There are times when I think that maybe my hypoglycemia unawareness is made up, or all in my mind, or that it’s overblown and exaggerated. “Pfffft, you can go without a Dexcom for a few hours, because you’ll totally feel any lows that crop up,” is the mantra that runs through my head when I pull a sensor off and see scaly skin, knowing I should wait before even going near the skin with another sensor. (The Dexcom adhesive/sensor rash isn’t entirely better, but mostly better. The Toughpad underneath the sensor holds it for at least seven days, and more often than not, I’m able to go approximately ten days per sensor.)
But the thing is, I shouldn’t let things go that long. I should be pulling the sensors at the seven day mark, to avoid mangling my skin and forcing myself into brief CGM hiatuses.
I tend to wear my sensors in the same region of my body (outer thigh), where there is enough real estate to work with, but not enough to work with exclusively. The time between sensor reapplications, whether it’s a week or more, isn’t enough time for my skin to fully heal. Sometimes a skin reaction doesn’t occur and the skin that was trapped underneath the Toughpad for a week is still unmarked and supple, so I can stick another sensor in whenever I’m ready. Usually, regardless of how the skin looks when I pull off a sensor, I rotate to the other thigh and try to pick a different insertion spot, just to keep things on the up and up. And sometimes, even when the skin looks good after I pull a site, it sometimes turns red, prickly, bumpy, and scaly a day or two afterwards, and remains scaly for several days. (I apply this Curel lotion to my scaly skin and it helps quite a bit.)
I have trouble – lots of it – pulling a sensor off simply because it’s hit the seven day mark. If that sensor is stuck, and the results are good, I want to leave it on as long as possible. I feel like the longer a sensor is on, the more accurate and precise it becomes. Days 8, 9, and 10 are always spot-on and I feel confident in the results because they not only match up with my meter for spot-checks, but they consistently match up. Seeing more than a 15 point spread between my Dexcom number and my blood sugar meter check is a rarity in those date ranges.
Frustrating, to say the least, to pull of a sensor that seems to be working just effing fine, thank you very much.
I need to take better care of my sites, because for every long sensor shelf (leg?) life, I’m paying for it on the other side with scaly, un-useable skin. Which equals out to needing to let the sites breathe for even 18 hours or so every few weeks.
Which ends up resulting in moments like this today: Sitting in the parking lot at the bank, chewing and swallowing glucose tabs as fast as I can because the blood sugar of 41 mg/dL came out of no where and the only reason I even tested my blood sugar before driving home was because Birdy asked me if she could have a snack and I wanted to have a snack, too. I had no idea my blood sugar was tanking. Even in retrospect, the only symptom I had was a clumsy fumble for my meter in my purse, but I initially blamed the fumbles on cold hands.
I chomped the hell out of those glucose tabs – not out of shaky, panicky hypoglycemic symptoms, but the lack thereof.