Buzz buzz buzz … by Helen May

A  few hundred years ago, when some one wanted to get in touch they would knock on your door: there was no door bell and very few people had telephones. At the same time, no one considered whether they had “done enough exercise”: many were tired when they returned from a long day of manual work in the mills or down the pits. I imagine the sound of the industrial revolution was the background drone of heavy machinery with few urgent alarms.

Nowadays, I feel the sound of my life is buzz buzz buzz. The day starts with my alarm going off: buzz buzz buzz. If someone wants to gets in touch with me they send a text or an email or a message on social media and my phone responds with a vibrating buzz. As I walk home from the gym, my fitness band tells me I have reached your exercise target by vibrating on my wrist: another buzz.

With diabetes, I get more buzzes: when my pump gets blocked or the battery starts to run down or I accidentally cancel the infusion, it buzzes at me. I am currently trialling a Continuous Glucose Monitor (more about that another day). When my blood glucose (BG) is too low at night, I am woken with a buzz; when my BG climbs too high after a meal, I am reminded to check my pump with a buzz; when the CGM loses contact with the receiver, it buzzes.

Having all this information available instantly can be brilliant as I am able to make corrections and get on with my life. However, I am starting to wonder if I am concentrating on the here and now giving myself time to stop and think. At work, I receive a Skype message telling me to update some records immediately. I rarely have time to stop and work out why. Does it matter that something is wrong for 30 minutes? And how did it became wrong in the first place? Are there some underlying reasons for the mistake? Or is it really a mistake?

On a social level, it is great to catch up with friends: like their Facebook posts, agree when we are next climbing, share advice on diet, recommend a plumber or plan a trip to the pub. But I feel there is sometimes a gentle pressure to respond immediately. Sure, a plumber may be urgent but does it matter if it takes a couple of days to read (and react to) their humorous comment on Facebook about the guy sitting across the aisle from them on the train?

Diabetes-related buzzes and interruptions from pumps and CGMs do need instant response: its not good to ignore a low BG or a blockage warning from my pump. However, with all the demands that are going on around us, I find I am too eager to correct and move on. I miss the point that my pump often alarms when delivering my dinner time bolus, I may not realise that my BG always falls fast after climbing, it takes me a few months to register that I always have to top up my bolus a couple of hours after a bar of chocolate.

So, I am trying to put time aside once a month to upload all my data to from my pump and meters to Diasend (I sure other tools are available but I use Diasend because my healthcare team have access to it). Once uploaded, I try to review it for any new trends and adjustments I need to make. I say “try” but, unfortunately, I am often interrupted by a buzz  on my phone from a friend or late request from work. It’s the soundtrack of the 21st century … buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz bu…

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