Saturday, 18 January 2014

I'm a robot


"I'm a robot, I'm a robot!" I shouted as I ran around the lounge, lifting up my top and showing off my stomach. My partner and mum ignored me and carried on chatting.

"I. Am. A. Robot." I said to my dog in my best robot voice, whilst attempting to do the robot dance.

The dog walked past me...

Earlier that day I'd been to see my consultant for a review of my blood sugars. After experiencing a nasty hypo just before New Years Eve, I was feeling quite anxious and had lots of questions to ask him. Looking at my blood glucose meter we could see that in the 2 weeks running up to the appointment 22% of my readings were hypos. Not good. 

Dr C asked if I'd like to wear a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring System) for 3 weeks to pick up patterns of low blood sugars (meaning we could adjust my basal or bolus) and to allow me to catch any highs or lows before they hit. It would mean having another bit of kit attached to me, but that didn't bother me at all. I was used to Iain the pump being attached to my tummy, and the CGM didn't look like it would cause any wardrobe issues or discomfort. 

I jumped at the chance!

In the past I've been loaned a closed CGM which is worn for a week and the data is then downloaded, but the user can't see any readings whilst the CGM is on. They're handy for looking at patterns after using them, but that's it really. 

So for 3 weeks I was a robot and I absolutely loved it. I could see when my blood sugars were going high or low or when they were steady. I felt so much more confident when I was eating because I could see the effect that the food, and the insulin I took for it, was having on my blood sugars. I didn't need to test my blood sugars when I got that low or high feeling, I could simply look at the screen and confirm what my sugars were, then act accordingly. For the first week I felt so much happier and content simply due to the confidence the CGM provided me with. Not only that but at times I felt that I didn't have diabetes any more, because I felt much more in control! Even when I was struck down with a cold during weeks 2 and 3 and my sugars were as high as a kite I could at least see what they were doing and make some informed changes based on the information I had.




The best part... I only had 1 hypo in 3 weeks! Compared to 22% in the 2 weeks before getting the CGM this felt bloody brilliant! 

I don't see testing my blood sugars as being a big deal because I'm so used to doing it now, but what bothers me is that I can't test them when I want to. I've heard so many stories about test strips being restricted that I'm very conscious of how many times a day I test. After starting my pump trial Dr C wrote to my GP explaining that I would need to test 4-8x a day, but I notice that I start to ration my test strips if I've gone over my recommended allowance through fear of being restricted. Even if I'm feeling unwell or my daily activity has changed and I need to test more often, I tend not to. The CGM put this fear to rest (for the loan period anyway) because I only needed to test before I was going to eat. 

Negatives that I found to using the CGM were: 
  • After changing a sensor one day it didn't give me any readings for 20 hours
  • A few times I noticed that the CGM wasn't anywhere close to the readings when I checked my sugars on my blood glucose meter - e.g. I was having a hypo, I knew I was, so I checked my CGM which read 8.6mmol/l but after testing with my meter it showed that I was actually 3.3mmol/l 
  • I got a nasty rash from the stickies - but I tend to come up in a rash when I use plasters etc so I did expect this
Yesterday I handed the CGM back to Dr C (sad times). We discussed the benefits the CGM gave, looked at my data, had a chat, decided on our next steps... Then I think my big sad eyes gave me away... 

"You can borrow it again" Dr C said. 

"Forever?" I asked. 

"Not forever, no, but if you have a week when you think you might need it, or if you think you may need to make some changes to your regime, you can borrow it then."

"Maybe when I'm doing my nursing placement? I'd like to be more aware of my blood sugars when I'm on the wards" I said.

I went home CGM-less and just 3 hours later I had a hypo. Typical. An hour ago I had another hypo... That's 2 in 2 days since handing the CGM back. I know that there are many many more people out there who are in much more need of a CGM than I am, but I can't help wanting my comfort blanked back. That safety net really changed me for the better. I felt happy confident and relaxed. 

If anyone's thinking about funding a CGM or applying for funding I'd say go for it (though be aware that they are expensive - especially for poor students like myself)! Make sure you research them first and speak to people who use them, but for me it was the easiest 3 weeks of the 12 years I've had with diabetes.





Ninjabetic x








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