Everyone sing with me:
“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad, I missed you so bad, I missed you so, so bad…”
And that is how we feel about V’s continuous blood glucose (CGM) monitor Dexcom, or “Deckie” as she named it. It’s a “he”, by the way, and he looks good in pink.
First, let me explain briefly how it works. Dexcom is comprised of three parts: a receiver, a transmitter and a sensor. Receiver is the device that displays the information and has the controls. It is pictured above. Transmitter is the hexbug looking thing that attaches to the sensor.
And finally, the sensor gets inserted subcutaneously.
The insertion is a multi-step process. First, the sensor is attached to the skin with adhesive tape while it is connected to the applicator.
Then, using the applicator we push down the plunger, which inserts the sensor and instantly removes the needle, so only the sensor stays inside the body.Then we pull the applicator out and attach the transmitter.
After a two-hour start-up period, the sensor starts transmitting real-time BG readings every 5 minutes. Magic.
Deckie has to be calibrated at least twice daily and does not replace finger pricking. V still has to check her blood sugar when she needs to dose insulin or correct a high or a low. And no, CGM does not communicate with her pump. Not yet, at least. But even though its capacity is somewhat limited, it’s worth its weight in gold.
First and foremost, it alerts us to highs and lows. The latter one is especially priceless. Sometimes V does not feel she’s low, or does not feel it until she is REALLY low (50s or 40s). We set the low alarm to 75 so that we can catch them early and act more proactively. It’s given us a particular peace of mind at night, knowing that if there is a problem we will be alerted. The high alerts are particularly important to trouble-shoot pump malfunction or carb miscalculations.
Secondly, CGM shows us trends. It tells us if BG is stable, going up or down, and how fast. Having that information, combined with real-time glucose levels, allows us to act quicker and smarter. I’ll let you in on a secret: sometimes we don’t check BG and go with the CGM readings to make decisions. It is more likely to happen during exercise. When we see that V is dropping, we act on it to prevent a low. When she starts out on a high side and rising, we don’t decrease her basal (background) insulin and let her “burn off” her high. We may only test once and rely on CGM for the duration of the activity.
Before Deckie came into our life, we saw mostly just mealtime and bedtime numbers, and some before and after numbers. Once we got the CGM we started to see all the in-betweens. How V spikes after breakfast. (Ugh. From 120 to 320 in 1.5 hours, seriously?) How most nights her BG holds steady. (Sweet relief!) How strenuous physical activity can drop her from high 200’s into 70’s in under 1 hour. (Yikes!) At first we were practically obsessed about checking the numbers, glancing at the receiver all.the.time. Then the novelty wore off and sometimes we will barely look at it. But we’ve quickly grown fond of and maybe a little dependent on our trusty Deckie. With the CGM we are better able to prevent and minimize the lows, reduce the highs, make better day-to-day decisions, and sleep more soundly at night. And now with the addition of Share, we are able to watch V’s CGM readings on our phones while she stays overnight with her grandparents.
And to think that at some point we thought we did not need it? Such nonsense. We did not know what we were missing and how much we were missing it.
“Before you came into our life, we missed you so bad, we missed you so bad, we missed you so, so bad…”
And now that Call Me Maybe is stuck in your head as much as it is in mine, I’ll leave you with this hilarious parody that was produced at the diabetes camp that V will be attending this summer. You are welcome.