Can I share a secret with you? I don’t look at my diabetes data very often.
Yes, I’m Tidepool’s Community and Clinic Success Manager and part of my job involves demoing our awesome, free software to clinicians across the world. And part of that demo includes walking them through demo accounts filled with my own data.
But while I may look at my data all the time, I don’t truly look at my data with the intent of identifying opportunities for adjustment or improvement very often. As a creature of habit, I don’t like to rock the boat. Things are going well enough for me that I choose to focus my energies elsewhere rather than tinkering with my basal settings or correction factors.
But every so often, I take a moment to genuinely focus on what my data is telling me. I believe data can help us consider where we can make the biggest impact on our diabetes with a little effort. And tools like Tidepool can help to facilitate that storytelling.
Most recently, I took a close look at my breakfast habits. I have a homemade granola recipe that I’ve been using for the past few years to fuel my morning routine. With my trusty measuring cup, I eat the same thing for breakfast during the work week, at around the same time, too. With all of those constants, this makes for an ideal opportunity to review my data and see what, if anything, warrants a change.
So, a couple of months ago, I took a look at my Trends View in Tidepool Web and the CGM (continuous glucose monitor) data displayed over a two-week period to see if anything stood out to me. What do you see?
By looking at the story my data is telling, you can see the spike in my CGM readings between 8:00–10:00 am. Based on this, you could come to the (correct) conclusion that I eat at around 7:30 am each day. You can see the median CGM values for this two-week period are above my high glucose target of 180 mg/dL (that’s 10 mmol/L for you international folks out there). The dark gray boxes representing 50% of my CGM readings for the time period are also well above my target range. And the outliers in the outline boxes all trend well above what I’d like to see on a day-to-day basis.
So where’s the opportunity? Pre-bolusing.
For two weeks, I really, really focused on pre-bolusing for breakfast. Waiting at least 15 minutes before eating. Two weeks later, I uploaded my data again to see if I noticed any significant changes.
The change, to my surprise, was quite dramatic. Median values within my target range, and the majority of my data around breakfast, shows very little variance.
What did I learn?
First, pre-bolusing works for me. And I hate that. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but patience is not my strongest personality trait. Your diabetes may vary, but in this specific use case for my diabetes, pre-bolusing at least 15 minutes before breakfast is ideal.
Second, and more importantly, the data — my data — tells quite the story here. I saw an opportunity, made a change, and within two weeks was able to see the impact of that change.
And here’s the great thing about this: Even if the change wasn’t as dramatic as the example I’m sharing with you, a lack of dramatic change is still valuable information.
Third, when I’m ready, I really need to work on that 3:00–6:00 pm window. But that’s another blog post.
Our data tells us a story of where we’ve been, and where we have the potential to go in our lives.
The key thing for me is knowing that my data is always there when I’m ready to dive in, evaluate where I can improve, and take the initiative to improve some aspect of my diabetes. No matter how big or small.
These stories are why we do the work we do at Tidepool. Our job is to make your data more accessible, actionable, and meaningful. We want each of you to have the opportunity to learn from your past experiences and enact meaningful change on your future. At the end of the day, it’s your data. You get to choose if and how that impacts your own diabetes data story. That’s why this mission is so important to all of us on the Tidepool team and why, with your help, we can #PaveItForward and continue to offer innovative solutions to the diabetes community.