FFL/CwD, UK 2014 Part 2; Continuous Glucose Monitoring

More from the Friends for Life Conference UK 2014.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring: 
What Difference Does it Make?

presented by Lesley Jordan & Melissa Holloway from INPUT
Lesley is the Chairperson of INPUT, I would recommend Irish people who are considering the transition to an Insulin Pump or to a Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems (CGM) to have a look at their website. They have a step-by-step guide on how to get either of these devices. Don't be put off by the references to the NHS because in my experience of getting an insulin pump all the other steps are the same.
I went to this talk because I'm currently trying to get the CGM to add to my Animas Vibe Insulin pump. I wanted to gather information so that I could campaign to get it funded by the HSE.

In Ireland, the HSE will fund this if you have either severe hypo unawareness or nocturnal hypos. If I don't qualify I may be to fund it myself. It costs approximately €600 (for a transmitter & 4 sensors) to start and then approximately €240 per month but I think I can make the sensors last longer than 2 weeks and therefore reduce this cost. It cost a bit more if you don't already have the Animas Vibe because you would have to buy a receiver and also have to buy the package from a different company.

The other people attending this talk wanted to hear from others about how it have benefitted them and how they could get the NHS to fund it better.

How does a CGM benefit people with type 1 diabetes?

  • CGM's have a "Trend" feature which not only gives you a Blood Glucose reading but arrows that indicate which direction our blood glucose is going and how quickly. This feature can help you head off hypos and hypers before they become problematic.
  • A CGM can improve your blood glucose by helping you to narrow the range of your blood glucose results. Basically, smoothing out the rollercoaster of ups & downs.
  • Since the Dexcom 4 came out they prove that the sensors are more reliable and the information is more reliable from the readings. Indeed blood glucose meters have a 20% inaccuracy rate and cgms are now better than that.
  • CGM’s are important because diabetes is not the same every day now matter what. A CGM can help you with all the factors that influence blood glucose that you cannot control.
  • Using a CGM is like having a movie versus a photo. BG is the photo, it gives you the information of that moment in time, where as a CGM/movie gives you a lot more of the story.
  • It eases the anxiety around hypos and gives you the power to head them off.
  • It gives you the ability to aim for tighter targets without increasing the risk of hypos.
What did I learn?

  • I learned about Standard Deviation (or bell curve). I'm ashamed that I'm only learning this now. Standard Deviation shows you how often your blood glucose control is not in range. HbA1c is only an average number and while my current HbA1c is 50 mmol/mol (or 6.7%) my actually readings swing very high and very low. My HbA1c number is telling my that my control is good when it is not. Here is a better explanation of standard deviation and why it's important.
  • I learned that everybody should have access to CGM's. Children especially, should have access!!!
  • I learned that one of the options open to me is to fund the CGM myself, gather data on how much better my control is and then use that data to strengthen my case for HSE funding.
More about the Friends for Life UK next week.