Wednesday, April 8, 2009


A CGM is a continuous glucose monitor. It's a cool idea. It gives an up to date accurate reading of one's blood sugar every 5 minutes or so. 24/7. Great idea right? I guess.

My doctor told me about it back in 2006. I thought it was a great idea until I realized how it worked. It's separate from my insulin pump. In fact, it is a separate site from my pump site. So if I were to get a CGM I would have two infusion sets in my stomach. Two little bumps under my shirt or pants (depending on where it is on my stomach at the time) and two little plastic tails coming out of my stomach. The good news is the CGM doesn't infuse anything so I can get away with changing the site every 5 days rather than every 2-3. Also since it doesn't infuse anything into my body, it shouldn't irritate my skin. If I could I would scratch my skin right off. My insulin pump sites itch like crazy ALL THE TIME! When I change the site it feels like a mosquito bite. Kind of looks like one too. Well, maybe if the mosquito was the size of a humming bird. I have been known to scratch old sites until they bleed. So the idea of having another piece of plastic poked into my skin is not thrilling to me.

I got my first insulin pump days before Hubby and I started dating. He watched the tutorial video with me and set up all my pump settings for me. It was like a cool toy to him. Thank heavens because I'm slow to learn new technology. Well, I was a big girl (meaning I was 22 years old) so did everything myself. I pushed a button on the infusion inserter that shoved a needle into my stomach like a dart. Then I taped around the needle and pulled the needle out leaving a very short and small flexible cannula in my stomach for a couple of days. Then I would do it all over again in a few days when the insulin ran out.

This process was absolutely horrifying to me. I can test my own blood sugar no problem. Pushing that button doesn't scare me at all and really it never did. The lancet is thicker and looks more like a medieval torture device than any syringe or needle I've put into my body to inject my daily dose of insulin. But even then I've never had a problem poking my finger. Injecting insulin was more traumatizing. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes over Labor Day Weekend, 3 months before my 10th birthday. Because of my age I was expected to give my own injections. I stayed in Primary Children's Hospital for a full week because I was not allowed to go home until I could give my own injections. I practiced on oranges, nurses, and my parents (using saline solution of course!) with no problem. But doing it to myself was a different story. I got over my fear by slowly shoving the needle in my arm or leg. I felt more in control when I did it slowly. My family thought I was crazy but they also respected that it worked for me.

So the insulin pump was a scary thing because the inserter button is an all or nothing thing. There is no slowly pushing a button, although I tried that for a few years. And truthfully, sometimes it hurts while other times I hardly notice anything at all. That fact really played into my fears. Why would I want to push a button that may or may not result in pain?
I agonized over every infusion set change. I would kneel at my bedside sweating while I tried to talk myself into just pushing the button already. Once I let Hubby watch me. It was good for him to see how to do it in case of whatever. But I think he was shocked to see me break out in a cold sweat over it.

Soon after Oldest Son was born I was in the process of trying to change my site. That was the worst day. After an hour of sheer terror and agony over pushing a button, I still hadn't done it. I was a sobbing mess by the time Hubby came in to help me. But I was so worked up by then that it took another hour of me crying hysterically before I let him do it for me. We made a pact then and there that he would always push the button for me and pull out the needle. I have done it for myself maybe 2 or 3 times when it was necessary due to the infusion set coming out on its own or the cannula getting bent so I was not getting any insulin and Hubby wasn't home. But it was only because I managed to push the button before I convinced myself to call a neighbor for help. Now if there is an emergency I make Oldest Son or Younger Son push the button for me and I take a deep breath to take the needle out on my own.

I know. Bravery is not my strong point. I fully plan on spending my last days in a full care facility as I battle some sort of mental illness. I'm actually not kidding.

So back to the CGM. Like I said, I first was introduced to the idea in 2006. I have never had insurance that would cover it. Secretly I have been so glad for that! For the last couple of months Hubby has been trying to get me to tell my doctor I want to do a trial with the CGM just so we could get a better idea of what's going on with my blood sugars. I finally remembered to say something yesterday. My doctor didn't act like it was necessary. So I freely admitted that I wasn't interested in it other than just to see more information. The nurse called the Mini Med representative that they work with. And she called me today to tell me that he will be in their office on Friday. I'm supposed to go back then to get all my gear.

Shoot me now! I'm not thrilled but I agreed to the appointment. Then when I got off the phone I had a flashback to the summer of 2000, when I was sitting in the doctor's office with a Mini Med representative as he made me hook myself up to the pump. When I was nervous to "push the button" he tried to tell me it was no big deal and most of the reps hook themselves up to a pump that infuses saline solution just so they know how it feels and what it's like to have a pump. His little speech didn't help at all!

I can just see it. I will have to do this myself and frankly I don't want to. I'm all about honesty nowadays. I don't care what anyone thinks of me. I am 31 years old. I don't play sports because I'm afraid of the ball and I'm too uncoordinated. My phobias include (but are not limited to) spiders, wide open spaces, large crowds, driving, public, and pushing needles into my stomach. Judge all you want but I'm not inserting the CGM myself!

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