I hope everyone is having a great start to the week. I thought I’d write a post about CGM’s, the pros, cons and my personal thoughts and feelings about them – more specifically about my Dexcom.
Now, back to basics for a minute, before technology started to advance, the only way to check what our blood sugars were, was to finger prick a small amount of blood onto a strip which was analysed by a monitor. When diagnosed, you are told to check your blood sugars before eating and at any point you are feeling unwell. Event though this is the most accurate way of measuring your blood sugars, you have massive gaps throughout the day of not knowing what your blood sugars are doing.
You do not realise that this is an issue until you put your first FGM (flash glucose monitor) or CGM (continuous glucose monitor) and you get to see what 24 hours of blood sugars look like compared to 4 tests a day. You don’t see the rise in blood sugar post mealtimes or how they react to the likes of stress.
A FGM is a glucose monitor such as the Freestyle Libre 1-2 where it holds data for up to 8 hours without scanning on your registered device. To view your blood sugars, you scan the 14-day sensor placed on your body and the results are then on your phone. Once the sensor has expired, you can replace it with another. The results can be sent onto anyone of your choosing; but they can only see your blood sugars if you physically scan your sensor. This is a cheaper alternative compared to CGMs. As of April 2022, in the UK all Type 1 Diabetics (or those who require constant blood sugar monitoring, please see the other types of diabetes here) will have access to an FGM or more with no reference to criteria’s. If you were unaware of this, please speak to your diabetic nurses as they might be able to arrange a meeting to correct this.
A CGM is a continuous glucose monitor such as the Dexcom G6 or the Glucomen Day. Every 5 minutes the transmitter will record your blood sugar and send the information to your registered device. You can set up personalised alarms to alert you if your blood sugars have gone out of range. So for me, I get alerted every 30 minutes my bloods are out of range, this can be really helpful but also very annoying! But as I say, this helps me get my bloods back down in range. The criteria for a CGM on the NHS is particularly difficult, especially if you have an insulin pump. I pay for my Dexcom, and I have to say, is so worth it! You can allow others to view your blood sugar data by inviting them, on a CGM at any point they want to view the numbers they can. Even if you are hundreds of miles away!
I suppose the biggest pro of using this type of technology is understanding your bodies patterns and trends. Understanding the impact of food, exercise, sleep, stress etc has on our blood sugars. Using the technology helps to promote you staying in range much longer which on a personal level has done wonders for me.
Your hospital can view this data, so if you are having an over the phone appointment, they can see your real time data.
The CGM’s can connect to certain pumps such as Tandem Tslim and mimic a closed loop system where adjustments to background insulin can be made. I have not used this but know of many who have, and people cannot stop singing Control IQ’s praise!
It gives you a sense of normality in your life, you do not always have to get your monitor out, so you don’t have to feel different at times.
You can alter your range easily as well as personal alarms, all helping to aid your diabetes.
Your fingers get a massive break from all the pricks! The black dots are finally going on my fingers, and they are starting to feel normal again!
Dexcom have recently commenced an update where (iphone only) Siri can read your blood sugars using your designated phrase. Please view my Dexcom highlight on my Instagram if you wanted to see this happen. It just makes general day to day life so much easier.
Like everything there are negatives of using this technology as well, and this shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you are making a decision to change or start this technology.
The main con is that it can feel like an information overload. At any second you are surrounded by data about your diabetes which can make it very difficult for your brain to switch off from a diabetic sense.
It is technology after all so isn’t always accurate. On the whole, the technology is brilliant; but like all of us, it has some off days which can make decision making for diabetes very dangerous. With this being said though, you should always sense check your technology, especially if your symptoms do not add up to the reading.
With all the data available to you, you can make decisions a little too quickly by overreacting. This can cause erratic blood sugars by constant rising and falling. Which can ultimately make you feel more poorly.
With that being said, my diabetic management would be 1 million times worse without the use of my Dexcom. Whether I am using my pump or back on injections, the Dexcom just makes my life so much easier. I would be extremely lost without it!
After countless rejections of getting the Dexcom on the NHS I decided the positives outweighed the cost per month, so I am currently self-funding. Money I am happy to spend as being a diabetic can be pretty rubbish and for me using the Dexcom makes it so much better!
I also get to decorate my devices; this makes them look so much less medical and can promote positive conversations in public when people see my stickers. I purchase my stickers from Type 1 Toucan, please check her out 😊
As mentioned above with Dexcom responding to Siri, I cannot explain how much better that has made my day-to-day life. Whilst driving I can view my blood sugars without taking my eyes off the road ensuring I am driving at legal blood sugar levels. Whilst working I can not give diabetes a second thought and just ask what they are – and I will find out! It is something I never knew that I needed!
I am currently on an Medtronic 640g insulin pump which unfortunately does not communicate with my Dexcom but let me tell you, when I am eligible to upgrade in January 2024, there is no doubt that the new pump will be talking to my Dexcom. If that makes one small positive change, everything is worth it!
If anyone has any questions regarding diabetic technology, please leave a question in the comments or message me on Instagram or Facebook!
If you’d like to subscribe to my mailing list for new blog posts, please enter your email below: