My experience with a CGM
After my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, I was lost on how to manage my disease.
In the beginning, my doctor and my family members helped me monitor my blood glucose levels. But from there, my blood glucose monitoring evolved on a journey of its own.
How did I first monitor my blood glucose?
In the initial months, I used the old-fashioned and conventional finger-prick method – I drew blood and fed it into a glucose monitor.
This had several drawbacks:
- It was painful and left marks on my fingers.
- It was stressful and totally manual.
- I had to set alarms to check my readings before and after meals.
- My meals had to be very structured.
- I had to manually count the number of carbohydrates I ate, and calculate how many units of insulin I needed to inject based on my current blood glucose level.
In all other aspects of my life I had tech all around me. But when it came to monitoring my blood glucose levels, I was years behind.
Why did I resist CGMs at the start?
At first, I was too confused about my situation.
My type 2 diabetic father, as an older man, was using the conventional finger-prick method, and I simply copied what he was doing.
I had limited knowledge of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). I assumed they weren’t available in my area and had a preconceived notion that CGMs were expensive and difficult to maintain. I feared if I used one, I’d have yet another financial burden on top of my metformin and insulin costs.
Eventually, I got to know more about CGMs. And I discovered the FreeStyle Libre is readily available in South East Asia (you can even get them on Amazon), and it’s not as expensive as I thought.
After dealing with the initial trauma of my condition, and accepting it, I realised that my health is more important than anything – I needed to invest in a good CGM.
What was my first impression of my CGM?
My first impression of my CGM was shock and pleasant surprise.
- The tiny needle was painless and stuck very nicely to my abdomen.
- The backup sensor and monitor were very easy to carry everywhere.
- It synced with my phone and allowed me to better control my blood glucose levels.
- It made my life much, much simpler.
What’s my life like using CGM?
When I shifted to a CGM to monitor my blood glucose levels, my life turned 180 degrees; I became able to manage my diabetes well.
I’ve always been tech-savvy, and I regret waiting so long to move to a CGM – Anyway, better late than never.
Using a CGM, I learned when I needed to start being careful about what I was eating. And using the glucose chart on the CGM monitor, I could predict when I was at risk of hypoglycemia. This helped me avoid multiple hypoglycemic episodes – It’s much easier to see the full picture of your blood glucose patterns with complete statistical graphs.
After I was diagnosed with diabetes and went through diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), I was very afraid and lost a lot of my independence. I’d always been an independent person, but I was so scared about my disease that I relied heavily on my family. I stopped driving alone because I was too afraid of what might happen.
But after converting to a CGM, I got my confidence back. I could drive on my own again, go trekking, take off on long trips, and do everything I did before. My CGM made my life easier and greatly improved the overall quality of my life.
How do I maintain my CGM?
Like any continuous glucose monitor, my FreeStyle Libre 2 requires some general maintenance. I watched YouTube tutorials and read through the FreeStyle Libre website to learn what I needed to do.
- I clean my skin where I need to apply it, and use an adhesive from the same company.
- I can shower while wearing it, but make sure not to fully soak it in water, and sometimes take it off before long showers.
- I carry extra batteries for the monitor.
- I change my sensor every 14 days.
- I make sure I always have a backup with me, especially before travelling.
Why do I still carry a conventional finger-prick glucose monitor?
Even though I have a CGM (and love it), I still carry a conventional monitor with me as well. That’s because sometimes I need to know my instant blood glucose level – CGMs take readings from your interstitial fluid while glucose monitors take readings from your blood, and there’s a slight delay between interstitial fluid glucose levels and blood glucose levels.
I’ve also realised it’s good to have options and backups. For example, sometimes my skin isn’t prepped and ready for the CGM sensor to be applied (it might need time to dry, or heal from the continuous nib insertion) so it’s helpful to be able to use a conventional monitor.
Overall, I think CGMs are great and that all diabetics should try them out!
My experience with my CGM is going very well. And I thank God every day that I have diabetes in this modern time, when such tools are available.
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