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.