• The Piquant Storyteller

Scientific Method Failure?

Can you really fail using the scientific method? The steps are simple enough.

  1. Ask a Question

  2. Do Background Research

  3. Construct a Hypothesis

  4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment

  5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion

  6. Communicate Your Results

Believe it or not, we use the scientific method every day. How do you know the water is the right temperature for your shower? Scientific method.

Children consciously use the scientific method more than anyone else. In 2009, when Parker was 4 years old this happened.

  1. Will the towel rack for the hand towel hold me?

  2. Shut the bathroom door to conduct research. Mom will never know if the door is shut.

  3. Hypothesis – Yes, the towel rack will hold me while I am swinging like a monkey.

  4. Grab the ring and hold on tight. What is that noise? Try again!

  5. Oops! My heart is pounding a mile a minute. Mom is opening the door. My hypothesis must have been wrong.

  6. I will communicate my results by crying really loudly.

The price of knowledge is higher than it should be sometimes. And just for fun, my mom laughed when she heard this story. She told me it was hilarious and that she lived it with me. So there's that.

The scientific method is how people make decisions. Sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong. However, it's not wrong to have a hypothesis work opposite of what we expected. Results are results regardless of plans or expectations.

It's kind of like praying. I find it interesting how often people equate desired results with answer to prayer. God answers every prayer. Sometimes the answer is no. Just because we didn't get what we wanted, doesn't mean the prayer was not answered.

I have been trying the scientific method with Patrick, my insulin pump. I have learned that continuous glucose monitoring sensors work better on the right side of my abdomen than my left side. Bizarre but true.

I've learned how to trick Patrick and the sensors. The sensors don't always work well the first day. So I've learned to "restart" the sensors on the second day. I pop off the transmitter and recharge it. Then pop it back on the sensor and tell Patrick it's a new sensor. I have to wait two hours for the sensor to warm up as if it was a new sensor. It usually works like a charm after that.

I've learned that if a sensor doesn't need to be "restarted" it will inevitably get squirrely about two days before it's scheduled to be replaced. So I'm losing a couple days of auto mode whether I'm "restarting" a sensor or not.

Auto mode can be annoying. It's like this cool club that I always hope to get into. Sometimes it decides my clothes aren't hip enough. Other times it shuns me for no reason like some hormonal teenage drama queen. It sounds ridiculous but it's true. Auto mode is a whole system that works with sensor data, my finger stick data, and the pump's programming. The sensor data and finger stick readings have to be within 30% of each other or I get triaged in safe mode.

When that happens, I have 90 minutes to get things back on track or I'm kicked out of auto mode completely. And, like I said, it can often be a discriminating club that decides my valid ID card must be a fake and I'm not worthy of reentry.

I have my issues with safe mode. Most of the time I see the gray shield of death (safe mode) is because my blood sugar is dropping low. Lower numbers mean less margin of error to be within 30%. I don't like having my blood sugar in the 200's but mathematically in the 200's there is a larger margin of error. The problem with safe mode is it gives me a safe basal rate. This is an average based off of how much basal I have received at that time of day over the last three days. Safe basal is a misnomer because if my blood sugar is low or dropping low, the last thing I need is more insulin! Every other feature on the pump - manual mode with a set basal rate, or auto mode with no basal rates but rather microboluses according to blood sugar trends checked every five minutes - those features will automatically suspend insulin delivery if my blood sugar is trending low. Safe basal my foot!

Heath always reminds me that I'm a guinea pig. I am an early adopter of this new pump technology. There are bound to be improvements in the next generation of these insulin pumps.

I have learned through trial and error. How else do we learn but through trial and error, commonly known as the scientific method?

I used to change my sensors whenever they failed. Only two lasted the full prescribed seven days. I have decided to only insert one sensor a week. No matter what. It's a great theory. But the one I put in for this week failed early. I restarted it only to have it more poorly track my blood sugars. I broke my rule and pulled it out after two days. The problem was it knicked a blood vessel or capillary or something. Not a major artery. It wasn't like a gully gusher of blood spewing across the room. I've had that happen before! But this was enough blood that it got into the sensor and it wasn't working well.

Calculating my choices, I decided not to replace the sensor. I was ready for a break from the sensors and all of Patrick's constant alarms. I have three needy children whose neediness is put to shame by Patrick. That machine! It's going to put me in an early grave. A small break would be welcome. Needed actually. You know how you send your kids to bed early for their own safety because you need a timeout? Yeah, same thing. I wanted some unfettered time away from the sensors. Plus, I was curious to see how manual mode would work after all these months.

In a nutshell, not well. I have really struggled to keep my blood sugars in range. Auto mode was much more helpful than I thought! Exercise doesn't even work as fast as I would expect. I had a salad for lunch today. Normally salads work beautifully. My blood sugars stay Eddie steady until dinner. Not this time. I tanked big time a few hours later. *sigh*

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with this newfound knowledge. Crying doesn't seem necessary. I haven't been caught testing the strength of a hand towel rack with the weight of my body. I don't know. Results are results. Apparently I need more time with sensors so Patrick can continue to learn my body. Taking sensor vacations may need to be pushed way into the future. It doesn't mean these last few days were a failure. They were a learning experience. Now I know.

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