My husband’s out of town right now on business, and in addition to making me miss him, it’s also making me realize that this is one of the first times since I was diagnosed with Type 1 nearly nine years ago that I’ve spent a substantial number of nights alone. When I was diagnosed, I was still in college — and lived with a roommate. After college, I lived briefly with my parents, and then moved in with more roommates. A succession of house shares followed, and then I moved in with my boyfriend, who’s now my husband. There’s pretty much always been someone on hand who’d notice if I never woke up.
I’m not overly paranoid about the whole “severe hypoglycemia at night” thing, partially because I try to make sure I’m at a reasonable level before I go to sleep, and partially because I now have a continuous glucometer, whose incessant buzzing does a very good job of waking me up if my sugar starts to drop too low. But last night, I ran into problems: I ate dinner late, around 9, and then went to bed a half hour later. I assumed my glucometer would wake me up if there were a problem but oops, its battery died about twenty minutes after I fell asleep, and there were no warning beeps to let me know something was wrong.
It turned out I was fine; when I woke up this morning, my blood sugar was at 96. But still, I hate realizing that despite my desire to feel independent, diabetes makes it important for me to have someone around. Perhaps if I lived alone, I’d get one of those diabetic service dogs that wake you up if they smell your blood sugar dropping. As things stand now, I usually have my husband (he’s almost as cute as a Golden Retriever, though his ears are nowhere near as soft). But as for those times when I lack both my partner and a service animal? That’s where the CGM becomes even more important.
So I’d like to send a personal request to Abbott: if your CGM gives a warning that there’s a week’s worth of battery left — as mine did yesterday morning — please make sure that the battery is going to last more than 10 hours. And if it’s about to fail, program in one final beep to let the user know it’s on its way out. And also, why not make like a Minimed pump and allow the user to switch the battery without having to insert a new sensor? That sucker was only a day old, but thanks to the battery issue I had to pull it off and rely on finger pricks instead.
This fiasco also got me paying more attention to how much time I actually spend thinking about and dealing with diabetes. That warrants an entire post of its own, but let’s put it this way: so far today, I’ve woken up not just to a dysfunctional CGM but to a glucometer that got so cold overnight that I needed to warm it up in my pants before it would work. I’ve tested my blood sugar 16 times (and counting), taken three injections of Symlin, spent an afternoon hovering steadily around 270 before dropping 160 points in the half hour before dinner, replaced the battery on my transmitter, replaced my pump reservoir and insertion set, squeezed the blood out of the old insertion site, put on a new sensor, gone temporarily low, and am about to test my blood sugar again before going to sleep — hoping that I got the timing of my 10-hour calibration period right so that the CGM doesn’t wake me up at 5 am. It probably also doesn’t help that I’m working on an article right now about diabetes — which means that I’ve essentially been thinking about it all day. But even without the writing, it’s still tiring, this disease. I’m sure I’m not the only diabetic out there who would pay good money — at least the price of a CGM — for a vacation.