Another Piece To The Puzzle

I started CGM last week. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, CGM stands for Continuous Glucose Monitoring, and it’s a device that measures my blood glucose levels every five minutes and communicates them with my insulin pump. In some ways, it’s the same as my FreeStyle Libre, with the exception that my FreeStyle doesn’t communicate with my pump.

Although having a device that instantly tells my pump whether it needs to suspend basal delivery because of a low and maintain a better percentage of “time in range,” it stands to reason that a more complicated device will theoretically have more issues. And I have found this to be true with CGM. The FreeStyle Libre has been good to me overall, providing little in the ways of problems and interfacing with my phone for a quick, easy means of checking my blood sugars.

When I started the insulin pump in early 2015, I was resistant to CGM. Hell, I was resistant to the pump itself, but the medical professionals through my work kept “encouraging” it, and since they were footing the bill I figured, why not? And no, that isn’t a brag about the fact my pump was covered by my medical insurance. I’m well aware that most people don’t have that benefit, so I’m grateful rather than bragging.

But given the potential violence of my work, I felt that it wouldn’t be ideal to have a device hanging off my gut, around the clock. I also didn’t want to feel tethered to a machine, having grown up watching my brother hooked to machines all his life. I conceded to try the pump, but I refused the CGM as it would be a second module attached to the body and I felt as though one was enough. I mean, come on! Life with Diabetes is difficult enough without turning myself into a cyborg, am I right?

Hello, CGM! Welcome to the party! (Pointing out my freckle is not necessary, thank you!)

My endocrinologist did it right; sneaking the FreeStyle Libre into my life, calling it the “poor man’s CGM” (although it’s far from being cheap, by any means) and allowing me to get comfortable with the prospect of a second device on my person. I have been using FreeStyle for about two years now, and with the advent of my new pump that I started mid-March (Presenting, The Medtronic 670G), I decided to stop being such a stubborn princess and try the CGM that my pump is designed for. (Don’t get any ideas, I’m the only one allowed to call me a princess… And maybe my wife…)

So, here are the problems… Because this is me, and of course there are problems… The first glucose sensor I installed at my pump training failed within hours. Either from a faulty sensor or from scar tissue (which I’ll be covering the day after tomorrow) we don’t know. But it was a pain in the ass, nonetheless. Installing the sensor is tedious, involving more steps than refilling the insulin pump AND using enough adhesive to make Red Green‘s duct tape jealous. (If you don’t know who that is, click on the link and I apologize for aging myself so severely)

This happened last Monday. I was frustrated and I already felt as though the CGM would cause more problems than it was worth, so I shut the option off on my pump. I’m also a bit old school and it takes me a while to put the fate of my well-being in a machine I’m unfamiliar with (Not today, SkyNet!). On Tuesday, I went cycling with a friend and felt it wasn’t a great day to re-install, so I went without it. On Wednesday, I realized that I was actively avoiding it, so I installed a new sensor and started the whole thing up.

I also needed to demo the installation for my wife, who will be the one helping me install it on my tricep, should I decided to use that as a potential site (cue the naughty nurse jokes, here.) Here’s the thing: it’s been helpful. I’m eating an entire murder of crows admitting this, but having the ability to simply glance at my pump screen and see my trends and know what I may be currently sitting at has been nice. Also, my pump is set to automatically suspend my basal rates if I hit 4.0 mmol/L, making it a whole lot safer for me at night. Now, I just need to see how the device will hold up to extreme exercise or cycling, and how I’ll handle a punch to the gut when I return to karate, for the jury to fully have a verdict.

I guess my point behind all of this, besides pointing out how stubborn I am, is that although we don’t have a cure for Diabetes yet, technology has carried us lightyears beyond where we were in the early 80’s when I was diagnosed. When I think about the brick of a glucometer I used to carry around, only testing my blood once a day, “eat no sugar” being my only mantra and the fact that I was excused from most if not all sports due to the fact that “Diabetes makes it dangerous to play sports…” Pffft… what bullshit! If I only knew then what I know now. But I digress…

My point is that we’re getting there. Different technologies are at least making Diabetes manageable in ways it never could be, before. Will we have a cure someday? Like a significant percentage of the Canadian population, I sincerely hope so. I just don’t know if it’ll be within my lifetime. In the meantime, I’m well on my way to becoming a cyborg. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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