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Diabetes control and its tech, take 2: panic buttons

So as I said in my previous post calling my diabetes problem is not really a type 2. According to the specialist I went to see this week, it’s actually much more similar to type 1, but it’s neither, and is strictly related to my pancreatitis.

Anyway the doctor put me on insulin (which I was actually expecting); this is no big deal, even though my mother started fretting as soon as she heard of it (why do I still keep her up to date? I really shouldn’t, at this point). I mean, there are kids out there managing their own insulin injection, why should I be worried about this? And it’s not like I’m scared of needles at this point.

But of course, they had to warn me about the dangers of hypoglycemia (also known as low blood sugars), and how to treat it. Since I live alone, they were even more concerned: in the (remote, given my blood sugars) chance I would have an episode of hypoglycemia, I have to rely on somebody actually checking on me. During the week it’s easy: I work at an office, so I asked my colleagues, if I don’t arrive and I’m not answering to please check on me. But what about the weekends? What about bank holidays and vacations?

Well, I started looking for an app for android to do that as that seemed to be the obvious solution to the problem. Unfortunately, I could not find anything that fits the bill as intended for me. The main problem is that most “dead man’s triggers” apps (some of which are named this way or variants thereof, are designed for a different situation: they are designed to get rid of the data on your phone if you either died or your phone got stolen or got lost, which means they got features such as password protection and wiping, but they don’t have a “call with a pre-recorded message” feature which would be much more useful to me.

Indeed, what I’m looking for is:

  • scheduler: I don’t want to have to ack the trigger during the night;
  • list of randomly-selected people to text or call;
  • ability for the person that has been called to ack/nack the request (so that somebody else can be contacted if, say, the contact is away from the city);
  • an escalation procedure so that if nobody can be reached to reach to me (and I still haven’t answered the trigger, which should keep ringing), an absolute emergency contact can be defined — in my case that would be my employer’s security office;
  • a way to provide a quick broadcast of the location of the phone, so that if I’m not home somebody can actually find me.

If I don’t quickly find a solution to this I might as well just decide to write my own, but I’d rather avoid that since I have barely the time to live, lately.

Comments 7
  1. If you don’t find one, I can write it for you. It doesn’t seem too hard (except maybe for the pre-recorded message, but I can search for some information in the meanwhile).

  2. Being in the same situation, I’m also interested in a technical solution to this. I did manage just fine without involving any tech or anyone else for the five years I lived alone.What I actually would want is a physical alarm clock. With wifi (or 3G). If I do not turn it off in the mornings (sine the night is the only time I don’t have absolute control over things), it should do something. Call my phone, maybe? and then call some other preprogrammed number to a friend and then my employer. Finally it should call emergency services saying there is a problem. An alarm clock which alarms others if I don’t respond do it. It should have a clearly visible indicator when set/enabled.25 years old, type 1 diabetic for 22 years.

  3. Last saturday marked the first year I’ve been through this, since I had a surgery to remove my pancreas due to a cancer. This would help me a great deal in reconquering my sense of independence as I’ve been feeling very dependent on my mother through my recovery. In fact, I think you just gave me a great reason to begin learning some Android app dev. 🙂

  4. Unfortunately it looks like the Android Telephony API don’t allow for pre-recorded messages on calls (or anything like that) probably in a kind of “we don’t want phone-spamming apps here”. SMS messages are easy-peasy to implement, though.

  5. I’m not sure if I can say I’m glad to see there are other people interested in the same problem and trying to get to a solution, as it means there are more people who are in this difficult situation… but at least it should give us strength in numbers.Luca, the trick for the calls is “simple”: you either implement SIP and set up a provider with that, or the app needs to be connected to an Internet service to handle the emergency call…Maybe I should talk to a friend of mine who’s a VoIP provider and ask him how feasible it is to set up a service like that with enrolling (so that you cannot just put any phone number and spam whoever). Maybe it’s the kind of open app that could be written and published and some providers could provide as a free service for the publicity.I guess more to follow…

  6. Yesterday I implemented push escalation notifications from our Nagios system using pushover ( reading the API description, I saw that they support different message priorities. The highest one (emergency) even requires that the user acknowlegde them (….With a bit of code it should be easily possible to write a solution which does more or less what you want/need.

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