In June 2012, I was lucky enough to receive a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor from my healthcare provider. It took a while for me to get acquainted with it, but now that I have almost a half-years’ worth of experience, I’ve acquired a good grasp on how it functions, particularly the pros and cons of owning the device.
I think the best part of having a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is the constant knowledge of my general blood sugar whenever I need to know it. As an active college student, I can’t simply whip out my meter and test my blood sugar in any given environment. As a matter of fact, I think my professors and my peers would be concerned if they saw me pricking my finger in the middle of a classroom. But with the monitor, I can always have an awareness of where my blood sugar is going and whether or not I need to take an extra insulin shot. This has certainly alleviated some of my constant concern over my blood sugar.
Another pro of the CGM? Its easy-to-read screen that displays trend arrows and graph, both of which track my blood sugar over a selectable period of time. The arrows show the velocity of my blood sugars, an innovation I never thought would be possible ten years ago. If I’m working out at the gym, I can be alerted to the fact that my blood sugar is rapidly falling by looking at the double arrows. If I want to see the effect a granola bar has on my sugar a few minutes after eating it, I can see a diagonal arrow set at about 45 degrees upwards. Again, this feature puts me at ease when testing my blood sugar with my monitor isn’t an option at the exact time.
However, the continuous glucose monitor does have its downfalls. For instance, injection of the chip is more painful than my insulin shots. It’s easy to set up the monitor, but I always find myself cringing when I feel the sensor sinking into my stomach. It definitely prevents me from getting excited about changing my sensors each week.
Also, I never considered how loud and obnoxious the CGM can be. When it’s 5 o’clock in the morning during the week, I don’t want to be woken up by the harsh sound of my simultaneously beeping and vibrating monitor. Sadly, it’s happened a few times, and it’s affected my poor roommates (Sorry, Amanda and Jess!). What’s worse is that when I am forced to jump out of my lofted dorm bed to silence the monitor and correct my low sugar, I suffer a panic attack when the monitor’s screen says my blood sugar is falling below 40. At this point, I know I ought to get confirmation from my meter, and more often than not my blood sugar is at a far-less scary 80. The trend arrows may be convenient, but seeing as the CGM can’t always be calibrated exactly to my blood sugars, they tend to induce fear instead of preventing concern.
So, is the CGM worth it? It depends on your perspective and the lifestyle you lead. Personally, I find the device to be helpful. It took me awhile to adjust to its sometimes loud and terrifying habits, but I did get used to it and I’m glad that I can utilize some of the latest diabetes technology. I’ve seen many advancements in the diabetic technological field over the past 15 years, and the CGM stands out as a favorite invention. I’m looking forward to the improvements that will be made over time.