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My Decision to Begin Using a Continuous Glucose Monitor

By Karen Graffeo

Guest Blogger

Posted:  9/3/2013 3:52 PM

Tags:

When I made the leap from multiple daily injections to using a pump more than five years ago, it was a tough decision for me. Last year I wrote a post about the fears that held me back for so long and why I’m so glad I finally overcame them. But after I had been pumping for six months I decided to add a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) to the mix, and that decision was quite an easy one for me. The contributing factor was simple, and it’s still the main reason I take very few breaks from my CGM – I stopped feeling low blood sugars.

I clearly remember the exact moment I decided it was time to try a CGM. I was in Louisiana for my uncle’s funeral. Travel always makes my blood sugar more volatile, and this trip had a lot of stress and emotion that messed things up even more. The day of the services was a long one that ended at my cousin’s house with a large buffet of Southern food prepared by members of their church group. That evening my husband and I were resting back at our hotel and I felt a little bit queasy. I figured it was due to the long somber day and the wonderful Louisiana cuisine that my New England stomach wasn’t accustomed to. I decided to just do my pre-bed blood sugar check and try to get some sleep. I was very surprised when my meter flashed back a blood sugar of 29! It scared me so much to realize that my blood sugar was under 30 and my only symptom was a slight bit of nausea, and I knew it was time to take action to prevent this from ever happening again. As soon as we returned home I called my endocrinologist and we put the wheels in motion to add a CGM to my regime.

Hypoglycemic unawareness is still the main reason you’ll find that I rarely take a break from wearing my CGM, but I’ve found it helps me in other ways too.

• For example, about one week each month, hormones randomly make my overnight blood sugar skyrocket.  My CGM alerts me to this by waking me up so I can check my blood sugar and correct instead of just waking up to find my fasting sugar is in the high 200s.

• I find that the information on my CGM screen makes me feel more secure because I can tell which way my blood sugar is heading in instances such as before bed, before exercise and before driving.  After all, the number on my meter might be good for before bed if I know my blood sugar is stable or trending upward, but that same number might mean I need a snack if I see that I’m trending down.

• I also believe that my CGM plays a big part in keeping me at my A1C goal for the last five years, because the CareLink reports give my endocrinologist all sorts of information that helps him tweak my pump settings when needed. 

Sure, I’ll admit, there are times when I’m happy to take a day or two off from the alarms and information overload a CGM can bring. But soon I’m longing to pop in a fresh sensor and have my safety net and blood sugar crystal ball back in place.

If you wear a CGM too, what are the benefits you’ve found it gives you? Do you wear it all the time, or do you like to take breaks here and there?

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

For more information, please visit: www.medtronicdiabetes.com/importantsafetyinformation.

Comments

Kathy

Posted on Thu Sep 05 11:26:35 GMT 2013

I found the continuous monitor to be a very useful tool in controlling my blood sugar. It was nice knowing what direction I was going instead of just a number. It also confirmed some things that I suspected. Exercise lowers blood sugar. Breakfast is traumatic to blood sugar. I only wish that it was a bit more accurate at times.

Jeff

Posted on Sat Sep 07 05:12:42 GMT 2013

Just started CGM... and it is a considerably larger adjustment than the pump. Have had issues with a sensor, confusion over calibration, etc. When it works, it's great :) But it is a decided learning curve. Sitting here now with that dreaded "3 hour warmup" and needing sleep... but knowing the beeping will soon follow...

Jayne Mircica

Posted on Mon Sep 09 00:18:13 GMT 2013

Having my CGM has so vastly improved my control that I feel comfortable claiming that it has truly altered my entire life.

Despite the fact that I've worn a pump for over 20 years - and believe me, my pump is the only reason that I have ZERO complications even though I've had diabetes for 47 years, since I'm 7 - it is still tough to maintain good control because I am really sensitive to stress. As an active partner in an advertising agency (and let's not even talk about my three "grown" children and husband!), fluctuating stress levels are part of my every day life.

The morning might start with a BS of 110, and after being on the phone for an hour it can easily shoot up to 250+! This is with no food, just pure adrenaline - so my past a1c numbers were fairly unimpressive. Enter my CGM ...

The moment my BS starts to climb I know to start treating it. This is usually before any alarm actually goes off - I look at the readings periodically as I'm working to stay ahead of it. If you think that seems annoying to do, it is MUCH easier than suddenly realizing I don't feel well and having to take a break until my BS comes down and I can function again.

This not-so-minor miracle carries over to all aspects of my life - travel, driving, shopping, dog walking, working out ... everything! - and it's now rare for my BS to go super far in either direction before I get to prevent the low/high.

I've always lived my life doing everything I choose to do - I refuse to let diabetes define who i am or what I can do - but I've never been willing to sacrifice my health and well-being, either. My CGM has made it much easier for me to continue to live this way.

Oh - I never take breaks from it, feel completely lost without it!

Naomi

Posted on Mon Sep 09 16:21:06 GMT 2013

Jeff, to help you with your learning curve you might be interested in the resources available on our website at www.medtronicdiabetes.com/support. In the meantime, I’ll have someone from my team reach out to you to try to help you.

Jayne, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration and I’m so glad to hear that you are doing so well on insulin pump therapy and the CGM!

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