Life with diabetes — a never-ending game


I’ve been back on a continuous glucose monitoring system — the DexCom Seven Plus — for almost two weeks, and for the most part, it’s been great. Sure, I have my frustrations and complaints about the system, but I can’t deny the utility of being able to see my blood sugar in near-real time. I already feel like my control is better.

But I’ve been experiencing an unexpected side effect of wearing a CGM: the renewed realization that there’s no cure. One of my favorite things to do with my CGM is to scroll back in time to see how good/bad my glucose levels have been (which is why I’m particularly frustrated that the DexCom only lets you see the past 24 hours). Whenever I have a particularly good day — one where my graph is pretty flat and I haven’t gone too far out of my target range — I feel a sense of satisfaction. It’s kind of like I’ve been playing a really complicated video game and have gotten past a tough level.

But whereas most video games eventually have an endpoint, the problem with the DexCom is that the information it’s tracking — and the disease that necessitates it — doesn’t have a final level. There will be no triumphant moment where I successfully “beat” diabetes, where my graphs are so good that I no longer have to keep track of them. And that’s a really depressing realization, one that’s almost worse when my trend lines have been great. I want to feel pride and satisfaction — and in a small way, I do — but then I’m smacked with reality: I’m going to have to keep going. With this disease, there is just no way to “win.”

I’ll admit: it’s been getting me down. What’s more, this morning as I was getting dressed I caught sight of myself in the mirror and noticed all the crap that’s on my body right now. I’ve got my pump site, obviously, with a cord leading to my pump (at that moment clipped onto my underwear — watch out, Victoria’s Secret). Then I have my big CGM patch, the adhesive currently coated in a layer of red lint from my tshirt. And adding to the fun: a big, dark purple bruise on my stomach from Monday, when I hit a blood vessel while giving myself a shot of Symlin. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful for all this equipment. As awkward and frustrating as it is, it makes my life with diabetes inestimably easier, and I wouldn’t want to live without it. But I do think it’s important to occasionally recognize the difficulty of all this, and give ourselves some credit. Forget the mental burden of diabetes — there’s a lot of physical burdens to carry around, too.

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Bridget McNulty
Bridget McNulty
11 years ago

I’ve never used (or even seen! Can you believe it?) an insulin pump (that’s what happens when you live in South Africa), but I can’t imagine how it makes your life easier. Having something permanently inserted as opposed to only having to jab five times a day? Seems like a hassle, no? Also, while I can see that a CGM would help control, surely it makes it almost impossible to forget you’re diabetic? I have long stretches – between meals, mostly – where I totally forget that I’m diabetic and just feel like a normal person. I wonder if all… Read more »

Jane Kokernak
11 years ago

When I see pictures of models on pump manufacturers’ sites, showing off the adhesive patch on the taut abdomen and the pump clipped so neatly to a waistband, I think that a real pump wearer could never be that model, because of all the bruises and insulin lumps that the wearing of a real pump brings.
Those bruises are real, and they have a symbolic function as well.

11 years ago

I’m curious- I’ve noticed a few folks mentioned symlin (or similar), what prompted going on it?
Thus far my endo’s haven’t mentioned anything about it, but from what I’ve read it seems like it would generally be useful.

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