Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Human with "upgrades"

Since I've been on the pump I've been in relatively close contact with my Endo nurse practitioner, Julie. We exchange emails at least a couple times a month. I send her my latest blood sugars and we talk about patterns and trends and (if we need to) do some tweaking.

My blood sugars have been pretty good overall except when I'm at work. I have a very unusual work schedule and it pretty much guarantees unpredictable blood sugars. Because I don't have a "normal" schedule it's been relatively difficult for Julie and I to find patterns in my blood sugars. So she asked if I'd be interested in wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) so that we can get a better picture. And I was game. I've never really thought that a CGM was for me but I was interested to see what all the fuss was about. Plus it was a nice (free!) way to trial a CGM if I ever was considering getting one!

When I went to my next appointment I was told that a Dexcom rep had been trying to convince the office to trial one of their CGMs and I was going to be the guinea pig. Fine by me! Since I'm on the Animas Ping, I wouldn't be able to wear the MiniMed CGM anyway and I was hoping to trial the Dexcom since (if I were to get one) that would be the CGM I would pick.

I have to admit it was better than what I was expecting. I feel like I've heard tons of stories of it being a royal pain, constantly needing to be calibrated, always alarming, never being accurate, being finicky about when and where you can place a sensor . . . yada, yada, yada. I was nervous that it would be annoying, cumbersome and barely helpful. But really it wasn't bad.

I wore it for a week and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to use and calibrate. I still tested my blood sugar often but it was nice to see trends and to catch the highs and lows before they really became issues. I really appreciated the data it gave me at night, when I would otherwise sleep through bad numbers and never know about them! The first couple of days I thought the alarms would drive me nuts, especially at night. But once I tweaked the settings, they got much better. For example, I'm pretty aware of my lows and don't really need to be BEEEEP'd at if my blood sugar is 70 or 80. So I just turned the low alarm off. (No matter what the Dexcom will alarm if you go below 55 mg/dl.)

I ended up pulling it on the 6th day. (Dexcom sensors can technically last 7 days but most people say that they get more like 10 days out of them.) It's a fairly large site, especially compared to my pump site, and it was getting uncomfortable (itchy, red, etc). Plus, I was getting annoyed that it was taking up valuable real estate on my abdomen.

The Dexcom rep was awesome and gave me the software disc and cableso that I could download my numbers to my computer without having to wait for my next appointment to go over the data. So I was able to download my numbers immediately and took them to Julie a couple of days later. I really like the format of the Dexcom software and how it shows you your data and I ended up getting some great information from wearing it. After the trial, I was seriously considering getting one, if for no other reason than a possible future pregnancy. I mean, as tight as I'd like my numbers to be, a CGM would be invaluable, especially at night when I go 8 hours in a row without testing.

So anyway, that's the overview on my Dexcom trial. I definitely came out on the other side with my mind changed. I still don't think that CGMs are all wonderful and sunshine and rainbows or that they are for me all the time. But I can definitely see their value now, where before they seemed a little worthless and overhyped.

But there was one more aspect of my experience that I haven't gone over. The robot factor. It's something I've heard people talk about in the DOC for a while. How, with a pump or CGM or both, they can start feeling mechanical and robot-like. So this last bit is the story of my husband's reaction to that idea.

So the first night I have the CGM sensor in place, I'm laying in bed showing Brad all my new gadgets. I've explained what a CGM is and what all the pieces do and I started telling him how I've heard other DOC-ers complain that they feel robotic wearing all this stuff. I go on to say that I never really identified with that feeling until I looked down and saw my belly covered in pump sites and sensors. So told him that I did kinda feel like a robot.

"You'd really be more of a cyborg," was his response.


And with this question I knew I was getting myself in trouble: "What's the difference?"

He was grinning at this point and he told me, "Well, a robot is all machine. But a cyborg is like a human with upgrades!"

Thanks, honey, I love you too.



  1. Damn! I should have gone with the Dexcom! LOL!

    On a side husband calls me an alien...alive but not human :) I love it!

  2. Cyborg sounds awesome :)

    Trust a guy to think of that :)

  3. Aren't husbands full of wonderful words of wisdom? I thought this bit was particularly amusing! ;-)