When I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 30 years ago, I was overloaded at work and in the process of building a complicated house, so there was an enormous amount of stress in my life. I was working 8-12 hour days (including most Saturdays) and my only hobbies were food and travel. After getting the diabetes news, all I could think was: Oh no, I’m going to become a human pincushion.
I was a jock when I was younger, but after I graduated from college and joined the workforce, I gave up sports and exercise. Even after my diagnosis as an adult I had no interest in getting my body back into shape. I was unwilling to forego delicious (and mostly fattening) foods, so the only way I could stay on course was constant blood sugar monitoring and being diligent about taking my meds.
But every time I pricked myself, which was at least 10-15 times a day, I would wince in anticipation. I don’t have to tell you – it hurts, damn it!
Gradually I tested less and less and my numbers went up and up. I continued to tell myself I could self-monitor no problem, but that was just not the case. My aversion to sticking myself got so bad I couldn’t even do it once a week, so for a long period of time I only checked my blood sugars once a month.
Then I met Dr. Steve Edelman, and if it weren’t from the inspiration I received from him and my other doctor Paul Gamble (both of whom I wanted to make proud) my diabetes would have gotten completely out of control. They listened intently to what I had to say, they weren’t critical if I was non-compliant, and they were encouraging and not judgmental. Most importantly, they seemed to really care about me as a person and not just a patient. As a result, I strived to please them and I started to exercise and watch what I was eating. I was making improvements, but even still my numbers weren’t great.
About two months ago, Dr. Edelman persuaded me to try the Freestyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).
The Libre is made up of two parts: a sensor and a sensor reader. Once the sensor is inserted on your arm (and if I can do it, you can do it!) it takes 12 hours to warm up, and then all you have to do is wave the reader over the sensor and it displays your real-time blood sugar and trend arrows. It doesn’t need calibration, so you know what that means…no more finger sticks! It’s also water resistant and you can wear it for up to 10 days.
So once again I was back to my old ways of being the “Blood Sugar Testing King”, giving my arm a swipe every hour or so, and for the first time in a long time I had a really good idea of how my mental status, physical activities, and food consumption affected my body.
When I was an athlete I was very competitive, but when I stopped playing sports my competitive side turned inward. Now that I’m on the Libre, testing my blood sugar is a contest for me to see how I can stabilize my sugars and keep them down. If I see a high number, I immediately try to fix it by watching what I eat and/or doing some type of moderate exercise. Suddenly I have an “open challenge” – me against the machine – and I don’t like to lose. I love this device and it’s helped me manage my diabetes better than ever. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I know it will take time for more progress, but this device was a game changer for me, and I’ll bet it will be for you too.
The only challenge I’ve had has been with insurance coverage. My diabetes regimen does not include insulin so I’m having a difficult time with Medicare and my supplemental insurance carrier, but I’m doing my part as an advocate and I’m hopeful it will work out. I don’t understand how insurers can have their heads in the sand when they have such an excellent tool at their disposal to assist in the reduction of complications from diabetes. Personally I think everyone with diabetes should have a CGM, and we just have to make our insurance carriers come to the table.