Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Getting Used to CGM

We're up and running with our Dexcom G6 and we love it; especially N who is the one wearing it and getting a reprieve from all the finger poking.  He was very nervous to do the initial insertion but it went smoothly and he said he barely felt a thing which was a relief for both of us.

We started his first Dexcom cycle on Saturday right after breakfast and we have only done a finger poke check 1 time.  It's funny how you become comfortable with the old and familiar though.  I've wanted to confirm his readings a million times since Saturday but I'm resisting the urge.  We are getting good, reliable readings and he shouldn't have to poke his finger just because I now know we aren't managing things quite as well as we thought.

Things we like:
  • easy to insert with little pain and easy to follow directions
  • readings are excellent, update every five minutes
  • device can be set for a high and a low alarm in addition to the non-optional critical alerts
  • can be read on the sensor or a phone app 
    • turns out my son doesn't have a supported model of phone so we'll be upgrading soon
    • once he has the right phone his numbers can be shared to my phone so I'll get alarms too
  • downloading to a computer is easy and the information is presented well, easy to read, and is already making a difference in how we manage
  • you can add information like when/how much insulin you give, carbs, exercise etc
    • this is a plus but I keep forgetting to do it - I'm so used to writing in the book that it has become automatic but inputting into the sensor isn't happening consistently yet
Things we aren't loving:
  • alarms - These are a plus for me but they are a challenge for N.  He has mostly been relying on the adults to manage his numbers and make sure he stays in range.  We may insist he have extra water or ask that he take a break from the computer and get some physical time and he is always very easy going about it but he hasn't really been paying attention to why we make these requests.  With the alarms he is the one who gets the alarm and reads the message.  He then comes to me to figure out what we should do.  Again, this is a plus because I am able to discuss what is happening, why, and what to do but for him the first few days has been more stressful.
  • Stickiness - he has been wearing his dexcom for three full days with light activity.  We are on social isolation due to covid-19 so he isn't going to school and we aren't really leaving our house.  The sticky tape holding his device in place started peeling up on day two and it is supposed to keep the device in place for 10 days.  Thankfully we have amazon delivery and we've just received some over-patches to try to keep it in place for the duration.  We'll see how they do.
Now for the reason we got the dexcom in the first place; it is supposed to help us do a better job of staying in his range.  Turns out when you have more data/information, you realize you weren't managing things as well as you'd thought.  When we were only taking data every three hours, before a meal, (and of course the middle of the night data) we were seeing that most of the time he was in range.  We were feeling pretty confident.  That's probably why they don't want you to start of on a CGM because the learning curve would feel much steeper.  Now that we have the Dex we see that we are spiking after meals, sometimes into the 300+ range!  He also hangs out in the mid 200 range for about 2.5 hours at dinner and comes back into range just before the 3 hour mark.  So we used to think we were doing well at our dinner management but hmmm not so awesome.

The positive to all of this is that knowing is helping us to make adjustments.  We've pushed his wait between insulin and eating to 20 minutes and that made a noticeable difference in the severity of the spike in numbers.  The first day we just did our normal thing and didn't worry about things.  Day two we started paying attention and thinking about adjustments.  Yesterday we made adjustments to the wait between insulin and eating and also some changes to the bedtime snack options.  Today I looked at all those graphs on my computer and see the benefit of the changes and where we need to keep adjusting. 

It is a whole new game having the continuous glucose monitor.  Turns out I've gotten a benefit from the corona virus, we are home and able to spend time figuring this new information out and how to manage better with some time on our hands.  There's that unexpected good in an otherwise unfavorable situation.

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