I’ve added some new gadgets to my life in the last few months, though one of them is decidedly less high-tech than the others.
Pump You Up
I’ve had diabetes for over twenty years, at least as far as official medical records are concerned. Realistically, I’ve probably been dealing with it since my twenties. I’m diagnosed as a Type II diabetic, which means that my body doesn’t use the insulin that it produces very effectively. In other words, my insulin resistance has been steadily increasing over the years. After my pneumonia scare seven years ago, I finally started insulin.
Side note: if you are a healthcare provider who is trying to convince someone that they should start using insulin, don’t threaten them with the idea. I fought the idea of taking insulin for several years because my doctors always phrased it as a failure on my part to have to take insulin. “If you don’t do this thing and take better care of yourself, then you will have to start taking insulin shots, and you don’t want that do you?” Yeah, that’s not a really effective way to convince someone that they need insulin. If you beat someone down like that for a long time and then tell them that they need to start using this thing that you’ve been threatening them with for years, you can expect some pushback.
Anyway, I started using insulin about seven years ago. I was fortunate that the VA used pens rather than syringes; pens made my life much easier. My treatment plan was a little vague in the beginning though. Rather than teach me how to count carbs, they just said, take X units of insulin with every meal. If every meal that I ate had the same amount of carbohydrates in it, that would be a fine plan. Narrator’s voice: but not every meal has the same amount of carbohydrates.
After several years I finally taught myself how to count carbs and how to adjust my insulin. Wait, back up a little bit. I didn’t really teach myself although I did do some research. What I did start doing was reducing the insulin that I took based on what I was actually eating. It took me seeing an VA endocrinology PA to finally learn how to calculate insulin to carbs. The reason the PA talked to me about calculating the ratio was that I was under consideration for an insulin pump. Pumps are an amazing way for people with diabetes to control their disease. You are basically adding a bionic pancreas to the system.
I’ve been using the Tandem t:slim X2 pump since late April, and I love it. I’m not doing six or eight finger-sticks a day or an equal number of injections each day. Now I’m down to one injection per week of a helper med and only an occasional finger-stick when I have to calibrate the sensor.
There are plenty of resources online about insulin pumps in general and the Tandem in particular, so I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here about them. I just want to say that I love my pump and really wish it had been offered to me much sooner. I suspect that some of the damage that I incurred over the years would not have happened.
New Phone. Who Dis?
My 4-year-old LG v20 started showing its age, and LG has exited the phone market, so I reluctantly gave it up and moved back to a Samsung phone. I hated that I lost both the second screen and the IR emitter on the LG phone, although with the battery dying so quickly lately, I’d turned off the second screen. Nor do I like the inability to change out the battery and the lack of an SD card and a headphone jack, but that seems to be what the manufacturers are giving us these days. I really wanted the monster camera in the Galaxy s21 Ultra, but champagne tastes met my beer budget, so I ended up with an s21+. The camera on this thing is lightyears ahead of my v20, which was a pretty good camera in its day. I’m still working on getting used to the “new” OS, which is the same (Android), but different (Samsung vs LG, and four versions newer).
The First One is Free
The low-tech gadget that I’ve picked up recently is a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen. I’ve toyed off and on with the idea of buying a fountain pen over the years, but I could never really justify the expense. I know that it’s very easy to spend upwards-well upwards-of $150 on a single fountain pen. But I’ve never been able to escape the elegance of the thing.
My mother had an old fountain pen that would have been kind of cool to salvage and rebuild, and that’s one of the things I regret losing when we lost the house. But a friend of mine had recently gotten into fountain pens, and his first pen was this Pilot Metropolitan. He has since upgraded his pens, and when I mentioned thinking about getting one that day at dinner when he was showing off his newest and greatest pen, he offered to give me this one. I remarked to another friend that that’s kind of how drug dealers do it: the first one is free.
I’ve mentioned several times in the blog that it’s really enjoyable for me to sit down with a writing implement and paper to scribble out a passage. It’s much more satisfying to see the words appear on paper than on the screen for some reason. There’s something almost primal about it. (And yet, I’m dictating this blog post to be transcribed by a computer later. Go figure) I’m definitely going to end up with another pen or two. I enjoy writing with this Pilot, but I noticed that the pen my friend Cecil showed me the other day wrote with a much lighter touch. I’m also going to end up experimenting with inks and papers, I’m sure. A fellow writer observed that she had learned that papers made in countries that use sugar cane or rice to make the paper tend to be better. That could be fun to test.
I pulled the trigger the other day on a new pen (A LAMY LX), two new inks (Diamine’s Blue Velvet and Writer’s Blood), and an ink sampler. The LX has a medium nib as opposed to the fine nib on the Pilot (and there’s a difference between European nibs—the LAMY—and Japanese, like the Pilot). Combined with the Writer’s Blood, it brought to mind an old Bic felt-tip pen I used to use in grade school. The LX seems to write much more smoothly than the Pilot, although the Blue Velvet seems to flow better than the basic black ink the Pilot came with.
So how’s everyone else these days?
Thanks for reading! Feel free to share a comment or thought. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends on social media. Sign up for my infrequent newsletter here. Find some of my other writing at The Good Men Project, too. Subscribe to the blog via the link in the right sidebar so you never miss an update here, either. You can also add my RSS feed to your favorite reader.