Tools Are Tools

Making use of advanced diabetes technology tools and old-fashioned determination.

Scott K. JohnsonBy Scott Johnson

May 2008 — I have had my mental diabetes toolbox for a long time. As a matter of fact, the doctors figuratively handed it over with my diagnosis of diabetes. I imagine I'll have it for a long time to come, but would happily chuck it right out the window if given the opportunity.

Like any kid's first toolbox, my diabetes mental toolbox started off very empty with lots of space just begging to be filled with information. You can picture a couple of the very basic things rolling around in there. I had my hammer (insulin), my screwdriver (urine testing), and a rusty old hand-saw (exchange system diet!), but little else.

Not being real handy with tools in general makes it difficult to get much of anything done, but necessity forced the issue with me. I had to learn how to use insulin and glucose meters. Admittedly, I was just going through the motions for most of my life. I chalk that up to a combination of sheer ignorance and some twisted forms of denial.

I spent a long time with those basic tools, and they served me fine. I learned that I don't like low blood sugars, except that I got to eat some sweet treat. I learned that really high blood sugars were just as uncomfortable, but in different ways. I learned that lows are more dangerous in the short term, but highs are very destructive in the long run. I learned that it is not as simple as following some formula or blueprint, but there are many other factors that effect my blood sugar.

The time I spent with those early tools was completely necessary and part of my learning process. Thankfully, better tools are developed and we come up with more creative ways to use existing tools. Now we have different types of insulin and more sophisticated delivery methods like pens and pumps. We are now testing our blood for glucose levels rather than urine. We are starting to experiment with supplemental tools like Symlin and continuously measuring the glucose levels in our interstitial fluid.

The tools will no doubt continue to improve and mature, making them easier to use and more beneficial to our health. I will take advantage of the opportunity these tools present to make living life with diabetes a little bit easier to manage.

With all that in mind I also have to acknowledge that simply possessing a tool does not mean you know how to use it. I have spent so much money on tools I thought I would use, but haven't. Or tools that I figured out, only after buying them, are much more sophisticated and a bit more complicated than I first thought. It can be downright intimidating. There are very few tools that you can master right out of the box. And there are NO tools that automatically finish your project for you.

It is important to keep using the tool between your ears, and to keep one that work for you, to your diabetes toolbox. My most important tools are knowledge, curiosity, persistence, a bit of stubborn, and a whole lot of refusing to give up.

(A little dash of dumb luck mixed in never hurts, either.)

Visit Scott's blog.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 11, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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