Today’s topic is not one I spend a lot of time thinking about on a regular basis, but I have been on the receiving end of some useful inventions that, to me, are definitely Top Five.
- Home Glucose Meter: Even though these first arrived on the scene in 1981, and I didn’t start using one until 1983, they so far outshone previous home testing materials that they seemed then, and still seem now, like little miracles. Before the arrival of home blood testing, the only way to monitor diabetes at home was through ketone tests. And not the nice little strips like we have today — this test involved a test tube and a tablet, which dissolved in urine and changed color to show the level of ketones. Whoo — so glad that went by the wayside!
- Insulin Pump: The insulin pump has been around for a lot longer than I realized — at the link above, the author gets his first as a baby. My first, unfortunate exposure to insulin pumps occurred in the waiting room of my physician’s office in 1989: A friend of mine was rushed into the office by somebody, and he was completely out-of-his-head. Turns out his pump had shot him with about 6 times too much insulin, and he had somehow managed to communicate, before he lost consciousness, that he wanted to go to his doctor’s office. I was horrified, and decided right then that the vial and syringe weren’t so bad, and I didn’t ever want to be at the mercy of a pump. Not until about 3 years ago did I finally give in, and then only because of the enormous strides with which pumps had advanced. Still, no regrets.
- Angiogenesis: I participated in a research study, headed by Jeffrey Isner, M.D., at St. Elizabeth’s in Boston. The link above is to a very technical article, but it talks specifically of the results of the study at St. E.’s. In simplest terms, angiogenesis involves implanting vascular gene material in the wall of the heart, where then begin to grow new arteries. After the procedure, and time for it to work, I was able to go back to work part-time, stopped visiting the ER every 3-5 days for chest pain, (and/or anxiety attacks, which I think were part of the problem.) There was no doubt, though, that I needed something of a miracle, and angiogenesis was it. Thank you, Dr. Isner and your whole team.
- Isotope Stress Test: This test, described fairly simply at the link, is for people who cannot complete a physical, walk-on-the-treadmill stress test. My peripheral artery disease was so far advanced, when I went for my first stress test, that every one after used this procedure instead. I know I couldn’t have walked for 6 minutes, so I’m very happy someone came up with this instead.
- CDs: Before the advent of CDs, all recorded music was, in some form, analog, and very vulnerable to loss of information. When CDs first came on the scene, I heard rumors of the unbelievable clarity of digitally recorded music, as opposed to anything that cam before it. My sister S. owned the first CD player I ever saw/heard, and that was the time of some great musicians releasing material on CDs: Robert Palmer, Bruce Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, kd Lang. I was enchanted by the sound of CDs, so pure; but for years all I could do was record CD music onto cassette tapes, which defeated the purpose of the digital medium.