Diabetes Forecast

I've Got You Under My Skin

By Sara Sklaroff, Editor at Large ,

My husband is totally OK with the other guy in my life. Well, except for when the other guy wakes us up in the middle of the night. But to be fair, the other guy only does that when he's worried about me.

That other "guy" is my continuous glucose monitor, or CGM. We call him Dexy, not a particularly original nickname for his brand name, DexCom, but it makes him sound continental and debonair. And I have come to think of him as a close friend, if not exactly a paramour.

In retrospect, it's not obvious that I would have chosen to hitch myself to a CGM. I mean, it was only a couple of years ago that I got my first microwave oven (and that was because it came with the house we moved into). That said, I like the idea of technology. So when my diabetes management was stalling—my A1C had crept up over 7 and I was having a rough time trying to edge it back—my doctor and I decided to give the CGM a try.

The CGM has three main parts. The disposable plastic sensor sticks on your skin, with a fine wire that slides beneath the surface to take glucose readings. The second part, the transmitter, locks into the sensor to communicate wirelessly with the receiver, a handheld device with a display screen. The device records glucose levels every five minutes and reports them in the same numbers used by blood glucose meters. It's actually the receiver that we call Dexy; that's the part that rumbles and beeps if I go too high or low. Its screen tells me how my glucose has acted for the past 24 hours, with arrows that show the direction that my levels are currently moving in.

In my case, the technology was transformational. At my first doctor's visit after Dexy, my A1C was down to 6.6. Before Dexy, I'd been afraid to exercise because sometimes I would have a seriously unpleasant low during or after the workout; now I can see what direction my glucose is moving in and act accordingly, in time. I learned the first week that my seemingly "perfect" breakfast cereal actually caused a glucose spike that I hadn't noticed because it occurred before my two-hour finger stick. And best of all, I can now tolerate low-normal readings, because Dexy tells me whether they are likely to turn into real lows or not.

It's now a year after we first met, and the honeymoon isn't over—despite the fact that Dexy is not a perfect match. He sometimes gives false readings, insisting that I am falling desperately low when I am just hanging around in the 80s. But he's right most of the time, and, like the human guy in my life, he's a great comfort all of the time.



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