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CGM: Sensor Stories From a Snowy Weekend

January 5, 2014

This weekend I got to experience the real benefits of CGM usage, as well as one of its challenges.

I’m about a month into using my Enlite continuous glucose monitor (CGM) from Medtronic. I had some initial difficulties in getting the CGM operational (along with other difficulties, like it lying to me and preventing me from getting a good night’s sleep). 

Friday, though, is got to experience why this piece of equipment is all I’d hoped it would be. Then it was a little bit of a pain. 

First things first, though. Friday we awoke to snow and cold, cold weather. As city dwellers, that leaves us with about 15 feet of sidewalk to shovel. It’s easy, and takes about five minutes total. 

A little after lunch, I went out to shovel. My sensor glucose was in a post-lunch spike at 190. 

“This is good,” I thought. “I can work off some of my lunch.”

I shoveled. I played with Owen (who loved being out in the snow and wanted to shovel all of the snow. If only he weren’t 2). We had some nice family fun time. 

It got exceptionally cold, so we went inside. 

I then checked my pump to see that my sugar was measured at 120, and rapidly dropping. 

Thanks to the CGM, I was able to head off any insulin shock. Huzzah, Enlite sensor!

(Note: With the exception of that post-meal spike, I didn’t experience any other highs over the weekend. No charts to show, as I haven’t uploaded my data yet, but I’m looking forward to looking at my numbers over the past few days.)

Each sensor lasts for six days. They take two hours to warm up, and then need to be calibrated after warmup, and again within the next six hours. With all this, it’s easier to start a new sensor early in the day, so as not to have to wake up in the middle of the night to do the calibrations. 

Anyway, Saturday morning I got my notification that my sensor was coming to an end. (It does this by vibrating and showing the message “SENSOR END.” Subtle.)

I charged the transmitter, and, about a half hour later, started prepping another sensor. It isn’t a terribly difficult process; mostly it involves finding a new spot. 

I’ve been focusing on my hips and upper legs for both the infusion site, and the sensor locations. My most recent sensor location, however, had been on my stomach. I decided to put the new one on my upper thigh. 

I prepped the new area with an alcohol swab, got the new sensor loaded in the inserter and released it, sending it into my leg. 

And then the feeling of fire shot right into my leg. Spreading throughout my thigh. It hurt. A lot. 

I must have caught a nerve. “It’s OK, I can ride this out,” I thought. 

The reason I didn’t want to take the sensor out and try again is because each sensor costs about $100. I’m still using the sensors that were provided with my purchase if the whole system, but I’m not trying to rush to having to buy new ones. 

I made it to dinner, and as we were finishing, I got up to help clear plates from the table with Meg when the sensor caught on my pants and tugged. It felt like the nerve was being pulled out of my leg completely. 

OUCH!

I couldn’t move, and Meg noticed. She pointed out that there’s no point dealing with pain like that. She’s right, of course. I told her I’d change the sensor if it didn’t improve. Fortunately, I wasn’t forced awake by the feeling that my leg was on fire. The same sensor is still in, so I think it’ll make it through the six-day run. 

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