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Diabetes Tool Box

By David Mendosa

Last Update: April 15, 2002

Sometimes it can be better to have less information. People often tell me that they are overwhelmed with diabetes information on huge sites like this one.

‘Parents…are often afraid…’

In this case more narrowly targeted sites like Diabetes Tool Box perform a great service. That's the philosophy of Rick Pack, who, together with his father, owns Appomattox Drug Store in Appomattox, Virginia, and Diabetic Drug Store, a commercial site that sponsors this non-commercial offshoot.

Rick and his father are both pharmacists. His father started the drug store in 1969 close to Appomattox Court House, famous for being the site where General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the Civil War. Rick owns a dairy farm that abuts the surrender site.

Diabetic Drug Store has been online since May 2000. Just after that, his mother was diagnosed with diabetes. The Diabetes Tool Box site just went live in March.

"We didn't want to have too much information, but just the content that people needed," Rick tells me. "On some of the Web sites there is so much information that you almost get lost. We put what the educators and the doctors and the people with diabetes told us they felt was most important."

I think that the best parts of the site are the six tools or calculators that it offers. Considering the site's name that is certainly appropriate, but in fact there is a lot more.

Rick developed some of the tools himself, but, like many pages on the site, several others come with permission from other sites like this one. The detailed food analyzer comes from Lifeclinic, which I reviewed here a year ago. I especially like the simple tools to convert hemoglobin A1c results to average blood glucose, to convert blood glucose levels measured in mg/DL (used in this country) to mmol/L (used in much of the rest of the world), and to calculate body mass.

The section on diabetes information currently has 15 articles. One of them is about HbA1c, for which I wrote the introduction.

Now for something completely different see the section for children. Here are quite a few games, some of which will also interest adults.

"Parents confronting this disease with a young child are often afraid, confused and frantically searching for information," Rick says. "The site offers games such as crossword puzzles and even an arcade game to make learning more fun and less frightening for the entire family."

The dictionary section is divided into two parts. The first is Diabetes Dictionary. For example, if you want to find out what the dawn phenomenon is, you can check here. The second part of the dictionary section lets you search as many as eight different databases at once.

Finally, the fifth part of the site will be a forum. As I write it is not yet available. But Rick expects it to be online very soon.

Diabetes Tool Box is well worth checking out. It won't confuse you with too many facts, but the facts it presents comprise an excellent introduction to diabetes. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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