Wednesday, February 6, 2013

CGM life

I use my continuous glucose monitor ALL the time.

I've found that, when I'm using it, I am more likely to head off rises before they get too high. When I hit 130 mg/dL I bolus and I'm able to turn it around. The days that I have taken a day off are almost always days that I spend more time out of range. All that to say, it's become one of my essential tools for keeping me where I need to be throughout the day. (Notice I didn't say night?)

However... it has caused me some problems too. It wakes up my wife at night. And, it's not to save my life. There are many unnecessary alarms at night, and they don't wake me up. The sound it makes is too high-pitched for me to hear. Carol hears it, and it completely interrupts her sleep. When I say unnecessary alarms, I'm not kidding... Normally the alarms that are waking her/us up are for calibration, low-reservoir, or low battery. It's the kind of stuff that can wait a few hours till morning.

Since these types of alarms are not "live-savers", I've chosen fitful sleep for both of us. A few months ago I discovered the setting called "silence all alerts". It's perfect. I set it for a duration of 8 hours and the thing shuts up completely till I get up in the morning. It's basically saved our co-sleeping marriage. But... I have to remember to do this every night before going to bed, and I  resent it. I feel like I already have enough pre-slumber tasks that I have to remember... take the dog out, lock the doors, turn out the lights, test blood sugar, calibrate the sensor... silence the alerts.

Here's what I think Medtronic should do to get this right:
I need a louder, lower frequency alarm, so that people with high-frequency hearing loss can hear it. The alarm is like a mosquito ring-tone that my kids can hear from the next room, and I can't hear from 2 ft. away. My students can hear it and I can't. If I'm in a noisy environment I don't hear it. To be honest, because it also vibrates, I don't really need to hear it. Most of the time, I've gotten the vibration alert, read the screen and then ignored it... and then it starts freaking out...

We should be able to choose time periods when we want certain alarms to be active. During sleep, I don't want petty calibration alerts to wake me. The data collected is not more important than sleep. I am glad I have the option to "silence all alerts" while sleeping, but I have to do it every darn night... and if I forget, I'm in trouble with my beloved.

The "new sensor" warm-up period is poorly timed. It requires a 3 hour warm up before calibration, and then asks for a second calibration in 3 hours. This means that if you start a new sensor, or re-start an old sensor, within 6 hours of going to bed (so for me, after 3pm) I will be awakened by another calibration request in the middle of the night. The only way I can get by this is by turning the sensor off until the morning, or silencing the alerts.

Oh, and also... I'm looking forward to not hitting large blood vessels with the sensor harpoon and dribbling blood for 10 minutes. It doesn't happen that often, but once every 6 weeks is often enough. I hear that the recent developments make this an outdated practice. I can't wait to get with the times. I'm patiently waiting for Enlite.

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