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Sandy's Corner

My First CGM Experience


Ok, I admit it. I wasn’t initially keen on the idea of wearing a sensor. After all, I was testing 6-10x per day anyway, and thought I was doing pretty well, so how much use would all this extra data be in exchange for the hassle of having to wear another “thing” stuck to my body? I had no idea what to expect, but given that we were bringing the Dexcom G4® CGM system to market in Canada, I knew I had to give it a try.


I was totally surprised that the sensor insertion didn’t hurt (a good thing), but mentally, I had a hard time not obsessing over all the additional data and what it means about my diabetes control – and my prognosis for the future. I was shocked and frustrated at how quickly my blood sugar would rise following a normal meal, and how slow it was to come down afterwards. I succumbed to “rage bolusing” — continuing to add insulin when I wouldn’t see the blood sugar coming down. And then…the inevitable crash, 2 hours later.


I was completely unprepared for my reaction to seeing what Type 1 diabetes is, front and center. It was now at the forefront of my attention all day long. It took me a few weeks to learn to not look at the trend graphs every few minutes, and to not judge myself for whatever it was I saw. Type 1 diabetes is hard, and we’re dealing with an imperfect science, and insulin that is hardly “rapid” in its onset.


I had made a decision early on in life that I wasn’t going to organize my life around my diabetes management, but rather that I was going to live my life on my terms, and manage my diabetes around my life instead. So seeing just how much and how often my blood sugars were out of range was more than a little disconcerting. I didn’t like it, but seeing it made me try harder.


So far, using CGM has indeed taught me a few things:


  1. Food breaks down quickly, so pre-bolusing before meals, even just for a portion of the total amount, helps to prevent the post-meal BG spike.
  2. Insulin is slow, and it’s still working a few hours after it is administered. Even though I knew this intellectually, I appreciate the truth of this in a whole new way now.
  3. I do appreciate the peace of mind of knowing which direction my blood glucose is heading at any given point in time, and how quickly. It’s still Type 1 and I still go low sometimes, but at least I have a warning now and can start to manage it sooner than the “numb tongue, foggy head, full body sweat” scenario.


I’m now using the Animas® Vibe® with Dexcom’s CGM technology integrated right in the pump, and I must say that I’ve gotten quite used to the idea of wearing a sensor and seeing colour-coded graphs and arrows that show me exactly what’s happening at a glance.


And the best part, in my opinion? I love having the Insulin On Board (IOB) right on the CGM Data screen! That feature alone has made a world of difference for me in terms of making quick decisions on whether I need to test and do a correction bolus, or whether I just need to relax and let the IOB keep working.


Overall, I’d say that continuous glucose monitoring can be a fantastic addition to the toolbox of diabetes management, but more important than that – it’s important to go into it with eyes wide open, and not expecting that wearing a sensor is somehow going to magically “fix it”. I am still the same person with Type 1 after CGM as I was before CGM – nothing has actually changed, only I have more information to make better judgment calls moment-to-moment.


And the learning continues!


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