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Dexcom Real Estate: Lower Back Edition.

For the better part of the last seven years, I’ve been wearing my continuous glucose monitor sensor on my outer thigh.  I rotate this site in terms of not placing the next sensor right on top of where the old one was, but for the most part, my legs dominated CGM real estate choices, and I liked it that way.

I don’t mind wearing devices, but I keep them off my torso.

Except that it’s way past time for the skin on my legs to have a moment to heal.  Normally, the only two hours I go without sensor data is when the new sensor is queuing up, and taking breaks from Dexcom makes me uneasy because it pulls my glucose meter readings out context. (“180 mg/dL?  Yeah, but is that going up or going down or holding steady?”)  But there’s a long history of use, and even the short history of adhesive rash has taken its toll on the integrity of my skin.

My legs needed a freaking break.  Another part of my body needed to step up.

I’ve worn my sensor on my back in the past, and it wasn’t horrible.  Chris would help me stick the sensor on, and daily wear wasn’t awkward as I working in an office and didn’t have anything climbing me on a regular basis.  Fast-forward to now and I work at home where there is a very lively four year old who wants to climb and hug and be silly and occasionally use the Dexcom transmitter as a ladder rung leading towards a mom hug, and that makes for a lot of “WHOA” and then “OW” moments.  For me, it’s tough to keep sensors stuck on, and wearing them on my arms and torso causes adhesive peeling on day two or three, instead of day six or seven with the thigh-placed sensors.  (And I hate pulling a sensor off before the seven day mark.)

But a leg break is a leg break, so when the sensor on my leg quit yesterday morning, I installed a new one on my lower back (left hand side towards the back, in that place where you’d put your hands if you were admonishing someone for painting the wall with hard-boiled eggs, for example).  It was the first non-thigh Dexcom sensor placement in at least four years … perhaps more.

This new placement hurt like a [descriptive gif here].  Even though the sensor installation is designed to be done in one, fluid motion, I always do it really slowly (like I did my injections as a kid) in this effort to control the sting.  So the insertion needle hit my skin and it had a bite, and once the whole sensor was installed, I was standing at a weird angle and nervous to straighten my spine because it felt like the sensor would grab all of my internal organs and take a bite.  (Exaggeration.  I straightened up a few seconds later and even though the site was tender, no internal organs were nibbled upon.)  It took about three hours for the placement to feel “settled,” in that it didn’t bother me to sit on the couch or brush up against the sensor.

Thankfully, this morning the site feels completely comfortable, and my over-used legs have a week or two to heal.  Expanding my real estate options is a definite diabetes plus.  I just need to keep reminding Birdzone not to use it as a stirrup.


9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Allison #

    I was just showing my husband yesterday how my 10-month-old likes to use my Dexcom (on the back of my right bicep while my left bicep gets a break) as a hand-hold to stabilize himself when I’m carrying him on my right hip. I have to use my Omnipod on my left-abdomen or my left-back to keep it safe. My kiddo is solid and my left arm isn’t strong enough to easily carry him – so that’s the safe zone for the pods for now. Fortunately I haven’t had any Dexcom casualties from the handling (yet). Always an orchestration with diabetes!

    04/28/14; 10:23 am
  2. Neal #

    I love using my lower back for my pump sites. It was difficult while my kids (now 8 & 3) were younger. Now that my 3 is a big girl .. I don’t have to worry about holding her. I think I will try the dexcom there next just to see how I like it.

    04/28/14; 1:04 pm
  3. Tim Easterling #

    I love how you explain things. It really make me feel like I was there watching everything. I take care of my son (6) with T1D. We have been thinking about a CGM but it is going to cost us $1,000 after the insurance. I am trying hard to find that money.

    Things have gotten bad and sad at our house. Mom left for another man a few weeks ago. It has been a tough adjustment for us and all of the things that go with that. She really never took care of him when it came to diabetes so I was and am afraid that she will not do the right thing. She never got up for the 2AM checks. I have noticed that she has missed a few in just the short time we have been apart. That doesn’t surprise me as she really didn’t when she was here. For spring break she told me she was going to give me a break but only got up one of the seven days.

    We still have a lot to do to finish this path that we are on. She graduated college on Saturday. That was something that we had been working on together for six years. It was hard not to be there. That was a finish line that we were suppose to cross together. Time to pull up the sleeves and start pulling harder.

    Please keep us in your thoughts. Keep the blog rolling I have learned so much from the things that you post. I am sorry for the life story. I find it hard not to share lately.

    04/28/14; 1:07 pm
  4. karend1 #

    You are so brave

    04/28/14; 10:14 pm
  5. I normally keep sensors on my butt because it’s really not a viable pod site, but last night I had to switch it up and put it back in my outer thigh. I can’t seem to do the insertions quickly to save my life. I do them slowly and thus draw out the pain.

    04/29/14; 10:32 am
  6. Annie #

    My 11 month old son LOVES using my sensor as a stepping stone – OUCH!!!! Unfortunately – I am like a Mrs. Potato Head – very skinny arms and legs and a thicker torso so cannot use sensor on arms and legs. I have heard somewhere that some people use their breast tissue – no thank you!!!!

    04/29/14; 5:12 pm
  7. Kris #

    I have always put my pump sites on my hips. I started doing the same with my CGM when I started it back in December. I cannot even imagine putting in on my legs…ouch! I may have to make that switch soon though! I guess I’ll get to see what it’s like for it to be used as a stepping stone once my little guy is here and big enough to wiggle around. 🙂 Personally can’t WAIT for that right now!

    04/30/14; 3:17 pm
  8. Torso (back and front) are infusion only. I use my upper arm for all things Dexcom. It works reasonably well. I found the back painful for sleeping. Only issue with the arm is if I snag it on a t shirt or accidentally go into the muscle.

    My main issue with the torso was sweating them off in exercise. That, and the dexcom didn’t play well with a climbing harness.

    Still, the legs…ouch. I tried that once and only once. I’ve got an admiration for your pain tolerance!

    05/2/14; 9:21 pm

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