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Your Healthy Family: Education and technology are keys to managing diabetes

Posted: 9:16 AM, Nov 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-08 11:18:02-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Larry Dahmen is a Colorado Springs man we introduced you to in our last story. Twelve years ago, Larry was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and for years learned to deal with the constant finger pricks and self-administered insulin shots to keep his blood sugars in check.

Now, Larry has been able to do away with the finger pokes and insulin shots thanks to his UCHealth diabetes educators.

Larry says: “About five years ago they decided to put me on an insulin pump and a CGM, which is a continuous glucose monitor.”

Instead of shots, Larry wears an insulin pump on his arm, which he controls with a small display unit that is about the size of a pager. “With this (monitor) I can type in the number I get from my CGM, giving myself the exact amount of insulin I need to bring my blood sugar levels down to normal.”

Larry wears his glucose monitor near his hip. The CGM syncs with his smartphone and takes the place of those many finger pokes. “It goes right through my phone, every five minutes my sugar level is checked, and I can see when my blood sugars are trending up or down, and I can eat or take insulin as needed.” At five-minute intervals, his levels are tested 288 times each day.

Larry’s wife also has the app on her phone so she can watch his blood sugar levels, and Larry says managing his diabetes has become a family affair. “My son and I were out shoveling and my phone was inside the house. If my glucose goes to low, I will automatically get an alarm on my phone. That alarm went off and my 14-year-old daughter yelled out the window, ‘Hey dad, you need some fruit snacks?’ I stopped shoveling and went and got some fruit snacks, so they're watching out for me too.”

Because of technology and the help of experts, managing his Type 1 diabetes is much easier than it was a decade ago. Larry says, “It’s night and day. You don't have to stop what you're doing and test your sugar; you don't have to stop and give yourself insulin. You just dial it up on your pump and it automatically puts insulin in for you. You just have to make sure the pump is calibrated right.”

Larry says he is so thankful he took the time to meet with his diabetes educators. “With the help of the UCHealth educators, they dial your pump in for the carbs and ratios. I took a class with them about how to read serving sizes, so you see how many carbs you're eating, and the pump will tell you exactly how much insulin to take.”

This Saturday morning, November 9th, you can talk to diabetes educators for free at the Diabetes Community Expo. There will be other health care providers there from throughout the community also offering information and screenings. It’s from 9 a.m. to noon at the UCHealth Memorial Administration Center at 2420 East Pikes Peak Ave.

UCHealth is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family