Numbers Game

Forgive me, interweb, for I have sinned. It has been four months since my last blog post.

I could recite any number of excuses for not posting but the truth is Luka and I were dealing with some challenges that I didn’t want to write about until I had a chance to gain some perspective. I’m happy to say we have emerged from our cocoon of silence and are better for it. I hope to catch up in future posts but first I want to share some cold, hard facts.

In November I started keeping detailed statistics about Luka’s alerts. Every single alert (or missed-alert) was recorded and tallied by day in a spreadsheet. Each alert was categorized as follows:

  • Expected: This means that at the time he alerted I wasn’t surprised. My internal clock that tracks when and what I last ate, level of exertion since, and general trend of the CGMS during that period were consistent with the potential for a low blood sugar. In each case I confirmed with a finger stick and rewarded Luka, ate some Skittles, and recorded the alert on an app on my phone.
  • Unexpected: This means that at the time he alerted I was dubious about his sincerity. The CGMS typically showed me either steady in the 90’s or well above 100. I honestly believed these were false alerts. The meter confirmation of Luka’s diagnosis came as a complete surprise. I have another word for these events: LIFESAVERS. These are the potentially serious episodes that neither technology nor insight could have predicted and, before Luka, would have dropped my glucose to dangerous levels before I caught them.
  • False for attention: I’ll be talking about these more in upcoming posts since this was THE big challenge I struggled with. Suffice it to say that Luka learned that the alerting behavior brought him attention whether I was low or not. This was, in fact, the reason I started keeping such detailed statistics – so that I could measure whether things were getting worse or better as I tried to retrain his behavior.
  • False NOT for attention: These were really interesting and it took me a long time to understand what was going on. In these cases Luka was definitely not trying to get attention but still alerted confidently. More about this and false alerts in general in a future blog post.
  • Missed/Prompted: These were times when I discovered I was low either from a random finger-prick or because the CGMS caught it. In each case I intentionally got close to Luka so he could smell me clearly and eventually he picked up the scent and alerted.

Here are the numbers from the past 80 days:

Total Alerts: 241
Total Expected Alerts: 129
Total Unexpected Alerts: 112
Total Missed/Prompted Alerts: 22
Hit ratio: 92%

These numbers are shocking to me. Luka correctly alerted me to an average of 3 alerts per day. He protected me from 112 potentially serious hypoglycemic excursions missing a low only 8% of the time. I couldn’t be more amazed or grateful for his presence in my life.

To Luka!


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