Managing Diabetes in the Dark

I’m so fortunate to have a fully funded continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for over two years. It’s made a huge difference in helping me manage my type 1 diabetes. Without it I feel like I’m managing diabetes in the dark. Relying on finger checks is like having a few photos. Continuous glucose information is like seeing all of a movie.

Last week, the battery in the transmitter component of my cgm system died and I spend 4 days without continuous glucose information while waiting for a replacement. 

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I really did find those few days peaceful without the never ending alarms telling me my glucose levels were too high, low, or falling rapidly. I made a conscious decision to manage my diabetes the way I did before my cgm days by only checking on my meter 7 times per day, unless driving. This meant that I didn’t know what my levels were in between those seven checks. I also had no idea when I did those checks if my glucose levels were going up, down or staying put for the moment.

When I did perform checks my numbers were terrible. I imagine my time spent in range went from 60% to more like 25%.

On the first night, as I was heading to bed, my glucose levels were 6.0 mmols. This is a good number but I had no idea if my glucose levels were going to stay there. 

Was this a 6.0 and holding steady and good to go to sleep?
Was this a 6.0 and trending down and in need of a a small snack to keep it up?
Or was this a 6.0 trending up and in need of just a smidge more insulin?

Without continuous glucose technology I had no way of knowing.

I chose to go to bed and hoped that if I did have a low glucose reaction (hypo) during the night that I would wake up to treat it instead of sleeping through it and waking with a massive hypo hangover headache the next morning. I’m not going to go into what the worse case scenario would have been.

Day two, three and four without my CGM went downhill from there. I couldn’t bring myself to do extra finger prick checks to stay on top of my diabetes. It wasn’t laziness either it was just a pain in the finger to grab my checking kit, find somewhere to wash my hands each time and a flat surface to rest my kit on. 

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Thankfully, I’m back in business with continuous glucose information and while my glucose levels are not wonderful they are much better. I probably glance at my cgm screen 10 times per day and therefore able to be proactive in my diabetes management again.

I am so very grateful to have my CGM and my heart is breaking because of all the people with type 1 diabetes who don’t have access to technology like this.

I know for certain that there is no way I could manage my diabetes effectively without a cgm and I wish others didn’t have to.

If you haven't already signed this petition "Equality for All People with Type 1 Diabetes" in Ireland, please consider doing so.