I’m a front-end developer at Tidepool. I write software to help extract and visualize data from diabetes devices. Usually when I talk to people about my job, they just think I “do computer wizardry stuff.”
Early on in my Tidepool career, I got inspired by the technological challenge and by doing a lot of relatively unique work in the health tech industry. I believe we do things very few others do from a technological standpoint. To my knowledge, almost nobody uses USB to communicate through an electron app like we do with Tidepool Uploader. It’s a cool thing to be doing with web technologies and I appreciate pushing the boundaries of what you can do with traditional web technologies.
Especially in support of a mission that’s so personal for me and my family.
When I was in high school, I had a routine physical because I was trying out for the soccer team, but instead of getting a place on the team, I found out I had diabetes. The doctor did a urinalysis and said he thought they’d found some glucose in my urine and were going to check my blood sugar. The in-office meter didn’t work, it just said “high” and the nurse was very concerned about it. At the end of the visit, they said, “We’ve done a deeper glucose analysis with a more advanced machine and you probably need to take yourself to hospital and get on insulin. Here’s a reference, go do that now.”
It was a bit of a weird introduction to diabetes but more pleasant than a lot of people get (they get very sick, get admitted to hospital and then figure it out). For me, it hadn’t progressed super far, which was nice. I guess I was showing some of the classic signs, peeing a lot and drinking a lot of Country Time lemonade, which of course wasn’t helping anything. But hey, what do you give a middle-school age kid who’s thirsty? Lemonade!
I felt like I’d dodged something. I don’t think I “missed out” on anything by not having the normal diabetes experience but I feel like I did have a much longer honeymoon period — maybe because it hadn’t gotten as far. I had a very short hospital stay — just one or two nights to get an understanding of the basics. I remember they wouldn’t let us leave until my mother gave me an insulin shot. She gave me that one shot and said, “Yeah, that's not happening again.”
I was going into my freshman year of high school, so there was a lot of change going on and that was a fun bit to throw on top of it.
I’m one of four kids and after I was diagnosed, any time one of my siblings felt weird, my mom would ask me to get my kit to test them and see what their blood sugar was. Every time I would tell her she was being ridiculous — that they were fine and didn’t have diabetes. Until the one time she was right.
Because my mom had been so vigilant with testing everyone, my youngest sister didn’t even need to go to the hospital. We just went to our endocrinologist, they looked at her height and weight and gave her the basic numbers she needed, faxed through a prescription, and told us to go get insulin. After that, my mom felt totally justified for every time she’d had me test my siblings’ blood glucose.
What was interesting about our diagnosis was that there was no history of type 1 diabetes on either side of the family — only an instance of thyroid disease on my father’s side and no history previous to that. We actually fell into a very specific category where there’s four siblings, no distinct history of diabetes, two older boys and two younger girls, and one of the boys and one of the girls has type 1 diabetes.
That specific combo had occurred four times in the entire United States and they wanted to do genetic testing on us. We respectfully declined at the time because we were just trying to deal with diabetes in general. We didn’t want a lot of extra bloodwork on top of that. If I were approached with the same opportunity now to look at the genetics of what’s going on, I would strongly consider it.
Chris also dabbles with glow poi from time to time.