Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dexcom, Weddings, and Alcohol

I absolutely love this thing.

It's a Dexcom reciever. Part of a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. The sensor and transmitter are pretty small, and currently attached to my abdomen. Every 5 minutes, the Dexcom gives me my glucose levels.

These are not yet accurate enough to totally replace traditional glucose meters. Before you ever give yourself insulin based on your current BG, you have to stick your finger. But the number on the screen isn't what's so awesome about this device. What's so awesome is that you can see where your blood glucose is going!

Three examples of when I loved this thing this week:

Wednesday: I was driving to an appointment when Dexcom buzzed to tell me my BG was dropping fast. I knew (and it showed) that my numbers weren't high enough to stand such a quick drop for long, so I chowed down on some glucose tabs. 5 minutes later, I could feel that my BG was getting low... but very shortly after that, the glucose tabs kicked in and I felt better, and Dexcom showed my BG starting to slowly rise to safer levels.

Friday: At my birthday party, I decided to have some wine. I rarely do this for fear of what it'd do to my blood glucose levels, but I had Dexcom to tell me about any sudden drops... which I did not have. Dexcom gave me a view of my BG trends all evening, and I kept it where it would wake me if I went low during the night. I didn't have to stress.

Saturday (last night): I went to my cousin's wedding with an already elevated blood glucose due to eating fast food for lunch. At the reception, I gave myself insulin and made myself wait until Dexcom showed my BG starting to lower before beginning to eat my dinner (thus avoiding an even worse spike). This meant that, when it came time for cake, I didn't feel horrible about eating sugar. Again, I took my insulin a few minutes before eating the cake and saw that my numbers were starting to come down slightly before I ever put the first bite in my mouth. In fact, after that cake, I finally saw my numbers begin to return to a healthy range. Then, about three and a half hours after the cake, Dexcom buzzed me and showed a sharp drop in BG. What?! I tested to confirm and yes, I'd had a sharp drop. Aided by Dexcom (and the occasional finger stick to confirm whenever I was shocked to not see a rise in BG), I started consuming carbs. A small cookie... nothing. Another cookie... nothing. A 10-carb box of apple-carrot juice... A slight drop?! Glucose tabs... a slight rise, so wait and see.... no change? Finger-stick shows a BG of 88, which is too low for bedtime with such a downward trend and the knowledge that I'd had alcohol two nights in a row! I ate a 16-carb South Beach bar and sleepily watched Dexcom's numbers rise to almost 100 (with a slightly-upward trend arrow) before nestling it next to me and going to sleep. Dexcom shows I reached the 190 range in the night (which, I've discovered, means I was probably closer to 170 or 180), but the glucose meter showed me a 112 (Dexcom showed 130) when I got up late in the morning. I'd rather not go that high, but I think two evenings of alcohol threw my system through a loop, and it was necessary.

I've found the Dexcom numbers off by 20 points pretty often, but it's been an invaluable tool already. This was just a "trial" week, required by my insurance before they'll actually cover Dexcom, and I'm now more convinced than ever that I want one. It's helped me learn more about the timing of my insulin (I'm now trying to take it 15 minutes before I eat, when I can, to avoid spikes) and has helped me live a slightly more normal life (normal for me!) without worrying that I'd have a middle-of-the-night emergency. (I also learned that something last night didn't work for me. Was it two nights of wine in a row? Or did I guess horribly wrong about the carb content of cake? Or did even that small amount of dancing bring my BG down? I'll now have a much more watchful eye on all of those elements until I figure out what the problem was.)

Dexcom, you rock.

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