By: Brent Hanson
When I worked as a consultant for one of the “Big 5″ consulting firms a few years ago, I was always traveling around the country to different destinations. At each destination, I was confronted with decisions that affected my diabetes management-or lack thereof.
The main decision concerned how I would remember to check my blood-glucose levels when I was busy attending to clients, business meetings, and so on. Since I wouldn’t be in my normal environment but instead would be navigating unfamiliar territory such as airports, hotels, client sites and convention centers, how would I be able to check my blood-glucose levels, let alone remember to do so on a consistent basis?
If you’re like me, you like “gadgets” and “gizmos” that assist you in every aspect of life-from Palm Pilots to the latest generation of blood-glucose meters. As I discovered, you can make these “gadgets” work for you and help manage your diabetes even while you’re on vacation, taking a business trip or just hanging out at home.
The Palm Pilot
The answer I came up with was to use my Palm Pilot (www.palm.com/products/handhelds) to help keep my testing on track. The Palm Pilot has a built-in calendar feature that lets you set up appointments and then set a reminder to notify you of the appointments at the appropriate times. I used this feature to set up “check your blood glucose” reminders throughout the day. It prompted me to check my BGs and allowed me to stay focused on my work.
The Pocket PC
If you’d prefer an alternative to the Palm Pilot, there are many other such “gadgets” and “gizmos” that do pretty much the same thing.
I currently use a Compaq iPAQ 3670 Pocket PC that has the same calendar functionality as the Palm Pilot.
What’s cool about using either the Palm or the Pocket PC is that once you’ve set up the appointments in the calendar and synchronized your handheld to your PC, the reminders will pop up on your PC screen as well. So you’ll also get a reminder to check your glucose when you’re back in the office or at home working on your PC.
Other products in the marketplace that are less expensive than either the Pocket PC or the Palm Pilot also have the calendar/reminder feature.
For example, Personal Digital As-sistants, called PDAs, are great alternatives. Companies such as Sharp (www.sharpelectronics.com/products/FunctionLanding/0,1050,25,00.html), Casio (www.casio.com/personalpcs) and Franklin (www.franklin.com/estore/organizers) make inexpensive and easy-to-use PDAs. Prices run from around $19 to more than $100. Most have the calendar feature as well as a contacts function and a calculator.
Digital Voice Recorders
Another alternative to the calendar reminder of the handhelds and PDAs is digital voice recorders.
The digital recorders made by companies such as Olympus (www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_vr_digitalrecorders.asp) and Panasonic (www.panasonic.com/consumer_electronics/portable_audio/recorders.asp) allow you to record a message to yourself. For example, they can be programmed to say, “Hey, you, it’s time to check your BGs!” You can then set the message to be played at a certain time during the day (probably not the best approach if you’re sitting in meetings with a client).
Digital voice recorders cost anywhere from $29 to $300. Be careful if you are thinking of going this route, however, because functionality differs greatly. Instead of using cassettes, digital recorders use internal memory similar to the RAM in your PC or handheld computer. This is where the huge differences in price originate. The amount of internal RAM in your digital recorder determines the amount of record time available.
Olympus makes a digital recorder called the DM-1. It comes with 64 MB of RAM using a SmartMedia card. The card can be changed out with larger capacity cards up to 128 MB of RAM. You can record up to 10 hours and 10 minutes in standard play mode and 22 hours in long-play mode (using the 64 MB card). You can also copy your music CDs to this recorder (up to a limit of the amount of RAM remaining in the unit).
Any of these gadgets can be a great way to help you remember to check your BGs or to remind you when it might be time for a snack or a meal.
They’re also lots of fun if you like gadgets!