suggest that you verify your version of the Android operating system before starting with the build. 

Now you are ready to build your Night Scout device! Start here!

Simplified Night Scout Phone List

Below is the summarized list of phones that I used to make my decision when building my Night Scout Device*

Night Scout Phone List


*It should be noted I compiled this list based on available Night Scout information, after first failing using another phone. Additionally, this list does not include carrier information, some phones have only been tested on specific carriers, for my purposes I assumed that the technology was based on the device and would be compatible with a wifi only build, and then later with a build on a major carrier — this is not necessarily true, it was my assumption that has held so far for my builds.

Diabetic Dashboard

People ask “How are you doing?” all the time, usually I answer with “fine”… well here’s a more comprehensive and Illustrative answer…


This is my latest take on something that could help me to better understand my diabetes and how to manage it. For right now I’m really just reporting findings, but as I get a better sense as to what I can pull out of my devices, I will switch gears into focusing on insights that I can pull out of the information.

Let me start by saying that I used professional tools to get to this point — I could have stuck to excel, but it would have taken me a lot longer and wouldn’t have been a repeatable process. My goal is to hone this process, so I can get as close to real time as possible — based on the level of effort required, I think that the most practical estimate for this is probably a weekly report, but the process is going to need work to even get to that point.

How did I get here? [the geeky stuff] Dexcom reports out two sets of numbers — the meter values that you input to the receiver (calibrating it), and the reported values that show on the screen every five minutes, these two sets of data are reported separately, but in the same worksheet. To add to this, when I updated the software on my Dexcom receiver it archived my file to date and created a new file, so I have to files one from when I started with the Dexcom to the software update, and then one from the software update to present day. What I needed to do was split and clean two data files, and then add together the corresponding parts, from there, I added an additional field identifying each of the data points as either being a “Meter Value” or a “Dexcom Reading” — which then enabled me to join the two tables back together as a single table with the fields of Time, Blood Glucose, and Type. This is the data set that I pulled into TableauPublic to build the visualization below. There were around 65k records, so we have a good bit of time in TableauPublic before we will have to think about filtering the data set down in anyway.

Your next generation report card

Looking at the same numbers, but cleaning it up and adding some detail to be able to zoom in on parts of the time frame… let the iterations begin…

[Enter Sanity Here]

Yeah… this is the text chain between me and a very supportive friend…

Pizza and Cupcakes


Seriously, god bless her… I am making no sense. taking no advice. barely “hearing” anything. also my stomach still feels like shit.

cherishing sensor free time…

pigs-fly.517.416.sI know that I’m not supposed to do this… but I just feel free. I took my dexcom off last night. and I felt like going to bed. I didn’t want to jarred awake two hours later, so I made sure my numbers were alright, and I went to bed with no sensor on, I feel free. I can soap up in the shower without worrying about bumping it and messing up the adhesive. My dog can jump in my lap and I don’t have to worry about where her paws are landing. I just feel better, natural, the way I’m supposed to be. I can’t convince my self to put it back on… I keep thinking “do I really have time right now? what will I be doing in two hours? will it work? no… I’ll do it later.” and it keeps getting pushed off. rebellious teenager or tired diabetic… maybe a bit of both. I have to replace my ominpod tonight too, so maybe I’ll just do them at the same time… you know what that means though… I could have total device free time… I told myself I wouldn’t do this… but I’m so excited… I know it will just be for a few minutes (as long as I behave), but I am so excited to be device free even if it’s for such a short time… I know it’s not a good idea. Lunch is hitting me right now, and I really wish I could just know where I’m at — I’m so used to having the dexcom. even though I hate my devices, they are so damn helpful. oh well… we’ll see what happens… maybe I’ll be responsible, I mean eventually pigs will fly, right?

Dexcom doesn’t make alarm clocks…

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.15.34 AMSo… I woke up late this morning. Apparently I turned my alarm off, both of them… in additional to my conventional alarms, I also ignored my CGM… for 4 hours… that’s right… from roughly 3:30am to 7:30am I was “in the red” and I just kept “snoozing” my Dexcom. This is not the first time this has happened, and yes, I am precisely aware of how bad this is. I have written about how scared I am about going low and dying and no one knowing because I live alone. The CGM was supposed to help all of that by warning me when I’m low and helping me fix it before it was a problem… not condition me to ignore yet another alarm. I cannot believe that I am being so callous with my own health. I know better than this. Full disclosure, this is not the first time I have done this. Second disclosure, the only reason this morning made me really mad is because I realized I had polluted four hours of sleep when I could have just gotten up, had a juice box, and then not been woken up by the CGM alarm every twenty minutes for the rest of the morning. Also, oversleeping my other alarms, because I was exhausted from “snoozing” the CGM all morning, made me late for the dentist — an appointment I loathe anyway, and then add being late on top of that… #notafan. Worst of all, none of those things are the primary reason that I should be upset about this morning. I am playing with my health. If I do not take the CGM warnings seriously, or at least double check them, I will ignore it one too many times and end up in the hospital (if I’m lucky) or dead (if I’m not lucky). It scares me to write this right now, but I feel like I need to write it in order for me to really hear it from myself. I need to not do this anymore. This is not acceptable. This is not okay. I will do better.

Not again.

[Full Disclosure: I’m currently drinking a juice box… yeah, you do the math]

Casey does not like lows. Although not officially trained, she has been know to alert me to a low faster than my dexcom. #GoodPuppy #GoCasey #CaseytheTripod

Casey does not like lows. Although not officially trained, she has been know to alert me to a low faster than my dexcom. #GoodPuppy #GoCasey #CaseytheTripod

So, I was just winding down, watching tv, playing a game on my phone, thinking about getting up to brush my teeth, etc… when I realize that Undercover Boss is making me tear up… and I feel a little hot, and light headed… and… oh crap. just as I go to test, my dexcom goes off, it’s okay — I have the alarm set to 75 (so I have time before it’s “really” bad)…. um, yeah… so my meter reads… 63. the worst part about this is that in my head I’m saying “that’s not that low” — well yeah… except I’m already fogging out. and my dog is just laying next to me looking at me like “really mom… again?!” I thought I would finish getting ready for bed before getting some juice… not the best choice, never mind the logic of drinking juice after brushing my teeth… bad taste and bad dental hygiene… it took me probably 15 minutes to brush my teeth, take a pill, and get a juice box out of the fridge… I think I walked in and out of my kitchen at least half a dozen times. I’m done with the juice box now, I also ate some insurance (a granola bar) to get me through the night.

Here’s the worst part… I know exactly why I got here. My eating habits suck. The food I eat may not be that bad, I’m not binging on doughnuts (anymore… or at least not lately), but.. let’s think of a nice way to say this… I am not keeping to a diet that best supports maintaining stable and healthy blood sugar for a diabetic. What do I mean by that artfully crafted statement you may ask… well, let’s start with today. Breakfast was normal — I’ve trained myself into eating breakfast, I hate eating in the morning, but now that it’s routine, I sort of forget that part and just do it. From there it goes down hill, I skipped lunch — I thought I would just have a yogurt at the office, but we were out for whatever reason, so instead of being responsible and going to get something… I just eat whatever I want… in the roughly 9 hours in the office I ate 1/4 bagel (I didn’t eat any more of it because it was stale), two chewy bars, and a bag of pop chips… and gave no insulin for any of it. So then I came home, and as you can probably imagine, I was running a bit high, so I figure out the correction and figure in what I’m about to eat for dinner (rice, black beans, chicken/steak… semi alright dinner), and round down and then give myself insulin… I know the ratios my doctor recommended are too heavy handed, but I don’t trust myself, even though it’s my body. I thought rounding down would do it. Nope. It took a few hours, but here I am, again. And now it’s time to go to bed. What if I go low in the middle of the night? Casey, while she can stare at me with an exasperated look, cannot administer glucagon if I wait to long and do not call for help. As my diabetic friend put it when I was telling her that I had hit 29 and been able to drink juice and been fine… “you didn’t know that the sprite would work fast enough, and if it hadn’t you’d be dead” — talk about a sobering thought (that statement is humorous because both of us are sober).

Well, now all that is left is for me to sign off and go to bed… wish me luck. Until the morning.

Update [Bad Night]:


Dinner and the ensuing crash, lots of snacks and then another crash. And close up proof of me being ridiculously irresponsible and ignoring the alarms all morning. And yes, I decided that now would be a great time to change out my sensor #notsobright #FuckDiabetes

Last night, in addition to my granola bar “insurance,” I drank another juice box… assuming that 58 carbs would be more than enough to safely carry me through the night. wrong. wrong wrong wrong. Here are some snap shots to help convey the madness.

So… that’s how my night went. basically, just shitty. I’m still weirdly hot. and I still haven’t eaten anything. call it rebellion. against myself. so really I’m just screwing myself and risking a hospital visit. or death. nbd. except actually a big deal. Fuck all of this. I feel like shit.

oh yeah… and I’m starting to regularly “snooze” my dexcom… which is not only unsafe, but also results in being woken up repeatedly, rather than actually getting back to sleep, which then results in me being exhausted and leaves me questioning whether the exhaustion is really exhaustion or just a symptom of the continued low blood sugar. Fuck me. Fuck Diabetes. Fuck Everything.

Blood Glucose Testing… without test strips?!

Slide-1I came across this really interestingl Diabetes Technology article. on It talks about the development of a device that will read blood sugar without a finger prick! I know, really exciting, right?! The technology is really interesting, even though it is definitely a few years away from the market (pending further development and the dreaded FDA approval process), it looks really promising. For those of us sick of pricking our fingers, and even more sick of building up scar tissue, it is definitely a beacon of hope. In addition to the article, the manufacturer (Grove Instruments) has a demonstration video on their website.

If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, it boils down to this… “Grove Instruments is developing a pocket-sized device so diabetes patients can measure their glucose levels without taking their own blood… [the] product could become available for use … by 2015 or 2016.” (Taken from the aforementioned article found here on

Although I’m trying not to get my hopes up (even though a statement above totally conflicts with that effort) for any advances in technology, I have to say that it would be amazing to not have to stick myself all the time — I’m so sick of it. So so so sick of it.

Independence Day!… yeah, no.

FIREWORKS_2This year, the name Independence Day is slightly ironic. Since being diagnosed with diabetes, I will never be entirely independent ever again, I will always depend on some blood sugar monitoring. forever. I hate this fact. Diabetes is enough to make me want to abstain from all holidays. Holidays almost always cause a break in my routine. I generally do not know when or what I will be eating with any real certainty. In the case of 4th of July, most of the generally associated foods are not diabetic friendly — BBQ with giant buns, french fries, lots of fruit,  popsicles…  It’s one of those times where it’s just really inconvenient to be a diabetic. I mean, it’s always inconvenient to be a diabetic, but holidays are especially inconvenient. Try being the only adult who has to say to their friends “I really need to eat, so we need to [leave, figure this out, etc.]” — I know that it’s a disease and I need to eat, and most of my friends are really helpful about it, but I hate having to be “that” person… I am so sick of being “that” person. I just want to hang out with my friends, or eat, or do anything and not have to worry about my blood sugar… I mean I do things without worrying about my blood sugar, but it pretty much always ends badly (too high, over adjust, then too low… then ping pong, then hangover…). Yay Holidays! Fuck Diabetes.

Well, with all that… Happy 4th of July!

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