Ow: My Stomach, the War-Zone


My stomach is a war-zone. I don’t mean to make light of the real terror and trauma of war-zones, but that’s the best metaphor I have to describe what my stomach looks like right now. A war-zone. A minefield.

I wrote last week about my newest cyborg part, a Medtronic Minimed continuous glucose monitor. Thus far, control-wise, it has been wonderful. Wonderful! I have a new window into what my wacky body is doing, and I love it. According to the reports available from Minimed online, over the past week or so, my average blood glucose as measured by the sensor was 96. 96! With only .3% of my time spent over 140 mg/dL, and only .2% under 70 mg/dL. Please excuse my shameless self-congratulation, but I’m pretty pleased with that. It’s like I’m almost ordinary!

But there’s one big downside to the new CGM. One big, gaping hole in the quality of the experience, and that is the many big, gaping holes it leaves in my abdomen.

I’m a young, white-collar, adult in America. I’m not used to experiencing physical pain. And those CGM sensors hurt going in. A lot. Way more than the Paradigm infusion sets I use for the insulin pump. I’ve switched the sensor twice now; both times, the first attempt failed when my stomach decided a bloody geyser was really appropriate for the local landscape. The most recent sensor switch, I ended up crying because the insertion hurt so much. That’s right, crying– full-on-ow-ow-it-hurts crying. Like a little girl.

To be fair to Minimed, it’s at least partially my fault; I’ve been inserting the sensors by hand, instead of using the evil-looking spring-loaded injector, and that is likely part of the problem. The next time I switch the sensor, I will use the official insertion device, despite how scary it looks. My hope is that will help.

Even if the injector device alleviates some of the initial pain of entry, though, I don’t expect inserting these sensors will be fun or pain-free any time soon. And additionally, here in lovely San Diego, it’s 77 degrees outside and pool-time– but I hate the idea of my stomach, cored and drilled and taped and wired, in a bathing suit. Sigh. Doesn’t mean I won’t wear a bathing suit, but I’ll feel that much more self-conscious when I do.

So, given the war-zone I see above my belt-line, I would like to make a suggestion: will someone please invent and bring to market a minimally invasive continuous glucose monitor? The current, very invasive Minimed version I have uses an electrochemical sensor to measure the nano-Amps of interstitial fluid current around the filament in the sensor. What’s stopping Minimed from implanting a multimeter in me and calling it a day?

There must be a good reason the implant approach hasn’t worked yet, and I presume it has to do with the infinitely adaptive human body ceasing the flow of fluid around the sensor after a while. That’s just an initial guess though. So on my to-do list for this weekend?

  1. Find out what’s on the non-cutting cutting edge of continuous glucose monitoring.
  2. Hang out by the pool and tan, war-zone stomach be damned.
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Dr. Margaret A. Morris
12 years ago

Wow, thirty years on a pump? That’s amazing. You certainly have been on the proverbial bleeding edge of diabetes technology, then! I was just lamenting the lack of abdominal real-estate this morning as I tried to switch my infusion site , prep a new CGM sensor site, keep all the pieces 2 – 3 inches away from each other, and not hit any existing bruises, scars, open wounds, or muscles. Sigh. Nonetheless, definitely still worth it for the pump and the CGM.   I’d love to talk with you more about your experience with the pump over the last 30… Read more »

12 years ago

I feel your pain.  I’m coming up on 30 years on a pump, and many of those involved childhood horseplay and metal needles in my stomach.  Needless to say, usable real estate on my stomach is a premium.  To use your war-zone analogy, the pump+CGM sensor is pushing the front line of the war for stomach real-estate further and further out, leaving scar tissue in it’s wake. I, too, am using the MiniMed CGM.  The benefit of wearing it is undeniable, and I’ve waited most of my life for this technology.  BUT, it’s a real shame it is coming at… Read more »

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