Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dexcom CGM and I.

Just 'secured' my Dexcom continuous glucose monitoring sensor in place with Bear Brand masking tape. My set's positioned, this time, on my left upper abdomen. I alternate between left and right. My aim to to get 14 days' use from one 'sensor set'. I've been CGM-ing now for nearly a year. (Just in case you didn't know, sensors read interstitial blood glucose and they're injected just under the skin.)

Ideally I'd change sets when a session expires at 7 days cos the sticking tape starts to lift. However, these mothers cost $80 AUD each, non-refundable on NDSS - National Diabetes Supply Scheme - or medical insurance. (Given how indispensable these sets are, that's a pisser.)

I've been securing my sets with expensive Tegaderm skin preparation 'ovals', cutting two of these these into halves to secure the edges of the lifting tape which is supposed to hold the set in place. (This is difficult to describe, btw, given it's a 'specialist' topic.) But while Tegaderm sticks valiantly to skin it doesn't get much of a grip on the tape. Consequently the tape pops out from under the Tegaderm while I'm showering meaning I need a new set. I've been managing about ten days per set using Tegaderm to secure sets, fewer if I go swimming, which I rarely do.

Now I'm giving the cheaper masking tape a go. I've had a trial piece stuck on my sensitive inner forearm for the past 24 hours to see how it stood up to the rigours of domestic life and whether it caused skin irritation. Passed both tests. Had to give it quite a rip to remove it too. That bodes well.

Continuous glucose monitoring is expensive. However, I budget for it because, for me, it's brilliant. It has greatly reduced my hypo anxiety. Prior to CGM I would do finger prick blood glucose checks about ten times a day, including during the night. Couldn't even consider sleep unless my BG was above 6mmol. (When I was on injections, prior to insulin pumping, I couldn't settle if my BG was under 8mmol, and even then I'd wake every hour to check. That was bad.)

The CGM alarms if my BG drops below 5mmol. This wakes me given I'm a light sleeper, probably due to 33 years of living the diabetic dream.

Hypo anxiety has also disappeared from my teaching life. I'm now totally focused on what I'm supposed to be doing in class, rather than teaching in a state of subliminal panic, which tended to raise my BG but didn't stop me second-guessing whether or not I was hypo.

The knowledge that the CGM will alarm if my BG drops below 5mmol, or if it's dropping too quickly or if it's too high, has allowed me to live more normally, albeit with two different sets injected and plastered on my belly. Not a good look but at my age in my circumstances I'm past caring.

Meanwhile I hope that with Bear Brand masking tape in place I can get another seven days out of this sensor.

I wrote the above post pre-shower. The Bear Brand masking tape came off in the first wash. Ha ha.