I know what you are thinking, what is CGM ? Well it stands for a continuous glucose monitor.
It’s not exactly new technology but it is not available on the NHS and its bloody expensive. Hence the reason it is not widely used although the benefits for the right patient can be life changing and can help stabilise diabetes and therefore reduce the chance of complications.
It’s not beneficial for every one, it certainly is for me as it lets you analyse how you body reacts to glucose and insulin intake. Then make the necessary changes.
So why do people take their blood glucose levels?
Diabetes type 1 is where the pancreas stops producing insulin so you have to self administer insulin. Because of this you experience fluctuations of blood glucose within the blood stream. If you go to high you feel rubbish and if you go low diabetics become lethargic, sweat, shake, become confused etc. Some diabetics who have a low in public can often be confused by someone who is drunk. Having a serious low can be dangerous and in fact if left untreated for some time the body can shut down leading to death.
Traditionally, diabetics use regular blood tests to keep track of their levels. The aim is to try to keep it within subscribed limits. For me it’s between a level of 9 and 4. We are all different.
You will see below a typical blood test !
First prick the finger, offer it to the test strip and bang, 8.9. Just under my upper figure.
So you are asking what is different between a CGM and this type of test.
Well its quite easy really. The standard test only tells you what your levels are at the point of the test. So the more often you test the more knowledgeable you are. However to be fair to get a really accurate bunch of readings and to discover a trend you would have to take readings every 30 mins ! Can you imagine the state of fingers after a month,.
If you can discover a trend and what direction you are traveling then you can react appropriately and this is where CGM really comes in.
CGM takes readings every few minutes so you can see trends and patterns and allow you to make decisions.
CGM is what I use and it has really helped me with control as I can constantly adjust food and insulin. Its made a big difference to my life and hopefully I have reduced the potential of any later in life complications.
So I weear a device which sticks to my skin and a tiny hair like thread is inserted into my bodily fluid, ok it’s not in the blood so it runs 15 mins behind my actual blood readings but the most important thing for me is the trend.
Here is a sensor, you can just see the little “hair” in the middle.
So now I have told you what it’s all about and I can tell you what happened.
I went to bed as normal within target after a ride, I awoke as normal and one of the first things I do is take a swipe of my reader and it tell me what has been happening for the last 8 hours whilst I have been asleep. It showed “low” which means a serious hypo (lack of glucose)
So what do you do ? You eat some fast acting glucose. This is exactly what I did and gobbled down the obligatory 5 jelly babies and awaited the result.
Nothing happened after 20 minutes so I stupidly had some more ! Yum yum some jelly babies.
It became obvious that there was a problem as there was no change in glucose levels. So I did what I should have done when it first showed an odd reading. That was a real blood test. I did this and I was 14 following all the jelly babies.
So it had gone out of calibration so it was no good !! Arghhhh
I fitted my spare (I always have a spare but due to the costs I don’t have them loitering my medical box)
However the sensor would not start so I was left with none and had to go back to the old-fashioned way until I got replacements. Thankfully the company who sells and supports that system replace faulty sensors. But for 4 days I was sensors naked which makes checking on the go whilst riding Charlie difficult as you can’t take blood whilst riding !! I will explain this experience on my next blog.