A few months ago, Michelle Litchman ( a nurse practitioner, diabetes specialist, and friend), asked if I would be willing to take on a challenge… a “Fakebetes” challenge. What’s a “Fakebetes Challenge”, you say? For one week, I’m paired with a non-diabetic person who’s in the medical field to help give them a inside view of living with diabetes. Rather than them simply being hooked up to an insulin pump or giving injections based off of their own blood sugar readings, the challenge for me is to come up with different blood sugars and scenarios based on what might actually happen with a person who’s pancreas isn’t up to par, and act as the other person’s diabetes – meter, CGM and all. It’s on them to actually follow through with testing their own glucose levels and taking the required amount of “insulin” (saline).
I was matched up with a wonderful lady named Rachel… who happens to be a CDE and dietitian. And boy did I have my work cut out for me. This chick knows her stuff, and it was challenging to try to think of curve balls to throw, whether they were fast ones or ones that would take time to develop. Since I was basing my “fakebetes” scenarios based on what she was doing at the time, and over the past few hours, it became harder and harder to think of those curve balls because most of them she took without missing a beat. Last week, she was attending the AADE 2014 conference, so for most of the challenge, she was having to work around not only not being at home, but also being “newly diagnosed”.
Different challenges were thought of, like how important it is to eat on a relatively consistent schedule if you’re taking Lantus – and how skipping a meal could be bad.
I think Rachel will probably not look at another pack of fruit snacks for a while though, as most of the second day was spent low.. you know… too much Lantus and all, which often happens with newly diagnosed people, and we learned the importance of keeping quick sugar around too since she was caught once without anymore fruit snacks or any other quick sugar. We also went through scenarios of repeated lows after correction doses to cue into a sensitivity factor change.
Or how after having diabetes for so many years (or, you know, days in our case), some weird things can happen, like delayed food absorption…
And within that, one of the really hard realities of diabetes was seen:
I have to say the whole thing was fun. It was challenging for us both as she was kept on her toes by a few random numbers,
and I was kept on my toes by having to think of scenarios that went along with what a person hundreds of miles away from me was doing. It was like a weird game of poker.. which she eventually called my bluff:
And, really, what’s the fun in a challenge when you can’t taunt a little bit…
The only thing this challenge could not replicate is the emotional factor of actually living with diabetes – both newly diagnosed and over time. Though Rachel took everything in stride, there was something I could never convey over text… the emotions that come along with being high – the guilt, the frustration, the “why did this happen? I did everything right?”, the just plain suckiness that you feel overall after having 2 or 3 highs in a row… and though we touched on a very real point of the fear that can happen when one goes low, especially one after a meal, there’s just no way to convey it fully over text.
In the end, it was super fun. We not only talked diabetes, but we veered off into all sorts of chats – diabetes devices and technology, of which we’re both geeks about, and our kids, and our love of mac and cheese. I gained a friend this week, and to me, that was worth the challenge. I hope I was able to teach her something or at least help her to think a bit harder and see beyond a number. Then again, she taught me that there are some kick-butt CDE’s out there that stay on their game more than we may think.
Now… I need to track down that darn Fakebetes Fairy Squad…
To read Rachel’s take on the experience, you can go over and read it on Michelle’s post today! Also, if you’d like to volunteer to be paired with a health care professional (HCP), please either reply here or let Michelle know on her post today. She has a few ready to go, just needs a few volunteers to match them up with!