Not For the Faint of Heart

I went to the doctor recently and was scolded for my a1c (average of my overall blood sugar levels over a 3 month period) being too high… I blame crossfit but more on that later. I was told I need to keep my CGM (continuous glucose monitor) on for two weeks and then go back to see if it has gone down… Unfortunately I have been having major issues with the CGM and I feel like showing you all a gross display of bloody pictures. If you are faint of heart I suggest you leave this page immediately… If it wasn’t my own blood I’d probably pass out in heap…

20130414-175310.jpg

20130414-175300.jpg

20130414-175321.jpg

I don’t even know why there was such a bad bruise… I was actually pretty shocked to discover it after I removed the CGM and saw it. Yuck. That stinkin’ sensor cost $40 and only lasts for 3-7 days so it really really sucks when they don’t work the first day you put it in.

Anndd… The sensor I had in prior was fine until I went to crossfit the day of insertion and sweated my face off, because when I got home and went to shower the sensor was completely out… The sweat made it not stick to me anymore, I suppose. That’s $80 worth of sensors in a 2 day period. Son. Of. A. Monkey’s. Uncle!! Does any type 1’s with a CGM have any good taping suggestions I could use to prevent this from happening in the future? Cause, seriously, $40 is a lot of money to be tossing down the drain for this poor gal…

Advertisements

My Pros and Cons of the CGM

It’s 2 am on a cold blustery night. I’m snug as a bug in a rug with my down comforter tucked up to my chin, my 6 pillows lying in wait around me ready to cushion my head in whichever way I decide to sleep and all this on top of my pillow-top bed that’s basically the best thing ever. Life is good. Dreaming the dreams, keeping it real. Don’t have to wake up for work for another 5 hours. Woot woot. Pure bliss. Oh but wait…something is insistently beeping. What is that? I try to ignore it, but it is gradually getting louder and louder until I can’t take it anymore. (Insert cuss words of reader’s choice)

What could possibly be so annoying as to wake me from my precious, blissful sleep, you wonder? The continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A loud, annoying, wonderful invention that makes me want to both leap for joy and stab someone at the same time.  Stab? That’s kind of extreme….maybe I’ll change that to punch a wall. Yeah, less violence… Punch a wall. Hard. Then stab it. Whoah whoah… deep breaths. I’m good now. Lightly tap the wall in just a slight bit of anger and that’s it. No stabbing.

For those of you who don’t know a CGM is something that you pray your insurance covers (because it is exxpppppeeeennnnssssiiiivvveeee) and it attaches to your body sort of like the insulin pump without the “beeper” portion. It then tests your fluids (some sort of fluids that is right under the skin) and tells you your glucose levels every 5 minutes and wirelessly tells your pump what’s happening. That’s a pretty unintelligent and generic answer…look it up if you want more info. There are different kinds that work different ways and I am only talking about my mini med CGM.

cgm and pump

I’ve written about the CGM before, but it was mostly me complaining about not getting it to work right. I wanted to write one that was more legit. Too legit, too legit to quit. Hammer time.

Cons:

The alarms – They go off constantly. People probably think I have some sort of bomb attached to me. The alarm will go off when your going high, going low, losing signal, need to check your blood sugar for calibration. Some days it feels like it is beeping at me every 3 seconds. I tend to ignore alarms and then they just keep going off, so part of this con is operator error. The worst is at night though as I have explained above. I love sleep. I hate anything that interrupts it. I’ll stab it.

The beeper – I’ve mentioned this in my pump cons before. People think I have a beeper. Really? It’s 2013…you know me, I’m not a doctor. I do accounting…

”Oh, the taxes are due?”

“Hurry up! Page Emily on her beeper! Stat!”

Use some sense people.  Do beepers come with tubes attached that disappear under a persons clothes? I mean seriously.…..whoah…I’m not annoyed by it or anything….clearly…haha. The point of this rant is that because the CGM is constantly feeding my pump information about what kind of shenanigans my blood levels are up to, I am constantly looking at my pump in fascination checking my levels and making it more noticeable to people than the times before I had the CGM when I only had to look at my pump when I ate and needed to bolus or correct a high. In the past month I have had 5 people ask me if I had a beeper….that’s quite an increase from the once or twice a year I used to get the question.

Pros:

Awesomeness – There is a sense of calm and control when you know your blood sugar is dropping or raising and you can correct accordingly.

Graphs – You can see a graph of your blood sugars over a 3 hour, 6 hour, 12 hour and 24 hour period. I just think it’s cool to look at.

Drinking – I know that Type 1’s shouldn’t drink alcohol, but seriously, it’s going to happen. Alcohol (at least with me) can take your blood sugar high and then drop it real fast. If you are a little tipsy (ever’body in the club gettin’ tipsy) it is nice to have the CGM and actually see when your levels start to drop. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t gotten low yet, but I could see it was dropping so I ate a few crackers and all was good. Crisis averted.

Exercise – Same as drinking….you can see when your levels are dropping. In the past high intensity work outs were scary to me because I was afraid of what my glucose levels would do, but the CGM gives me more comfort and confidence to get the job done and not worry about what my blood sugar is doing. Booyah.

Welp, that’s all I got for now. I have songs stuck in my head that are driving me mad and preventing me from thinking clearly. Good day. I said good day!

Trials and Tribulations of the Continuous Glucose Monitor

The initial viewing of this needle scared me, but the actual insertion is less painful than pump insertion.

This one has been a long time coming. I have had a continuous glucose monitor for months now and I have not yet written anything about it. This one will not be interesting to any of my non-diabetic friends, and will probably be free of any crazy humor so feel free to scroll down and locate a different post. Perhaps a “Cat by Any Other Name.” Good day, and thanks for stopping by.

Now, back to the continuous glucose monitor (CGM)…. I had many struggles with this little rascal and I’m hoping this post might help a fellow type 1 diabetic comrade find answers to their questions. I’m going on the assumption that whomever reads this knows the basic workings and terminology that goes with the CGM.

The Frustrations:

I went into this thinking the CGM was going to be this amazing magical thing that solved all the problems of the universe. I was wrong. While, it was and is an amazing, magical thing it definitely has its fair share of tribulations… at least for me. Everyone is different.

The first time I got it inserted I was looking at my pump in wonder waiting for the initial two hours to pass so I could enter my blood sugar, get it calibrated and get this party started. Imagine my horror when my pump screen kept popping up with “Weak Signal” and pushing my calibration time back and back. “Is this normal?” “Son of a bee sting.” “What do I do now?” “Why is this happening?” “Did I forget to lock up my house this morning?” are some of the thoughts running through my head at this time. At one point, I got it working and it spit out a few testings for 20 min then it went back to “Weak Signal” screen and the dreaded “Warm-up.” Now, mind you, this was my first day on the job, so to speak, I had no clue really what I was doing and what would become normal glitches in the process and what was uncommon and should be fixed.

In this instance it turned out that I had one of two possible problems. Either I had put it in a bad spot that had scar tissue underneath my skin due to 10 years on the pump or the CGM was “pistoning” out of my interstitial fluids (most likely). I’d like to tell you I figured this all out right off the bat, but it took me months to nail down a more accurate process.

What happened was I got discouraged and gave up on it then I would go back to it later have a good use of it and on the next insertion it be back to the same darn isues. This went off and on until I gave in and decided to call MiniMed and speak to an extremely helpful fellow. Don’t be stubborn like me and try to figure it out on your own. Call the hotline, it’s what they are there for and everyone I have spoken with at MiniMed over the years has seemed like they legitimately care about getting you on the right path. That’s not always the case when it comes to customer service reps these days…like Mediacom…very rude reps… but that’s another story and nothing to do with diabetes.

Solution

My solution to getting my CGM working was to place it in better spots on my stomach and to use two taping methods on sticking the little sucker to me. When everything is hooked in I use a piece of Nexcare Durable cloth tape tightly over the sensor portion of the CGM, then I place a separate piece over the transmitter. After that I use IV prep 3000 that came with my CGM and place it over the whole thing.    Taping it up like this helps to prevent the “pistoning” thing to happen. I’m still in taping testing phases. I’ve run out of the IV Prep 3000 so next time I’m going to use Nexcare Tegaderm…it looks similar to the IV Prep so I shall see what happens.

This post turned out longer than I thought. I had other issues I wanted to discuss, but I’m listening to some iTunes and I feel the need to prance about my house for a bit now. I’m also coming down from a high blood sugar and my energy has kicked up a notch…Amazing how great you feel when your blood sugar is good, huh? J