I have been staying in hotels in London this week and happened to notice, and smile, that almost every bag I have for overnight travel has a stub of a roll of fruit pastilles in it, my preferred ‘hypo on the go’ treatment, as I hate glucose tablets. Jelly babies are another stalwart and they live in a bag in the glove compartment of the car. They are all a reassuring presence and I wonder if my life will always have an ironic scattering of sugar from the fruit pastilles in all my handbags and makeup bags.
The reason I noticed was that I needed to eat some of them as I was away, in a hotel room alone, and didn’t want to go to bed with blood glucose of 5ish, it just feels too low and a hypo at night may not be a great thing for me – my previous blogs tell that story.
But this is a good and positive story as over the last months I have been using my new continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and unlike the first time it’s all gone quite smoothly.
I bought my own transmitter and sensors around Christmas time as a gift to me, costing £275 (just so you know) with 5 sensors that last 6 days each. Medtronic had a special offer on (runs until end April – see here) and as I have my wonderful Medtronic pump where it can read the data from the transmitter, I decided to give it another go.
I don’t want to wear a CGM continuously with the current technology. It means another site and more paraphernalia attached to me. I am, however, interested in why over the last 6 months I have really struggled to keep my blood glucose down. On the face of it I was doing the same as I had been doing for months but I was getting frustrated as nearly every reading was in the teens and I was feeling tired and a bit fed up. I wanted to know what was happening so I could try to do something about it and a record of my blood glucose coupled with my insulin regime needed looking at and I probably needed to change my regime, you see in diabetes it’s more complicated than just not eating things and being ‘good’.
This time inserting the sensor with the fab rep from Medtronic, for the first one, went really smoothly and the second at home on my own went even better. I realised that I needed not to rush, that it would take a bit more time than a pump ’re-siting’ as it’s slightly more complicated but also I’m still a novice. On balance my advice to people new to them is give yourself plenty of time, and don’t rush, take things step by step and I found that meant I didn’t waste any expensive sensors this time around.
Information is gold and information means power. My results from my CGM showed me that I had two problems not one and that although I had been trying to fix one of these things without the information unless I corrected both I was doomed to fail. 🙂
I found that the insulin delivered by the pump all the time (called the basal rate) wasn’t quite enough at some times of the day and needed to be increased and also my ratio of insulin to carbs, in the evening in particular, was wrong. The second of these two things was sending me to bed with a higher reading than I wanted most days and because my basal at night was good, i.e. it kept me at steady blood glucose through the night, if I was going to bed high it just maintained that – go to bed high meant waking high. Not the outcome I was looking for at all. 🙂
So here I am two weeks on – I do not have the CGM inserted at the moment. Wearing them all the time with the current technology is not for me. The warnings from the pump (I know I can change these) drove me nearly crazy – ‘Low predicted’, ‘You are definitely going low’, ‘come on Annie you are low’,’For F’s sake eat the fruit pastilles’ – of course they are not the real alerts and maybe it would be better if they were, but I found I was constantly alarming and when I was at work that was a bit cross making. 🙂
The best thing that has happened is that I have only had one reading over 10 in the two weeks since I changed my regime. I am stunned and so delighted. This is information for people at its best, I feel more in control and am actually looking forward to my next HbA1C – it’s a bit like an exam where you feel that you might have done OK!
But of course in life there is always an upside and a downside. What many people don’t realise is that for many people tighter control means more hypos and that’s why I noticed the fruit pastilles and I need to restock. Yep – I’ve had more hypos with the tighter control. That of course also affects my weight so the next phase is to try to tackle getting my weight down again. It never really ends! But my CGM experience has been a great one so far and I’ll let you know what the HbA1C is in a few weeks!
PS this was my BG this morning 🙂 #HappyAnnie
Reading your blogs about Diabetes always reminds me how little I understand about the social consequences. So I learn two things, firstly the importance of information and empowerment for the person with Diabetes and secondly the importance for Health Care Professionals to understand the impact of a Long Term Condition on activities of daily living. Thanks Anne
Thanks Elaine for hearing the messages! x
Your blog made me smile. It is little packets of jelly beans (Asda gourmet ones to be precise) I have stashed in all my bags, the car, the bedside table etc. My overnight bag usually contains more ‘just in case’ snacks and hypo cures than clothes! My worst hypos have been at night, so while staying in a hotel on my own is nice it is also a bit worrying.
I was given funding for a CGM for a while. I found the alarms drove me (and hubby) mad. I lost more sleep from the alarms than I did when I had a new born baby! I gave up with it. I found the CGM the hospital used where the data was downloaded after a week rather than real time was very helpful for the same reasons you mentioned. I found I needed to decrease my basal at around 2am and then increase it quite a lot at 4.30am. I would never have figured that out with testing myself.
I’ve lost some weight recently so I’m having to play around with my ratios and basal rates. Then the summer will be here and everything will need to change again if it is hot! The fun just never stops with diabetes does it?! 🙂
Love your comment! You are right how would testing hourly have identified your changed need at 2 am??
Yep – I have sensors that I will need when I am losing weight and as you say summer is on its way! Yippee. I will need to buy another box…..
So glad that you’re finding the CGM easier this time round. Sounds like you’ve made some good changes. Onwards and upwards… Well downwards with the HbA1c!!!