Letters to the Editor

Sep 1, 1997

Animal Lovers

I couldn't cut the subscription form from my sample July issue of Diabetes Health because I wanted to save the editorial on animal insulin.

Animal insulin has been my friend for over 57 years, and my endocrinologist has no plans to try Humulin! I have no complications, and I have never been happier.

Bob Dornhecker
Dallas, Ore.

Thank You for Your July and August Issues!

I am a very well controlled type 1 who was on NPH Iletin 1 (50 units per day) for 37 years. After switching to Humulin, I suffered from very poor control and hypoglycemic unawareness.

On receipt of your July issue, containing information on the similar problems that other people encounter with human insulins, I demanded to be put back on Iletin. I have been using it again for two weeks now and I am back under control, and my hypoglycemic warning signs have returned to the level that I had known all those previous years!

James R. Hart, Jr.
Corning, Calif.

Editor's Reply

Eli Lilly is now letting people know on its customer service line (800-545-5979) that it plans to discontinue production of its beef pork insulins in 1998. Lilly expects all stock to be depleted by 1999.

Diabetes Health believes that this decision is surrounded by a number of controversial issues and will have serious ramifications for a large number of people. We are preparing an article for the October issue to address these issues.

Half as Big, Twice as Convenient

In response to (Waste Not Want Not, page 2, May 1997), your readers should be aware that the AdvantaJet needle-free jet injector allows the user to dial in a dose accurately ranging from 1/2 unit to 50 units. There is a marking every 1/2 unit on the injector, making this a simple procedure.

Jaye Sengewald, RN, CDE

A Guide Through the Wilderness

It seems that every day I meet someone who has diabetes and does nothing about it. I think part of the problem is their doctor.

A friend I'll call Nancy and her husband recently came to my diabetes support group on my request after she had told me she was a diabetic.

After the meeting I checked her glucose and it was 421 mg/dl! She had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 2 PM the following day, and I asked her to come to my house after the appointment to give her some more information that might be helpful for her.

To my dismay, her doctor had told her to go back on her medication and not worry about it. I was sure her doctor would have put her in the hospital to lower her glucose and get her on the right track. I asked her about her blood pressure and she said the doctor told her it was fine. I checked it and it was 230/140, much too high.

I am not a doctor, but I was a paramedic in Arizona for nine years and saw many diabetics who did not take care of themselves. It was very sad.

It seems to me that some of the doctors where I live now don't have the time to take care of those affected by diabetes, and we don't have an endocrinologist here. Fortunately we do have a diabetes educator.

Douglas Redman, RN, CDE, works at the local hospital and leads the diabetes support group that meets once a month. If it wasn't for him, most of us would have no one to look to with questions about our illness.

Anthony Leonardi, Sr.
Oroville, Calif.

Reflexology Works

I am a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic. My doctor prescribed the lowest strength of glyburide available, I meticulously followed the dietary information my diabetic specialists provided.

Recently I found a book about reflexology and began to use its techniques. I have been applying pressure to the points listed to activate a "lazy" pancreas. I use accupressure on my feet, the center of the back of my neck, an area between the top of my right hip bone and the navel.

In less than a week my BGs started to change. They went from 150 to 66, then leveled off into the 70s and 80. Still, I was taking one pill each morning.

I discussed dropping the glyburide pill with my doctor and he and the diabetes personnel in Tacoma agreed I could.

I believe that research should definitely include - in addition to insulin and pills - some reflexology to rejuvenate the work of a lazy pancreas.

Donna Grossruck
Auburn, Wash.

Another Loss Attributed to Hypoglycemia

I was deeply affected by the story about Adam Greiner (Tragedy Strikes a Young Man, page 18, July 97). I know how devastating the loss of a loved one to hypoglycemia can be, as I lost my own brother, Paul, to a similar circumstance a year ago. Paul was 33 and had lived with diabetes for more than 25 years. In the last five years of his life, it became increasingly difficult for him to control his blood glucose levels. Like Adam, Paul died in his sleep.

My family struggled with the local coroner's office who attributed my brother's cause of death to a probable seizure disorder. No mention of diabetes was made at all. Even after receiving oral and written communication from my brother's endocrinologist who indicated that Paul had a history of nocturnal hypoglycemia, the coroner's office issued the death certificate without any mention of diabetes.

My family questioned the coroner regarding the death certificate and eventually was successful in getting it changed to reflect diabetes as a probable contributing factor in Paul's death.

Losing a loved one to diabetes is the hardest thing I have ever faced. The idea that he could die in this way and not even have the disease acknowledged was inconceivable to me and my family. Our hearts go out to Adam's family and hope that they have been able to reach a satisfactory resolution with the coroner's office.

L. Murdock
Sacramento, Calif.

Editor's Reply

Sadly enough, Paula Harper of the International Diabetes Athletic Association reports that Julie Reitan, a 21-year-old cross country and softball star in Tucson, Arizona, also died in her sleep from hypoglycemia recently.

"We are saddened to hear of Julie Reitan's untimely death. She was an inspirational young lady and a fine athlete," says Harper. The IDAA will publish a tribute to Julie Reitan's life in their September newsletter.

Regarding Low BGs at Night...

I am writing to make a brief comment about the nighttime hypoglycemic attack Scott King wrote about in the My Own Injection , page 3, July 1997 issue.

I hope that literary license was taken and he did not truly stumble to the kitchen. Diabetics should have a glucose monitor at their bedside as well as something that will rapidly correct a hypoglycemic attack, such as glucose tablets. If one stumbles towards the kitchen, he actually may stumble, break bones or cause serious head trauma.

Lawrence Rosman, MD, FACP
Forest Hills, NY

I'm responding to July's article, ("Hypoglycemia: What Every Person Should Know," page 1) regarding the need for more research to prevent BGs from dipping dangerously low overnight. Although I closely monitor my BGs, I had an overnight seizure in 1987. I suffered from two broken shoulders and a vertebrae compression fracture.

Back then, such an occurrence was new to my doctors, but apparently it isn't now. To prevent this from happening again, I ordered a Sleep Sentry for $250 - not cheap, but worth the money. This watch-like device senses hypoglycemic symptoms and sets off an alarm when body temperature or moisture levels change.

After it ceased working several years later, I called the company to buy another and found it was no longer available. The inventor had died, the business had been sold and the current rights-holder of the machine no longer made Sleep Sentry. Granted, the Sentry is an imperfect warning device and it doesn't always work, or the symptoms don't always let it. But I'm certain it saved me from "who-knows-what" numerous times.

While attempting to find another machine, someone told me that given today's current FDA guidelines, it could no longer find approval due to its imperfections. I finally found another Sleep Sentry in the early 90s and bought it. But like my first one, it now needs a tune-up.

Now one of my Sleep Sentries doesn't work anymore, and the other one barely works, but I know of no one out there who services these devices anymore.

This machine serves a real purpose for me, and I'd like it to function again. I wonder if its disappearance is due to money, liability, lack of a market or government regulations?

As a type 2 diabetic and a National Public Radio journalist, I can appreciate your editorial content and keen awareness of money and business issues which rarely get mentioned in magazines. I consider it to be the best little-known, specialized magazine I've found. I'm glad you're doing what you do and wish you continued success.

Bill Zeeble

Editor's Reply

Eric Orzeck, MD, can repair your Sleep Sentry for you. He charges an initial fee of $35 to look at it, and if there aren't any lost parts it is approximately $25 more to fix. He warns, however, that it may cost more if there are lost parts.

Orzeck is also currently looking for anyone who has technical experience in electronics to begin manufacturing the Sleep Sentry again.

For more information contact Eric Orzeck, MD, at 8181 N. Stadium Drive, Suite 200, Houston, TX, or call (713) 799-8585.

Who Can You Trust?

I was (to say the least) aghast to read an answer to a letter from a prisoner asking about his accuracy concerns when two BG meters were being used for 40 to 50 inmates (Diabetes Health July 1997).

The "answer" came from a meter company representative! How objective could that answer be?

As a former meter company representative, I know that sales is the primary objective of meter companies and that "their meters are always the best." To have a meter company representative provide the technical "answer" to a question is highly suspect, regardless of the credentials of the person answering the question. All the credentials in the world become meaningless when a company is paying his or her salary.

Please have questions answered by people who are motivated by better patient education and care instead of their sales bonus. Thank you. Please continue to educate all about diabetes.

Nancy E. Trinward
Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Editor's reply

You make a good point. In our defense we felt that because Linda Warren is an RN, CDE, she had the qualifications to accurately answer the meter question.

We try to maintain objectivity in our publication. Unfortunately, finding experts without certain biases is challenging.

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