It’s been almost two months since Caleb had his first DexCom insertion. Thankfully, the learning curve of CGM is not nearly as great as that of pumping. Plus, if something goes wrong with the transmitter or sensor or even receiver, there is not as much panic as when something goes wrong with an insulin pump (like ripping it off the first night because you completely forgot about it). You’re not cutting off life support after all.
So the transition to CGM is much more subtle than the transition to pumping. That was a relief.
We have had a couple of bumps. For nights on end, it would just not work. It literally seemed to go to sleep when Caleb went to sleep and wake up when Caleb woke up. With some help from fellow DexCom users, that was resolved. The receiver works great when it’s in the bed with Caleb. Not so great on the nightstand or windowsill. We had a receiver go kaput. We’ve had a couple of off sensors – one just complete fail. DexCom replaced them.
But otherwise. No real issues. It’s kind of “plug and go”. Our training consisted of watching the nurse do Caleb’s first insertion. Oh, and I read the manual.
CGM has had an immediate impact in several ways.
I was instantly more relaxed. We had pizza that first night and I wasn’t on edge wondering if I got the initial bolus right or if the extended bolus would cause him to go low. I could watch the changes in Caleb’s BG as they occurred. But on the flip side, I get stressed as I watch the BG rise. And when it continues to rise despite corrections, it’s downright maddening.
Because the blindfold is off, I could see for certain what I always suspected. Caleb’s blood sugar was often rising significantly within the first hour after he ate. It came back down at the two hour mark and I saw the happy in-range BG we typically see with fingersticks, but now I knew for sure what was happening in between. Frankly, it was depressing. His graphs looked like the lie detector charts of a big fat liar. I mean, serious pants on fire. It wasn’t surprising, but there had been comfort in dealing with the ten or twelve points in time and just ignoring the rest.
This new knowledge is power. I was able to make basal changes or adjust the time of a prebolus making immediate impacts. Caleb’s chart looked more truthful right away.
CGM provides another form of relief – during the times when I, his diabetes manager, am separated from him. Caleb has a great support system at school, but now there is an added safety net. Should he not feel a low coming on, there is a plan B. Another voice buzzing from his hip that might notice a low before he does. This applies to other times too – like after-school activities or the rigors of Walking Club before school on Wednesdays. We have a little more freedom; a little less stress.
In general, there are times where we simply have information that we would not otherwise have; times when we do not have to stop, open up his PDM case and go through the whole exercise of a fingerstick. A quick peek and we have a sense of what to do. We’ve either eliminated the wonder or saved the inconvenience of an extra BG check.
And here is my favorite thing about CGM: I love, love, love the directional arrows.
Directional arrows make all the difference in the world to me. If a regular blood sugar meter could tell the direction of blood sugar levels, even with just 10 points in time each day, that would be a huge improvement. If Caleb is at school and the nurse calls me with an unusual situation, she will tell me his BG from the finger stick and the direction of the CGM. This can change the course of action from that if only the BG was available. If I had known the direction of Caleb’s BG that night after eating pasta at the restaurant, I KNOW we would have avoided that low. I would have seen “121” and double arrows down. That is so much more meaningful than just “121”.
The last enhancement worthy of mention is nighttime. It’s a little less grueling. Looking at the CGM is significantly easier in the middle of the night than inserting a test strip into the PDM, poking a hole in Caleb’s toe and (often pop-eyed) trying to align that little half circle with the drop of blood. Some nights I am so out of it, with little depth perception, that I am dabbing a blood-free part of his toe waiting for it to register. I still have to do all that when there are out of range BGs, but the “just make sure” checks are much more seamless.
So here we are. We were reluctant to start. Underwhelmed when we began. We are starting to adapt.