Continuous Glucose Monitoring *CGM*

So I’ve mentioned in post pasts something called a CGM, which, as the title suggests, is a Continuous Glucose Monitor. Whilst I’ve never been too keen on the idea of an Insulin pump, a CGM has also been something I would have loved in my life, but they weren’t widely available on the NHS and weren’t available to buy privately. Until recently.

Freestyle are a company that provide diabetic equipment, including regular finger prick glucose kits, and now the Freestyle Libre. The idea behind it is pretty simple. You insert the sensor just under the skin, kinda like a regular injection, except when you take away the pod, the sensor stays under the skin. It’s recommended that you insert it at the top of your arm, slightly round the back of it. (I’ve taken step by step pics that I’m going to attempt to upload shortly, fingers crossed)

Now, I know it sounds pretty painful and to be honest, the first couple of times I tried it, I made Keith do it for me cause I was too scared to, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how little you feel, there’s a slight ache in your arm for the first hour or two, but you even get use to that eventually. I can do it myself now with no bother, although it can be useful having a second pair of eyes just to make sure you’ve got it all lined up right.

Once the sensor is in, you turn your monitor on, and literally scan over the top of the sensor, and it will ask if you want to start a new sensor, to which you click “Ok” or “Yes” (I can’t remember now I’m sat here typing, admittedly I should have took pictures of that too). It is an hour until the sensor is ready to use, and even then, it is suggested that it’s a full 24 hours before the readings become more accurate as the sensor settles in. Now it’s also stressed that if you think you are having an episode of high / low blood sugar, then you should still do a finger prick check, as the sensor can run up to 15 minutes behind, and I’ve found this to be an issue with a couple of bigger hypo’s I’ve had.

What I love so much about the sensor, apart from the obvious lack of finger pricking, is the sensor can give you an indication of which way your blood sugar is heading. There’s a straight arrow for bloods holding steady, an arrow at a slight incline to show it’s heading slightly higher, or an arrow pointing straight up to indicate a rapidly rising blood sugar. The arrows also point at a slight decline or straight down to demonstrate dropping blood sugar. It’s a really nifty little tool, and my life is so much easier with it. Another plus, is that as all you have to do is scan the sensor, others are able to do it for me easily. For example, a little while ago I was really unwell and struggling to stay awake. Keith, bless him, couldn’t settle for worrying, and ended up staying up most of the night, scanning me at regular intervals and watching over me so I could sleep. I felt so guilty when I woke up and realised what he had done for me, but I also felt relieved that I’d been able to get a full nights sleep without having to set alarms to get up and test my bloods.

There is also a 24 hour graph that shows how your bloods have been continuously, rather than just getting a brief snapshot when you scan. You can set a target range and this shows on your graph, so you can see how much of the time you’re in a good range. On top of this, there is a page that shows what percent of the time you are above / below your target. It is a huge encouragement, being able to see it all in front of you so clearly.

One pretty big downside, and to be honest, one of the only ones I can think of, is the cost. I was lucky enough to have had the starter pack bought for me as a present, but each sensor is about ¬£60 and lasts 2 weeks, so I’m currently spending out ¬£120 a month on sensors, but honestly, it’s worth it. I’m more on top of my bloods, it’s giving Keith some peace of mind that he can check on me without waking me and my ¬†fingers aren’t rock hard and bruised.

As I said, I’m going to try upload some step by step pictures, but I’ve never done that on here before so let’s see how it goes, ha. I’ve been asked to write a post about high and low blood sugars in more detail, so I’ll be working on that over the next few days and will hopefully be back on soon with more insights into the life of a pin cushion!

Thanks for reading, as always x

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This is what you get in a sensor pack. The sensor, the inserter, and some alcohol swabs to clean your arm before injecting.

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You click the blue plastic into the grey, and once it clicks, the sensor is ready to be inserted

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The sensor all up close and personal. It looks all sharp and ominous, but it’s just a fibre, that is actually very flexible and not at all sore.

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Once it’s all ready and you’ve wiped down your arm, line the sensor up and push down firmly. (Please excuse my nails, I’m not usually this much of a ming and this stupid website won’t let me crop out my shame)

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Sensor all in place and ready to use!