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Longest Dexcom Break in Six Years.

“Is it because of the skin thing?” he asked, watching me put the transmitter and receiver on the bedroom dresser.

“Yeah,” I replied, only it wasn’t exactly the truth.  Sure, my skin had some pretty irritated patches from the constant application/reapplication of my CGM sensors, but it was manageable, especially if I was more diligent about rotating my sites.  But it wasn’t just the physical itch or the bulk of another device stuck on me.

I needed to fly blind for a while.

Which sounds ridiculous, because I am lucky as hell to have access to that data insight in the first place.  Twenty-some-odd (they’ve all been odd) years ago, I would have laughed in you face if you told me I could have access to all-day streaming blood glucose data without having to prick my finger ever five minutes.  I remember putting on my first Dexcom sensor and being amazed at the trends alone (the old STS wasn’t up to G4 standards).  Using a CGM helped me corral my blood sugars in pursuit of a happy-baby-range A1C without working in a pile of low blood sugars.  And throughout my pregnancy (and the subsequent raising of my now-not-so-small Bird), the data was beyond useful.  It became indispensable.

But after six years of wearing the sensor almost all the time, feeling like the two hour booting up time frame was an eternity, I needed more than two hours off.  I needed more than two days off.  I needed to take the sensor off and put it on a shelf for a week or two in order to stop leaning on it so heavily and to help retrain my body and my mind to tune in more actively to diabetes.

Because when the sensor is on and throwing data, I trust it.  Trust to the point of crutching out on it, not testing my blood sugar often enough throughout the day and making corrections and meal doses off the CGM data.  (Do as the FDA and Dexcom say, not as I do.  Consult your doctor before ever consulting the likes of me.  See also my Dexcom disclosure.)  For years, the CGM data was making me better at the job of managing my diabetes.  I liked it that way, but in the last few weeks (admittedly, months), I haven’t been doing a good job of staying on top of my diabetes.  Instead, I’m letting the technology take control, when the one at the helm should be me.

Took a break.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

So I took off the sensor about a week and a half ago.  Defiantly, but also half-expecting to cave and put another one on right away.  For the first two days, going to bed at night was the toughest part because of my concern for overnight hypoglycemia.  But I was testing more, and I set an alarm one night to double-check, and then there was this moment when I wasn’t panicking about the lack of data because I had started re-trusting my own ability to do this myself.

Because I can do this. I have done this. This Friday marks 29 years of doing it and doing it and doing it well. I’m in control, despite the work it takes to get there and the patchy moments of “Yeah?”

This afternoon, I’ll pop a new sensor on and watch my glucose live-stream again.  But it will be different because I won’t feel like I’m along for the ride with this diabetes bullshit.  I feel a little more like I am back in the driver’s seat, with technology as my seat belt instead of my airbag.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dan #

    Hi Kerri,

    I understand how you feel. I need to take the time to say, great job and congratulations for reaching 29 years as a member of the stuck-up club. All those many and varied sharps. There are very old cartoons and when the characters had holes in their bodies they would drink pop and it would leak all over the floor! Sometimes we cannot see the stars through the clouds. The stars are still shinning and are still there and hopefully the sky is clearing for you. As always have a great day.

    Dan

    09/9/15; 5:09 pm
  2. Craig #

    I have never heard someone so eloquently describe the thoughts in my head. My sensor battery finally died right before bed the other day so I decided I’d go the evening without my CGM on my bedside. I was nervous and anxious – having been tethered to my Dexcom for 3+ years now…i was dependent. I thought my blood sugar would drop during the night and I wouldn’t have an alarm to wake me up. So, I ate a bunch of honey and rode the high through the night so I wouldn’t die.
    Why do I get so worried when I went 25 years without a CGM?? I’ll be taking a long break like you did to get back in tune with my body. Word up.

    09/10/15; 1:41 pm
  3. Denise M #

    I was just dreaming how absolutely wonderful it would be to have ONE day without any gadgets to look at or adjust…no needles either…just one day. I’m not complaining, because I am so very grateful for every single advancement that has helped me get this far..but one day…it would be the closest thing to feeling like I could fly. Thank you for sharing. It is so refreshing and real.

    09/11/15; 2:54 pm
  4. Christine #

    Boy, this perfectly describes my recent situation. I relied on my CGM data so heavily and became so over sensitive to the data, I decided to take a 2-week break – and it was WONDERFUL! It felt great to go back to the Dexcom, but in those two weeks I realized I could take a little break and still do okay. I am about to hit my 25th year mark of having diabetes, and I realize more and more as each year goes on how important these types of breaks can be.

    09/11/15; 4:14 pm

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