Sunday, December 13, 2015

Getting the Most Out of My Dexcom CGM

Can I just say thank you so much, to all the nice people that read my last blog post and sent me supportive comments?!  That totally and completely made my day. And it was already an awesome day to begin with.

So, I definitely wanted to get started on sharing a few of the things I've done to get that A1C to my all time lowest- and best.  Like I mentioned in that last post, an A1C is just a number.  But all of us Type 1s care a lot about it!  We all want it as low as we can get it without having to suffer through a lot of low blood sugars.

My style of blogging, which I'm sure you've noticed if you've read a few previous posts, is to keep things pretty short and sweet.  So although I've got a whole list of things I've been implementing and unimplementing (that is a word I just made up, and obviously, it's meaning is: v. the opposite of implementing) I'll just focus on one thing at a time.

Today, I want to start with the biggest game changer that's come into my life over the past few years:
My Dexcom continuous glucose monitoring system.
Dexcom G4.  My first CGM.  And a total game changer for me.
It's been over 20 years since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  So 20 years ago, I was on a big learning curve.  I read every book about Type 1 I could get my hands on.  And I went to a few (very depressing) "support group" meetings.  I learned as much as I could about my brand new disease from my doctors and those books. (Because the internet wasn't around back then!)

And then, once I got my blood sugars relatively under control, I just kept doing what I was doing.  I sort of forgot that new information was probably coming out all the time.  And because I've been coasting along, and doing okay with my blood sugar control over the years, my doctors sorta kept me on auto pilot.  For 20 freaking years.

But fortunately, I have a friend named Tanya, that also is a Type 1.  And she is constantly trying new things like pumps, and meters, and medications that other than through her, I never even would have heard about. To be honest, although I love hearing about anything she has told me, I personally didn't have a big interest in it for myself until she showed her Dexcom to me one night at dinner. My A1C had started slowly creeping up over the years- nothing super alarming, but getting to see a graph of my blood sugar over a 24 hour period sounded like something that would be helpful.

I didn't know if my insurance would cover such a thing, back when Dexcom was new on the scene.  I actually volunteered to be in a clinical trial in which I would've had to use a Dexcom, and would have gotten to keep it- that I didn't qualify for.  Boo hoo. But then I thought, "Hey, I should at least ask my insurance if they could help cover it."

As the saying goes, "Ask and you shall receive."  I asked and I got my first Dexcom free- well, technically, I had already met my deductible.  I think I had to pay 10% of the cost.  But it felt free enough, and I was very happy.

I thought I would just use my Dexcom here and there- like maybe one week every month or two, just to get an idea what my blood sugars were doing over a 24/7 period.  I also (wrongly) thought the big appeal of using a Dexcom was not having to prick my finger as often for a glucometer reading.

From Day 1 of inserting my first Dexcom sensor, I haven't gone a single day without it.  As advised by the Diabetic Educator that showed me the ropes so to speak, in the beginning, all I did was look at the trend graphs.

I just watched for a few weeks.  But then, once I understood a few things like how long it seemed to take my insulin to make a move on my blood sugar before a meal, and what my blood sugars were doing a couple of hours after eating and while I slept, I couldn't help but make changes.  Little ones at first.  And I got bolder and bolder with my insulin dosages as I became more knowledgeable based on the knowledge Dexcom gave me- Knowledge that I was never privy to before.  Now I don't just take shots before a meal or bedtime.  I will take small doses of insulin throughout the day when I notice it going too high.  I'm not at all scared of lows, because my doses are very small (1/2 unit doses with my insulin pen) and because I know the Dexcom will show me what's going on as my blood sugar is falling.  I can take a small amount of carbohydrate if necessary.
Dexcom G5 on the iPhone

So I have to say... Of all of the things that have allowed me to make a positive change in my overall diabetes care Dexcom is number 1.

It also piqued a whole new interest in this disease that I'm not sure I ever had, at least to this extent, before. Looking at my trend graph throughout the day is a huge motivator.  I can't help but react to the numbers.

I'm now using the Dexcom G5.  I like having it on my phone, but sometimes, I prefer the little meter Dexcom provides.  (If you're interested in my comparisons of the G4 and G5, I wrote a blog post about it, which you can read about by clicking right HERE.)

In my next post, I'll talk about Sugar Surfing, which is my other huge discovery as of late.  There's no way I could do "sugar surfing" without having the data that a Dexcom provides.

Thanks so much for reading my post today, and for visiting my blog.  Please leave a comment if you have anything at all to say and add to the conversation because that's what makes for a good blog, and I am sure aiming for having a great blog focused on Type 1!  Please don't be shy- I'd love to hear anything you have to say, and I'm sure other readers would as well.  


  1. Aw, thank you for the shout out! I'm so happy that the Dexcom has made such a remarkable difference for you! It's the same here, can't imagine myself without it now! :)

    1. yay, Tanya! :) and really, thank YOU.

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