That was the question I heard as I picked out a salad for lunch at a supermarket near work. I turned around and a man was pointing at my arm. I was very surprised by the question. I sometimes get asked “What is that thing on your arm?”, but my Dexcom sensor is almost never identified by strangers for what it actually is.
When I first brought up the idea of trying a continuous glucose monitor to my endo, she dismissed it right away saying it was too expensive. I thought it was an odd comment, seeing as it was my money, but whatever. A few months later I was given the opportunity to try a Dexcom and once I tried it, I was hooked. It showed me all the information that I was missing between finger stick tests. It picked up patterns that I could never have found just using my meter. It allowed me to lower my HbA1c, while REDUCING the number of episodes of hypoglycemia. And since I have been able to get great mileage out of each sensor (I have worn them a month on average), my out of pocket costs, while still significant, are greatly reduced.
When I went back to the endo, she was happy to see the data I brought into my appointments as it allowed us to work together to tweak some basal rates. But she also predicted that I wouldn’t wear it in the summer as it isn’t very aesthetically pleasing sitting there on the back of my arm. As it turns out, I don’t care at all how it looks. I’m more interested in having the right tools to help me manage my diabetes.
So back to the man in the grocery store. I answered that indeed it was a CGM. He told me his girlfriend has type 1 and she is currently using the Freestyle Libre so he was interested in the differences. I explained that having tried them both, I ultimately chose to continue with my Dexcom for it’s alert/alarm capabilities. Scanning your arm to know your glucose level and trend is a vast improvement on pricking your finger, but having the receiver alert you to rapidly moving or unsafe levels even before you might feel symptoms or think to scan is even better.
We only chatted for a few minutes but he was very thankful for the explanations and opinions I had given him. I told him that his girlfriend could be in touch with me through the local Parisian office of the French Diabetes Association (where I’m a member of the board) if she had any questions or if she just wanted to connect with someone else who lives with diabetes.
I walked away from that conversation very happy that it doesn’t bother my to wear my diabetes on my sleeve (or sleeveless arm, as the case may be). Not only does it provide invaluable information for managing my blood glucose levels, but it also improves the probability of meeting other people with diabetes (or their significant others) in the wild.