LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hook up

What is my blood sugar you ask? Well I don't know, let me check. Click. 172 right now. What was it five minutes ago you ask? Let me check. Click. Also 172. I can scroll backwards in time five minutes per button click. Pretty nifty. With another click I can switch to 30 minutes slices of life instead of five minute slices. Thirty minutes ago I was at 150. An hour ago at 148. An hour and a half ago at 129. OK, the numbers are nothing to be proud of, but the technology is pretty impressive!

In fact there are a lot of nifty things about my new Guardian...way to many to cover all of them tonight. Yes, it did come. By noon I had panicked and called Medtronic. Turns out they recently switched to UPS as a shipper but my contact there was still in the habit of saying FedEx. No problem, I put away my FedEx Truck Voodoo Doll and scanned the horizon for my friendly local UPS man.

He came early, for UPS, with two big boxes. The larger of the two was like one of those gag gifts with consecutively smaller boxes inside of each other. This was the cool pack. Three inches of white Styrofoam. Two large frozen gel packs. At the center of a box that was more than a foot on each side are ten tiny sacks of sensors. Still plenty cool. Straight to the fridge with them. Before anyone panics, they only need to be kept cool prior to use. Just like your insulin vials. They are actually OK to be at room temp for a week, so if you are taking a short trip you can take your next site change with you without worrying about packing ice.

The other box has my equipment. I've been trained and briefed, but I restrain myself and read through the manuals and paper work before hooking up.

This is the hard call for me: insert by hand or use the inserter? I tried an inserter during my training, didn’t hurt me a bit, but it bled like hell. Maybe my angle was wrong, maybe I didn’t pinch enough fat. Who knows? But now I’ve only got ten of these things....I’m used to Smith’s who send me three months of infusion sets at a time. They always seem in abundant supply. Ten sets seems like such a small inventory. I must protect my stash!

The needle is shorter than the Comfort set’s, but easily twice as fat. I decide to try doing it manually first. If I can’t get it in, or if it is too painful, I can always wuss out and use the inserter. I gather up my supplies. The monitor is filled with batteries, programmed and standing by. My infusion set is on my left side, so the right side is designated as my Guardian side. Don’t want all the holes to be on one side.

I wipe the area with alcohol. No IV Prep--it messes up the readings apparently. I grab a pinch of skin, hold the guide needle to the target, take a breath, and....

(You winced, didn’t you?)

I push slow and steady, increasing the pressure bit by bit. More and more. The skin presses down under the tip of the needle, but the needle doesn’t slip through the skin. No major pain yet, but I’m not sure this is going to work..... and then the tip of the fat needle pierces my skin and I smoothly slide it all the way in to the hilt. Took quite a bit more “elbow grease” than I’m used to. But it is in. I’m feeling no pain. No blood.

Next I tape the transmitter to my stomach above the set. I initialize the Guardian, set it to search for the signal, and then I plug the transmitter into the set. In an instant she displays “Success.” We have telemetry. The transmitter and the monitor are talking to each other wirelessly. It will take another two hours to initilaze the sensor, then the sensor and transmitter will feed near constant updates about the status of my blood sugar to the monitor for the next three days.


Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Wil,

Again, I can't thank you enough for sharing all of this with us! It's really great of you.

I have a question about the transmitter that connects to the sensor. You have to change the sensor every 72 hours or so, but the same transmitter is just reconnected to that new sensor right?

How does the transmitter stay on you? Does it have adhesive on it, and if so, how do you handle rotating the sensor sites? Do you have to peel the transmitter off and then stick it back on somewhere? Would you share some details on that aspect of it, maybe when it's time for your first "site change"?


10:35 AM  
Blogger Wil said...

Good questions Scott! Yes, I'll detail the entire process (with pictures!) at my first site change. But in a nut shell, you re-use the same transmitter for a year, only changing the sensors. I'll cover the details on the sticky stuff in a full post in a day or two.

12:39 PM  

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