After wearing a Dexcom G5 for the past five weeks, I can definitely appreciate why so many people within the DOC feel that it is such a game changer.
I’ve been using FreeStyle Libre intermittently for the past two and a half years. In that time I’ve become accustomed to the nature of continuous glucose data, and learned how to utilise this tool in managing my diabetes. It was extremely convenient, particularly since the launch of LibreLink which allowed me to scan the sensor using my iPhone. It was also a more affordable option than CGM, with less of a commitment out of my wallet (i.e. no transmitter needed).
But the Libre was still a costly option. It wasn’t perfect, either. There were sensors that were consistently out by 1 or 2 mmol, which was a bit frustrating. The device had a knack of accentuating movements in blood glucose after I’d eaten, and in those instances the device was difficult to trust. It was also extremely sensitive to environmental factors. Things like getting up out of bed in the morning, or shifting from a dark room to a bright one.
Taking all of this into account, I always felt that I benefitted most from using Libre intermittently, supplemented by an AccuChek Guide.
I knew that CGM would give me more options going forward if I wished to explore any commercial or DIY closed loop options in the future. I was also sick of spending money on things that I didn’t want to be spending it on (hello, bills) and not so often on things that I actually wanted. I was at a point where I really did want to at least try CGM for myself, hoping that it might offer me a little more convenience over having to prick my finger 15 times per day. I knew that there was an affordable option out there thanks to some very bright diabuddies and the Diabatteries Down Under community on Facebook.
I got myself set up on the Dexcom last month, which I wrote about in my last post here, and I was able to trust it pretty quickly. Within a few days, I quickly realised that I no longer had to worry about all of those imperfections that accompanied the Libre. It was just accurate 95% of the time. That definitely improved my attitude towards my blood sugars, because I wasn’t seeing so many false upward arrows or accentuated blood glucose readings.
The system requests two calibrations every twelve hours with a finger prick, and I would say that this is the most important piece of maintenance that the system asks of me. I learned the hard way not to over-calibrate my CGM, even if the reading was a little out from my meter. Quality over quantity wins out here. I think it’s important to calibrate with clean hands, and when my blood glucose is in range and not moving too much. For me, that’s first thing in the morning, and just before dinner. The system learns from each and every calibration, and a new calibration does not ‘replace’ your last one.
The sensors are technically only approved for seven day wear, but can simply be ‘restarted’ at the end of their life. I got 21 days out of my first sensor on my tummy with great accuracy. It was a good choice for a first placement, however it did tend to annoy me while I was sleeping and I can’t say I liked the sight of it there. Sensor number 2 is on my arm, and I love how out-of-the-way it is there so far.
The alerts don’t bother me too much, as I’m generally able to manage my blood glucose quite well. It is nice to have the alert wake me up if I go out of range at night, which enables me to correct it rather than wake up high and struggle to bring it down. The low alarm is also a nice reminder for me not to put off treating my low.
So far, I am absolutely loving the convenience that CGM offers. I acknowledge just how privileged I am to be saying that. It’s so nice to simply glance at my phone at any given moment to see what my blood sugar is doing. I appreciate this more than anything in the middle of the night, when I don’t have to haul myself up and prick my finger. It’s also nice to be able to leave the house for a short time with nothing more than my iPhone and glucose tabs. It definitely doesn’t feel as hard as it previously did to keep my blood glucose within my target range of 4 to 8 mmol.
On a final (and more personal) note, I just wanted to say a massive thank you to the Diabatteries Down Under community and the kindness of strangers that have helped make CGM much, much more affordable than I ever thought was possible.
So far, I couldn’t be happier to have taken this leap.