Ode to a CGM

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 11 months old, and I have struggled for almost 46 years to keep control of it. With diabetes, you never get a break.

Although the endless insulin injections and countless fingersticks have never been enjoyable, the most difficult thing to deal with is the frustration. With so many things affecting the glucose numbers, I was always feeling angry and helpless in battling to stay within good blood sugar ranges.

I would read stories of people who have excelled throughout their lives in spite of being diabetic. In some ways, that left me feeling like a failure. Instead of being inspired, I felt ashamed. What was I doing wrong? I didn’t want to be an example to the world. I just hoped to be able to live a decent, happy, somewhat normal life. It seemed like a wish I could never achieve … until …

My insurance company approved me to get the MiniMed Paradigm Real-Time continuous glucose monitor. I received it from the company and set up an appointment with my endocrinologist to learn about dealing with it. I looked at the box. I didn’t even want to open it, and it sat in my apartment until two days before my doctor appointment. I couldn’t even bear to see one more inconvenient, painful contraption that was about to be hooked up to my body. I thought it would feel like being connected to a mobile life support unit! I was very wrong.

It is truly one of the best devices for relieving the frustration of this deadly disease. By having the monitor, I realized that food was far from the only thing that affected my blood sugars. I have had bad nightmares on occasion, and my blood sugar would rise in response. I live alone and was terrified of dropping low at night.

With the monitor, I have preset ranges that alert me when there are dramatic rises or falls in my numbers. I can actually prevent lows as well as highs. I can see the effects of a bad day at work or the stress and anxiety of car repairs on my blood sugars. I can exercise without fear of falling too low. I can sleep at night peacefully without fear that I won’t wake up in the morning. I can do it all by myself! I can live alone. I can do things, eat things, live the most normal life I have ever known. I have a chance now, and I can only imagine the complications this device would have alleviated if I’d had it years ago.

It does have its disadvantages. You are attached to it. It’s another reminder that you have a disease that is trying to kill you. But it is so worth it. Once you get by the reluctance of it being attached to your body, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with it. For the first time, I am looking forward to my next A1C. The frustration is gone. I’ve never known that. It isn’t so challenging anymore to keep within good glucose ranges. It’s the best weapon I’ve ever experienced in fighting this fierce enemy called diabetes. We have a chance. We can live any kind of life we want!

Saundra A. Gattuso
Hermitage, Pennsylvania

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