I got the news back in October of 2011 that my insurance was now going to cover a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I had looked into it the prior year but my insurance previously would not cover it. Well, I take that back. They would cover it but I needed to fall under certain conditions in order to be approved. While I can’t remember right now what all the conditions were, the one that sticks with me is the condition where I needed to have several blood sugars under 50. Under 50!?!? I never let myself get below 80. So, for the longest time I had lost all hope that I would be able to try out the new technology. After some time has passed from receiving the initial bad news, I decided to try again and see if anything had changed. Miraculously, my insurance had adjusted their views on the CGM and decided to cover it in full. I had read a lot about them and after waiting a while to finally be approved, I was so excited.
That excitement quickly subsided when I actually received the CGM in November 2011. For starters, I was not a fan of my CGM trainer. I felt like she gave a very quick tutorial and was not very knowledgeable on living with a CGM. I wish they would send out actual Type 1 Diabetics for training so you can ask them what it’s like to wear the device on a daily basis. When the trainer was showing me how to insert the sensor, we only got to practice with one sensor because I guess they couldn’t afford any more. We first practiced with that one sensor a few times on a padded mouse pad and then it was time to put a fresh one in my stomach. Once the sensor was in, it took forever for the light to blink on the CGM (which means it’s connected). The trainer tried to tell me that it was because my site wasn’t wet enough and sometimes that happens when your blood sugar is too low. I tested my blood sugar and it was 200 but the trainer told me to drink OJ because maybe my blood sugar was on the way down. I though this was terrible advice because I would never “treat” a 200 reading but I did what she said and it still didn’t “connect”. We waited around 30 minutes for the light to finally come on and then she left.
With the Minimed Paradigm Real-Time Reveal system, which is my CGM brand, it takes two hours to calibrate after the sensor is inserted. Since my trainer left before it was time to calibrate, I did my first calibration on my own. I am not sure what the problem was but the first few days I had the CGM, I could not get it to calibrate very well. I’m not sure if this is with all CGMs or just mine but the sensor reading was never very close to my actual blood glucose reading (Luckily, I no longer have this problem-my CGM is usually pretty accurate with my blood sugar readings).
In addition to the calibration issues, the first few months with my CGM I had the worst time with inserting the CGM sensor. It would either bleed a ton (I had a few nasty bruises on my tummy), or I couldn’t seem to get the needle out of the sensor or I couldn’t get the inserter separated from the sensor. I called Minimed several times in the beginning with these issues. They tried to help me as best they could and gave me some tips that helped but overall I felt that I was on my own. I tried asking my trainer for help but her advice was not very helpful. During our “training” she told me a story about how one lady she trained, didn’t know to take the needle out after inserting it and kept the needle in for days. This story still baffles me! How on earth could you leave the needle in that long?!
After about 2 weeks I finally gave up on the CGM. I would try it sporadically over the following few months until June 2012 (7 months later) when I realized all the sensors had expired. I went to reorder the sensors and realized how expensive they are (especially since my insurance deductible hadn’t yet been reached-I was responsible for this expense). I decided if I was going to be spending this money, I had better give it a second chance. My husband had the great idea of using ice on my stomach to numb the site before insertion. I tried it out and it didn’t bleed or hurt as much as normal. With the ice’s help, I started to change the CGM every three days and started to get the hang of it. With my confidence in my ability to insert the sensor and the numbing making it hurt less, I became a regular CGM user.
I had a very rocky start to my CGM, but now eight months later, I am addicted to my CGM and couldn’t imagine not using it. I’m glad I was able to stick with it (or actually go back to it and give it another try) because it has definitely helped on my journey to get my AIC Below-Seven. 🙂