Painted Nails, or Why I Love My Continuous Glucose Monitor


It’s been about three months now with my new Continuous Glucose Monitor. I love it, and I refuse to go back to the old, pre-CGM days– maintaining glucose control is so much easier with constant tracking and visibility into rates of change, and as a result, it is so much easier to be less anxious about my blood sugar all the time. And that, for me, is huge.

I was thinking about all this yesterday, during an activity that I consider to be one of the small yet meaningful examples of Why I Love My CGM:

Judge me if you must, but I really like painting my nails. The colors, the shininess, the girliness– I really enjoy the aesthetic experience. But, more than that, I love the implication about my time: to paint my nails well, without messing them up, I need about an hour of uninterrupted time in which I don’t have to touch anything. No typing, no mouse-clicking, no laundry, no heavy-lifting– in short, no labor of any kind. As a result, painting my nails, for me, is imbued with the sense of leisure and wonderful superfluity. If I had a chance to paint my nails, I wasn’t overwhelmed with work or errands or responsibilities; I had free-time to spare.

But diabetes doesn’t care about spare time. Spare time might make it easier to remember to pay attention to my diabetes, but I can’t stop being diabetic in my spare time. In the past, this meant I might, at some point during the nail-painting ritual, realize my blood sugar feels high or low. And then I’d have to measure it with a finger-prick and a glucose meter. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but measuring your blood sugar with wet nails is an endeavor bound for failure, and I have lost many well-painted nails to my glucose meter.

You’d think that it would be sufficient to make sure my blood glucose levels were stable before starting to paint my nails. However, there are two big problems with this proposal. Firstly, finding a time that I know I will not be required to do anything for at least another hour is hard enough to begin with; ensuring that my blood sugar is also below a certain threshold of volatility at that point would likely mean that I never have an opportunity to paint my nails. Secondly, even if I’m stable beforehand, and don’t feel like my blood sugar is out-of-sorts, the mere knowledge that it might be, and I can’t conveniently check it, causes enough anxiety and worry that the otherwise relaxing process of painting my nails becomes a stressful experience.

Enter the CGM. A running trend line of my blood glucose, with no finger sticking, and minimal interface interaction to get a report of the most recent number. Can you hear my sigh of relief? This may seem inconsequential to non-diabetics, and even to non-anxious diabetics, but to me, this is a small, perfectly-formed unit of luxury.

Marketers of the medical device world, let the doctors and the insurers know: I love my CGM because it means I can have hot pink nails and still control my diabetes.

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12 years ago

Going into my second week with a CGM and I have not experienced constant blood sugar levels like this …maybe ever. Today I went on  a very long bike ride and got an error reading  and lost the signal from my CGM. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fix it while on the trail.  An hour later my blood sugar plummeted  without the help of knowing that was happening.   I can see that I have a lot to learn on how to use it most effectively.  So much to learn, I can do it.  Each day is so much better with a… Read more »

12 years ago

it’s the small things . . . I completely hear where you’re coming from. And considering the current state of my own nails, I might have to take advantage of my own CGM.

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