Maybe it was because one afternoon had me running outside on the trail near my house (in shorts, mind you) with daffodils threatening to bloom any minute, and the next day I was walking through Providence with gloves and a wool coat and the desire to light myself on fire in efforts to thaw. Did this shift in weather, bouncing from almost-spring to definitely-winter aggravate my sensitive skin? (I'm a delicate flower, damn it.)
Whatever the reason, any surface area of my skin that has come into contact with a Dexcom sensor or pump site adhesive in the last three months was suddenly, and painfully, inflamed Sunday and Monday.
I noticed it first on Friday evening, after being out in Providence for a few hours, walking long enough outside to give my hands that "Hey, you're a 108 year old woman!" chapping. A repeat performance on Saturday had me itching recklessly at my Dexcom sensor, despite the Toughpad that anchored it to my skin. And Sunday morning, after taking a hot shower, I noticed that there were egg-shaped patches of skin, perfectly matching the shape of a Dexcom sensor, raised and itching on my thighs. These patches were accompanied by smaller circles matching my infusion set adhesive, dotting along the back of my hips and my arms.
And the itch? Oh the freaking itch!
"Holy ... is that from your sites?" Chris asked me on Sunday night, seeing the patch on my arm that you could roast a marshmallow over.
"It is. But dude, it was from like December. I don't think I've had a Dexcom sensor on my arm at all this year. It's crazy inflamed right now, and I have no idea why."
"The pump site right near it looks itchy, too," he said, circling me and noting the patchwork of itchy bits and robot parts.
"Itches like mad."
It's been three days, and the hot rashes (sounds so much sexier than it actually is) have calmed down, but only after I peeled off the Dexcom sensor (underneath it was just a touch prickly, but the edges were on fire because they had touched where previous sensors rested) and only after I rerouted a new pump set. (And after slathering my sites with anti-itch creams and hydrocortisone treatments and basically the entire "Itch!" aisle at CVS.) I'm convinced this reaction was a response to the weather change, and how cold weather makes these rashes far worse.
But now what?! I have these makeshift solutions for the sensor, but my skin needs to heal before I can give any of these a go again. And now my pump sites are causing hives? A blustery winter weekend is enough to set my dermis back a few months? I've had issues with adhesive itch in the past (click here for a gross photo from a few years ago), but nothing like what's cropped up since late August.
I thought about ripping the Dexcom off and letting my skin breathe for a few weeks. And then a symptom-free 53 mg/dL slapped me across the face while I was alone with my kid, and that shook my senses loose again. The tighter my blood sugars run, the crummier my hypoglycemic unawareness becomes. I am not willing to take the risk on either side.
I'm longing for summer, when my skin will (hopefully) relax and I can resume my robotic tendencies without all of this surface tension and bid a hopeful farewell to the itch.