I attach a sensor to my body, either on my belly, butt, thigh, or arm, which has a filament that is deposited under my skin by a very small needle. This filament determines blood glucose readings by monitoring sugar levels in interstitial fluid (the fluid I between cells). This information is sent via a small grey transmitter to a receiver that displays a blood glucose reading every 5 minutes. The sensor is calibrated by periodic checks with a finger prick from a standard glucose monitor.
In the last 6 days (I'm excluding the first day because apparently the pain killer I took confused the sensor which in turn confused me) this information has already proven invaluable. I simple vibration from my pocket tells me "Hey Craig, you should probably take a break and eat something", or "Hey stupid, that handful of Snickers fun size you ate should have been accompanied by some insulin."
But the information goes beyond a simple number and alert now and then. While a finger stick will give me a number that tells me if I'm high or low, my CGM will tell me where I've been for the past 12 hours, if I'm headed up or down, and how fast. That is really good information when I'm deciding how to treat. If I know that I'm at 200 and falling I'll use less insulin than if I'm at 200 and rising. Same goes for treating lows.
Yesterday reaffirmed my thoughts that this was a great choice for me. I left work and took The Bug to the urgent care. After dropping her off at daycare I stopped at the gas station to get a donut. I injected what I thought was the correct amount for the donut and enough to cover my planned breakfast after I got home. Having worked a 12 hour shift on an hours sleep I was exhausted when I got home and collapsed on the couch, forgetting the breakfast and taken insulin to cover. An hour or so later I snapped awake, not sure if the Dexcom was beeping or if something else woke me. I was in a stupor and shaking badly. My mind was in a fog and I took a second to remind myself where I was. I reached for the receiver to my Dexcomand it simply read LOW. Looking at the graph it appeared I was in the low 50's. This was the worst low I had ever experienced. Had I spent the time looking for my meter in my already confused state and then tried to pour myself some cereal which already ended up on the floor before reaching for a handful of gummy bears I very well may have been found in a crumpled heap on the floor. But the Dexcom allowed me to act fast without searching for anything extra or taking extra steps.
My experience so far has been full of positives and I've loved being able to explain to people that my new toy is not an MP3 player. Hopefully it continues that way as I continue to pay more for this equipment than simple test strips but reap greater rewards.