Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a pretty awesome concept. CGM is also a faintly daunting prospect, having an avalanche of data made available from your type 1 body, 24 hours a day.
I went into this trial with a very open mind, optimistic that it would be useful, but also suspecting Lauren might not like having an extra device on her body after a couple of days, or we might be driven crazy by all the extra info and alarms.
After a week?
I’m in love.
Bugger private school – I’ll keep working just to pay for sensors. The reasons aren’t medical – they’re emotional. It’s been hard to put a price on the peace of mind we’ve unexpectedly felt this week. OK… I lie. I can put a very specific price on it, but only because we’re the LUCKY first family to experience this mishap on a trial. The benefit for you is that I’m about to remind you why you don’t let your kids take your mobile phone (or the Dexcom receiver that looks very much like a slim mobile phone) to the bathroom.
So, here is one of the cons of the Dexcom receiver, given a real-life scenario for you by our accident-prone family.
WARNING: The receiver isn’t waterproof, and doesn’t like swimming. Particularly in the toilet.
If you are us, you will go for your hospital appointment to be all set up with your Dex and the receiver, and head downstairs to the hospital cafeteria. On the way out you will pass the hospital bathrooms where the receiver will slip from Lauren’s pocket, into the toilet. Before thinking twice, you will throw your hand straight in to retrieve it. The receiver costs $910. It’s on loan from the hospital, and is now full of toilet water. You will try the bag of rice. You will try the air conditioner in the car, but the receiver is dead, dead, dead. Inside, just a little bit, you will also die, die, die.
The AMSL rep was great about it, and was on the phone straight away trying to track us down a replacement. Four hours later Lauren was hooked up again, (for a reduced price with an ex-demo model).
Moving on from that expensive blip, the rest of the trial went without a hitch. I’ll take you through the 10 days (over 2 posts) – with Lauren’s thoughts and pros and cons at the end if you’re comparing options yourself. I won’t go into how it all works in depth because I’m no expert. I know the basics:
- it measures subcutaneous interstitial fluid
- it gives a reading every 5 minutes which is transmitted wirelessly to a receiver (whether that be the Animas Pump, or the standalone receiver).
- It doesn’t replace the need for finger pricks, but very helpfully gives the blood glucose trend (whether rising or falling) as well as current reading.
So, here comes my totally non-expert take on what worked and didn’t work for us, and why we’ll likely be going further with CGM as a diabetes management option.
The first 24 hours are not hugely accurate, as the sensor insertion causes the release of white blood cells which interfere somewhat with the readings. By this afternoon though, Lauren’s teacher said they were alerted to a few hypos Lauren didn’t know about, and they checked by finger prick and treated. Cheering!
Unexpectedly, Lauren herself seems different, in a good way. She seems relaxed, and more happy. It’s partly the excitement of having a new ‘toy’, but she also seems more at ease, not worrying about lows. She’s very tuned in to the alarm and responds immediately. School managed to stop a low today, noticing downward trending arrows at 4.8, and they intervened with a snack and bolus.
Speaking to Lauren at bedtime for her thoughts, she said ‘It’s just a little bit less than awesome’. Not quite awesome because diabetes is still there all the time, but she said she loves the alarms for highs and lows. She’s not feeling her hypos… which for a second bothered me, but then I realised is AWESOME, because she’s switched off from thinking about diabetes. She said she usually worries about hypos a lot, especially at school. Obviously a bit of a balance between hypo awareness and ‘switching off’ is ideal, but it’s early days, and I love this new relaxed Lauren.
I’m also feeling less tense in the evening. The kind of tense you didn’t know you were feeling until you’re not feeling it any more. Instead of wondering what her number is around 8 pm, and whether she might be dropping or going crazy high after an unpredictable meal, we just peek at the trace arrows and see the current number, and which way she’s heading. Ahhhh. Otherwise, if we’re completely caught up watching Vikings, the alarm tells us to hop to it. No need to sit and guess, then grumble about who tests and have the other return with a ‘she’s FINE’. Please tell me this isn’t only type 1 marital bliss in my home…?
The sensor is already quite itchy on her skin. Fingers crossed she can last the week….
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