Bayer, Insulet and Caleb

Should you see a Bayer Diabetes Care pamphlet the next time you visit your endo that looks like this:

Nick's Simple Wins

Open it up and you may find another familiar face:

2009 Contest winners with Nick

Insulet held a conference this week that you can listen to here.  Caleb is mentioned at the end as an example how OmniPod helps improve the way you live with diabetes – in Caleb’s case, by swimming freely.

Caleb in his "backyard".

Bayer’s DIDGET™ | Review by Caleb

We were excited to receive a free DIDGET™ blood glucose monitoring system from Bayer HealthCare.  I first heard of it about a year ago and was intrigued.

According to Bayer’s website, “Bayer’s DIDGET™ is the only blood glucose meter that plugs into a Nintendo DS™ or Nintendo DS™ Lite system. This unique meter helps encourage consistent testing with reward points that kids can use to buy items and unlock new game levels.”

If you’ve been following Caleb you know that he received a Nintendo DS™ when he braved his first DexCom™ insertion.  So with new meter, the Knock ‘Em Down World’s Fair DS game and a vial of test strips, we were ready to go.

Other than the meter, game cartridge and 25 strips, neither Caleb nor I are receiving any kind of compensation from Bayer.  Nor did Bayer specifically ask us to do any kind of review.

For more information on Bayer’s DIDGET™, including an online demo, check out their website.  If you search online for “Bayer DIDGET™ User Guide” you can get the complete instructions in PDF format. The way the system works is you use the DIDGET™ like any other BG meter to check your sugar. You then plug the DIDGET™ into your DS and start the special Knock ‘Em Down World’s Fair game.  The DIDGET™ uploads all the points earned from checking your blood sugar to the DS.  At this point you can remove the meter and play the game redeeming your points as you wish.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider our feedback on the DIDGET™:

  • Caleb uses the OmniPod insulin management system which has an integrated Freestyle meter.
  • Caleb checks his sugar eight to ten or more times a day without complaint.
  • Caleb’s use of Nintendo DS™ is limited to once, maybe twice a month. He’s a busy boy and screen time is a privilege in this house that is earned and only available after all other responsibilities and activities are completed.
  • Caleb had 25 test strips to use from which to earn “tickets” to redeem for rewards. More strips and longer use would enable a more comprehensive review.

Here’s Caleb’s candid responses to questions about the DIDGET™:

Here are some of my observations:

  • One of the first points made in the user guide is how to hold the meter when reading the blood sugar result. After personally having a mini panic attack when reading “26” on a OneTouch UltraMini that was actually a “92” held upside down, I had great appreciation for this instruction.
  • The rewards from using the meter are largely based upon frequency of testing.  You get rewards for checking your blood sugar regardless of the result.  The more you check each day (up to four times) and the more consistently you do so, the greater the rewards. There is a slight increase when your blood sugar is in range, but the lion’s share relates to frequency and consistency.  If you check more than 4 times a day, it doesn’t benefit you as far as rewards are concerned.  The User Guide has more specifics on how the calculations are made.
  • The game is not overly simplistic or cutesy. I expected that for some reason. It’s also not immersed in diabetes.  Other than a mini game called “Flash Carb” and needing to refuel your player with snacks, I didn’t see any reference to diabetes. I think these attributes will lend to longevity of use.
  • I was excited about the mini game Flash Carb that tests your knowledge of different food’s carb content. Estimating carbs is something we are currently working on with Caleb. But I didn’t know what kohlrabi or kasha were much less how many carbs are in them.  I do think Flash Carb increases carb awareness in general, but I was hoping for something a little more practical for us.
  • As you heard Caleb say, he enjoys the mini games and has his eyes on at least one he’d like to unlock with his rewards.
  • There is a battling component to this game that’s a little scary (emphasis on “little”). The music is a little tense and there’s a clown figure in it that makes me a little uneasy. Caleb agrees, although plays it without fear and no nightmares have resulted.
  • Caleb (age 7) can typically pick up a video game and figure out what to do without much (any) instruction.  The battle part of this game had us a little stumped.  However, older brother (age 10 who plays video games even less than Caleb) gave it a try and was much more adept.  I’m concluding that the game is targeted toward an age range that includes Caleb and children several years older and that’s why he (and I) struggled a little bit with this part.  Caleb was pretty excited just to watch Colin succeed at the challenges and I ultimately had to pull the game out of Colin’s hands.

Overall the quality of the game is good. This is based mostly on Colin’s and Caleb’s assessments and their ranking of it up their with any of their other favorite DS games. As you heard Caleb say, he would use the separate meter to check his sugar so that he can unlock more mini games and buy more food, costumes, pictures, etc.  He seemed very excited about it.

Is this going to make us switch to using the DIDGET™ on a regular basis?  I’m not sure.  The reward system won’t change Caleb’s D management.  He doesn’t need to be encouraged to check his sugar more frequently than he currently does.  Having to carry around a separate meter does not appeal to me, but Caleb doesn’t seem to mind.  Ideally I’d be able to split his prescription between two brands of strips – is that even possible?

The DIDGET™ definitely has the potential to improve a child’s D management.  But even if your child is already checking his or her blood sugar regularly, this game creates an intrinsic positive feeling about good blood glucose control. It’s something else available to kids to make them feel that living with diabetes isn’t “strange”.  I find value in that. Playing Nintendo DS™ is “cool” and having a game that’s made especially for kids with diabetes, which gives only them the power to earn the rewards, either for themselves or big brother, is pretty neat.

For other DIDGET™ reviews, visit:

Bennet at YDMV and again at YDMV and one more time at YDMV.

Leighann at D-Mom Blog, or

David at Health Central.

Meeting Nick Jonas – Nick’s Simple Wins

We first learned of Nick at our OmniPod training in April 2007.  Caleb was diagnosed only months earlier and one of the things that provided me great comfort was learning about people living full, enriching lives with diabetes. I heard of everyday people – someone’s friend’s daughter or other patients of Caleb’s endo.  There weren’t too many public figures living with diabetes that I found relatable.  So when I heard of a young man who was diagnosed shortly before Caleb, using the same pump as Caleb, and was continuing with his career in the public eye, I was intrigued.

Since then, Caleb has become a true Nick fan.  He owns his music, has been to his concerts, and has various books, magazines and paraphernalia featuring Nick and his brothers.  Caleb enjoys singing, plays the piano, is learning the guitar and recently acquired a set of drums which he practices daily – sound familiar?

When I saw the tweet from Amy about Bayer’s Express Your Simple Win contest last spring, Caleb and I got to work.  In October he  found out he was one of three grand prize winners and would be meeting Nick in Orlando.

Bethel Woods August 2008

Caleb, his brother Colin and I had the privilege of meeting Kevin, Joe and Nick at their concert in Bethel Woods in August 2008.  It was a fantastic experience.  We waited two hours to meet them for about 2 minutes.  As soon as Nick heard that Caleb also has diabetes, his focus was 100% on Caleb.  There were high fives, fist bumps, some words exchanged, a picture taken and huge smiles.  Caleb’s reaction was priceless.  He skipped out of there declaring, “that was totally worth the wait!!”  I saw firsthand the real, tangible influence that Nick has.  Two minutes was a thrill; I couldn’t imagine what an intimate meeting would be like.

Here’s how it went:

Upon checking in at the hotel, we heard, “Are you here for the Simple Wins contest? Is that Caleb?” It was Bradley, one of the other winners, and his mom.  Caleb was so excited to meet them.  That night, Caleb and I stepped out on the balcony of our room and heard, “Oh my goodness – is that Caleb?  We’ve been looking for you all day!”  It was Lauren, the other winner, with her mom and sister on the balcony next to us.  Another great thrill.  Meeting Bradley and Lauren was a prize in and of itself to Caleb.  They were able to talk amongst themselves, whether about baseball, singing, helping the community, or about diabetes, and feel connected.  There was an instant bond.

On the day of the meet, the winners were brought to a grand conference room.  Inside they chatted, took pictures and waited.  First came Big Rob.  He greeted everyone (or perhaps scoped out the room for Nick’s safety) and took pictures.  Caleb was on top on the world.  Rob left and while everyone talked about what fun that was, Nick nonchalantly entered.

The first thing I remember him saying was to Caleb: “I know that YOU are a Yankees fan.  You’re a good man.”  I didn’t think it could get better than that moment.  The four of them spoke of their interests, their stay in Orlando, the music they liked and they talked about diabetes too.  He asked Caleb if he ever went low while he was playing baseball.  It was nice.  It was comfortable.  It was exciting.

They took some pictures, Nick autographed Caleb’s Burning Up book on the page where Nick talks about his diabetes (Caleb proudly declaring, “I read the whole thing”).  Then they sat down and chatted some more.  Caleb talked about the concerts he attended.  Nick recalled being under the weather at one of them.  They talked more about the Yankees and the World Series.  Nick described how he watched the series on a laptop in Italy at six in the morning. Then “Bounce” became a topic of conversation and Caleb was invited to perform his version of Bog Rob’s “chicken wing” and “ham and cheese”.  Big Rob came back in to watch.  It was a reserved performance on Caleb’s part, but still great to see it bring smiles to everyone’s faces.

I spoke with Nick’s father, another kind and gracious man.  Upon thanking him, he responded, “we understand”.  It’s true.  They know.  He explained that Nick does this because when he was diagnosed, he wanted to know of the athletes and musicians and other public figures who were living with diabetes.  The list was short.  Nick understands the comfort it brings, and his ability to provide it.  So he does.

I spoke to Nick.  I took the chance to explain why what he does is important to us.  Caleb doesn’t wonder if diabetes will limit him.  He has virtually always had Nick as a point of reference to know that it won’t.  I don’t think Caleb has yet to even consider if diabetes could be an obstacle to anything he wants to do.  I credit Nick a great deal for giving that to him and I told him so.

As things were wrapping up, Caleb mentioned to Nick that they used the same insulin pump.  They took turns pulling up their shirts showing each other their Pods.

I have never seen Caleb smile so big or for so long.  Ever.

Thank you Nick.  Thank you Bayer.  You have created meaningful, lifelong memories.  The day itself was a thrill, but what I hope is that at least one day in Caleb’s future, when diabetes is proving difficult, he will think back to this meeting in Orlando.  He will remember a young man that was not all that different from himself: a young gentleman, with a curl to his hair, a love of music, a charming smile and the same daily challenges to manage his blood sugar.

I hope he will think of Nick and remember that diabetes didn’t slow him down and it doesn’t have to slow Caleb down either.

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