I made a commitment to do the #30DaysOfDex challenge at the beginning of the year. Actually, I have been wearing a sensor continually since the beginning of December; so really, I am at about day 45 now.
I have a love/hate relationship with CGM technology. I adore it far more than I dislike it, but still, there have been times that when I simply can’t face wearing it. But that actually has nothing to do with the actual tech. I wear a device that I truly believe I can rely on – and I know that because calibrations are spot on. Even though I’ve been using this particular type of CGM for about 3 years now, I am still surprised at just how accurate – just how often – the results are.
No, the reason I don’t wear it all the time is because I have found it too burdensome when headspace is not right. When there is too much else going on or I am feeling overwhelmed, I just can’t face alarms and numbers and a machine that demands I be responsive to it.
But through some trial and error, I have found ways to lessen those demands, yet still use the device effectively.
Firstly, I’ve had to identify what I hope to achieve from wearing a CGM. Really, there are two aims: have fewer wild BGL swings and pick up hypos as early as possible with a hope of avoiding.
I also identified what I didn’t really care about and that included having a BGL sitting at 5.5mmol/l the whole time. In fact, I am not even aiming for BGLs between 4 and 8 the whole time. I raised the upper limit to avoid some alarms. I don’t want to hear screeching every time I hit 7 or 8mmol/l. At this stage, I am not interested in that. I don’t mind if I hit 10 or 11 after a meal, as long as it doesn’t sit there all day.
It’s not about the number values – for me it’s about fewer variables, because when I am all over the shop, I feel like crap.
So what have I found after a month and a half with this attitude? By and large, it’s been a successful experiment – am far more responsive to the alarms that sound now and I don’t feel frustrated. And I am able to find patterns. It is incredible how I was low or high at the same time each day without knowing it. Or rather, I probably did think it was the case, but with the data and graphs, there is no way of hiding it. I don’t log – it’s been a long time since I had – so I was relying on memory. ‘Was I low at 3pm yesterday as well? Maybe…. Was I? Or was I high?’
The thing that I have come to understand about CGM (and I may be a little slow to the party here) is that the ability to customise it means that I can find a way to benefit from it, even when I am feeling totally burnt out and can’t be bothered with the minutiae of my diabetes.
I don’t need to have a perfectly straight line for CGM to be considered successful. It’s not a waste of a sensor (and therefore a waste of money) if my BGLs do hit and play around at 10 or 11 for a while. This is kind of a breakthrough for me – I’m feeling quite proud!
Something else that has become clear while wearing CGM is that my BGLs are actually not as unstable as I think they are. Oftentimes, I am sure that I am really high, or moderately high or really high. I know that if I wasn’t wearing CGM and was feeling unmotivated, I would use that as an excuse to not check. ‘I know I am high. I don’t want to see a high number because it will make me feel worse. So I am going to bury this head of mine in this sand over here and forget about diabetes.’ Diabetes? What diabetes? Let’s build a sandcastle!
The reality is that of course my numbers are not perfect, but they are actually, most of the time, okay-ish. And I am generally okay with okay-ish! Okay-ish keeps me sane and keeps me happy.
CGM makes me think about my diabetes more. It makes me in tune with it more and it does make it easier for me to manage. Perhaps I have taken a long time to work out how CGM works for me – maybe I have wasted some time or not worn it when I could have benefitted. But for now this is what works really well. And it’s a really good way to start the year.