Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Life as a Bionic Woman

Being constantly hooked up to a machine almost never crosses my mind. I am so used to my life the way it is. Adding a second component to my machine lifeline seemed weird at first but since Friday, I have decided that I love the continuous glucose monitor!
In the beginning I felt completely disconnected from the world. I understood that I only needed to check my blood sugar with my glucometer twice a day to calibrate the sensor. So I came home on Friday ready for lunch. But I couldn't find any blood sugar readings on my pump. I found graphs but there was no data. Hubby was in meeting after meeting so I couldn't get a hold of him. I was about to give up and call the Mini Med rep to sheepishly admit my own stupidity but decided to email a text message to Hubby instead. Then the data finally started and I quickly emailed back that all was well.


With the push of one button I could instantly see a blood sugar reading as well as a graph showing my blood sugar trends. I learned that if my blood sugar was rising there was an arrow pointing up. If it was rising quickly there were two arrows. The same was true if my blood sugar was dropping. I loved how easy it was to see where I was as often as I wanted to. I was checking out the graphs obsessively all day Friday. It was just too cool.


The absolute best part for me was when I woke up early one morning feeling hot, sweaty and shaky. It's a feeling that words don't describe very well but I know that feeling as low blood sugar. Many times I have woken up and instantly known I was dropping very low without really even consciously feeling some of the classic low blood sugar symptoms. But the best part about having the CGM sensor in my side was pushing the ESC button on my pump to instantly see that yes, I was low and was dropping. So I ate my fruit snacks that are always by the side of my bed and was able to go back to sleep. Without the sensor I would have eaten and gone back to sleep. But sometimes I wake up for the day with high blood sugar because I didn't need that much of a snack. Or sometimes I wake up for the day with a low blood sugar reading again and I wish I had tested to document the two low numbers. The CGM captured everything! I love it.


The sensor is no longer in my body. I had it removed this morning. The office staff printed out several pages of data for my chart and they made a copy for me. So Hubby can go nuts with his analytical skills.
The sensor was fantastic until I turned it into a snarling mess right before going to the doctor's office. I checked my blood sugar right before breakfast. But like an idiot, I completely forgot to bolus for my carbs. (Sadly, I used to be sharp, witty, and on top of things mentally. Then I had 3 kids!) In the shower I was starting to feel like my blood sugar was dropping. When I got out I tried to remember if I even bolused for breakfast. Checking my bolus history showed that no, my last bolus was for dinner last night. But I was indeed dropping low. I wasn't too concerned since this is pretty common. Especially on days when I don't exercise. Weird, I know. So I had a snack maybe 45 minutes before I was supposed to calibrate the sensor. Oops. Now I know why Dave (Mini Med rep) told me to calibrate before eating!


I tested and got a reading of 240. My pump showed my blood sugar at 73 and dropping. Hmm, that was a pretty big discrepancy. So I tested again. I got a reading of 237. Ok, I'm high but probably because I just ate. One thing I learned with the sensor was that my stomach doesn't read my blood sugar as quickly as my fingers do. So if I was low before a meal it would take a pretty long time for the sensor to catch up and read the food in my bloodstream. I assumed that was what was happening this morning. Well, about 30 minutes or so later, my pump starts buzzing like crazy. I was about to turn out of the neighborhood at this point. So I stop and my pump is giving me a warning that the calibration wasn't good. Try again. So I test. I'm still over 200. The pump wasn't reading my blood sugars because it was trying to calibrate. I thought by that time my body would have recognized the food I had eaten an hour or more earlier.


I drove on figuring if there was a problem my pump would warn me once I made it to the doctor's office. The drive doesn't take that long. My pump started buzzing like crazy and there was nothing I could do about it. I was on the freeway! By the time I pulled into the parking lot ready to test again and try to recalibrate, my pump had the warning: Bad Sensor. That made me laugh a little. There was no icon on the screen indicating that the sensor was communicating with my pump. I cleared the warning, got my kids out of the van (my plans for babysitters fell through and I knew it would be a really short visit), and was ready to tell whoever that I totally messed up the sensor!


Dave held the door open for me so I could get my entourage inside. I was surprised to see him since I had talked to him yesterday about bringing the kids and he said he wouldn't be there. He thought I would go in the afternoon. Anyway, I told him I messed up the sensor! He said it was ok and we both awkwardly waited in the teeny waiting room for one of the receptionist/nurses to say they were ready to take me back to another teeny room. Having Baby Girl in her stroller was good because it kept her contained but the stroller was pretty big for how small that office is. The girls behind the desk said hi and then realized I had all my kids with me. So then they had to peer over the counter at my children and ooh and ahh over them. Then my doctor walks over to see what all the commotion was about and one girl says something about my kids. He looked and seemed like he thought they were cute. My favorite part was when he looked up at me and said, "Are these all yours?" I love living in California where I am considered an anomaly. I am young for having kids and I have 3 of them. Two years apart! And yes, I planned it that way!!!!


Once the circus side show lost its appeal I went into a room where the nurse removed the sensor. She asked where my paperwork was. My heart stopped a little. I didn't remember being given any. She was ready to give Dave a good talking to which made me feel bad. But he explained to her that she was thinking of a different kind of sensor and he showed her how to download the info from my pump.


I got the info and Dave asked a couple of health questions he normally asks over the phone. Like age, height and weight. He was so embarrassed to ask me face to face such personal questions. But it was all to see if my insurance will cover me having a CGM sensor. Normally he would call but I was right there so he was able to email himself from his phone. Anyway, I'm hoping I can get one because that was very cool. He asked me to fax him 4 days of blood sugars. Then he told me that if at all possible I need to have a couple readings below 50 because that is a magic number for the insurance companies. I told him I guess I could try exercising when I know I'm already dropping low. He said he will work with whatever I give him. I hope he doesn't have to lie for me. I will do my best but I don't drop below 50 very often. It's the worst feeling in the world when I do. Those are the times I eat until I feel better even though I know I'm not supposed to.


Living my life according to numbers on machines is interesting. But it keeps me alive and that's why I do it. My kids know how scared I get about changing my pump sites. Younger Son said something about me thinking it was scary. I agreed that it is scary for me. He said, "It keeps you alive?" I told him yes and that's why I do it. I am Bionic Woman. Hear me roar!

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