Day 115 – Going to 11 with my CGM

25 04 2010

My backyard tulips are blooming!

I made it today — an early morning 11-mile run by the horse farms on the country road loop, then through my neighborhood and park back by my house to chug Gatorade left on my porch to keep my blood sugar from dropping too low. Exactly one hour and 50 minutes took me to 21+ miles for the week.

Yesterday, I hooked up my continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It’s a device I can wear near my waist to monitor my blood sugar levels 24/7. It talks wirelessly to my insulin pump to show levels on the screen and alert me if it’s rising too high or low. I should have been wearing this sooner in my half marathon training. It really helps to see early on vs. feel much too late when blood sugar is dropping.

I’ve put off wearing the CGM, mostly, because the supplies are expensive, and my insurance won’t cover them. They “accidentally” approved the $1,000 device itself just over a year ago, but since it was a mistake, I’m on my own for the supplies — the sensors you inject into your tissue to take the measurements. One can last about 5 days, so it’s clearly not very affordable to use constantly.

I love the information from this device, but I don’t love wearing it. A little bigger than a quarter, but much thicker, it’s a bit in the way and tends to feel sore. It’s at the exact height my kids bump into and hug often. Other downsides: unlike my insulin pump, you can’t temporarily disconnect it and reconnect it. And you still have to check blood sugars with a finger stick to calibrate the CGM every 12 hours and before giving any insulin.

Researchers are working on a CGM that communicates with the pump without human intervention. Also known as the promised artificial pancreas. My doctor knows I would love to be a guinea pig for clinical trials if that chance ever comes up.

I have enough sensors to use the CGM for the next three weeks to get to the half marathon. The data it provides is great for my doctor to use to make insulin pump adjustments, and invaluable when like today, I’m dropping, dropping, dropping as the miles accumulate — especially early morning with breakfast insulin on board.

The pros outweigh the cons, so for now, I’m committed to wearing this little machine around in the name of going beyond 11 in true Spinal Tap fashion!

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