Category: diabetes

Insulin on Board – Data Rep Final Project

I have completed Insulin on Board, my final project for the Data Representation class at ITP. Insulin on Board is a part of Databetes, my project focused on using data to improving diabetes health outcomes. As a type-1 diabetic of 25 years, I know first-hand that patients need greater support in making all the daily decisions that affect their blood sugar control. A PDF version that shows the whole piece can be seen at

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Data Rep – Final Project

I want to use my personal diabetes data as the source for my final project. I have information from:

  1. 3 devices – insulin pump and two glucose monitors (data from two devices is available through a .csv file, the final device through a .xml file).
  2. Google doc – lists everything I have eaten this year
  3. Glycemic index – I found this spreadsheet of glycemic values posted on the blog of another diabetic @
  4. Photos – food images
  5. Exercise – I use RunKeeper and Gmap-pedometer to track my distances

I will start by focusing on the insulin and food data. If I have time, I can include the exercise information. But the medication and nutritional data is more important to me for this project.

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My first microaneurysm

Today I saw the eye doctor for my yearly eye exam. It is important for diabetics to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy. This is a general term for all retina disorders caused by diabetes. Worst case scenario it can lead to blindness, but it is potentially treatable if diagnosed early.

For the first time ever, I have a small microaneurysm on one retina. My doctor assured me that it was quite small and is not a major issue. According to him most diabetics develop microaneurysms 15-20 years after diagnosis, even with good control (I just passed the 25 year mark last month). The American Diabetes Association website agrees, saying, “almost everyone with type 1 diabetes will eventually have nonproliferative retinopathy.”


that little red dot is a first for me

This seems to be news that should be taken in stride and is nothing major to worry about. Still, it is a good reminder to keep those blood sugars in check and see your doctors regularly!

25 years and counting…

I remember that June 14, 1986 was a Saturday. At age 12, I went with my mother that day to see my doctor. My health had been deteriorating for weeks. I had no energy, no appetite and an unquenchable thirst.

Several hours and a few lab tests later, I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. I had no idea what that meant at the time. But when my mother started crying, I knew this couldn’t be good. By the end of the day I was checked into the hospital, learning how to mix short and long-acting insulins in a syringe, test my own blood sugar and count carbohydrates.

Fast-forward 25 years and I am doing well! A check-up last week showed my HbA1c was a healthy 6.6% (diabetics aim for a reading below 7%). Eye exams have found no sign of diabetic retinopathy. A host of other lab tests consistently come back normal. With stable control, I have traveled the world in recent years for work as a photographer and run two marathons.

NYC Marathon

Mile 8 of the 2005 NYC Marathon (I had my insulin pump attached to my arm)

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Begin the begin

Hello everyone and thanks for reading this. I am new to this role as blogger, so please bear with me.

I plan to share with you here my thoughts on living with type-1 diabetes, health care reform, IT, data visualization, Web 2.0 services, social media and other potential ways of improving patient care. As a photographer, I am particularly intrigued by solutions with a simple, elegant design and an engaging user experience.

I selfishly await improved options for dealing with chronic conditions and improving overall health. Patient-centric innovation has been slow to develop, but seems to finally be picking up speed in recent years. Gone are the days when patients blindly trust the advice of their doctor. Today’s patients are increasingly using the Internet for self-empowerment and education. It is particularly inspiring to see many patients leading this charge by creating applications and services that address the shortfalls of HMOs, device manufacturers and pharmaceuticals.

I will share my thoughts on all these topics and more here. I hope that this conversation leads to a more dynamic and healthy landscape for us all.