Hands up if your CGM ever looks like this.
A 24-hour display that looks this extreme is pretty rare for me. But we all know that these things happen, sometimes without much of an explanation. There are so many factors, from meals and exercise to stress and the weather, that affect blood sugar that it’s impossible to account for them all. It’s easy to get frustrated and upset (especially when lack of sleep is involved)- and that’s okay. We live on the constant roller coaster that is diabetes, day in and day out, with no breaks. It’s only natural that sometimes we feel like screaming, crying, or throwing our meters out the window.
Yesterday seemed to be the perfect storm of events to create that lovely mountain range. I had inserted a new sensor that morning, and I’ve found that during the first 24-36 hours of a sensor session, it tends to get a little over-excited when my blood sugar rises or falls. (The most memorable and extreme incidence of this occurred a few months ago, when my receiver claimed I was 380 a half hour after eating a banana to treat a low. Like, no. Go get your head on straight, Dexcom.) Some of the lows and highs might have been a little exaggerated, but the trends were definitely correct.
When the two hour start-up period ended, and I could finally see my numbers being displayed, I noticed that my blood sugar seemed to be falling from a steep high. I thought this was odd- I had just changed my breakfast insulin-to-carb ratio to ensure that I got more insulin to prevent that high. Additionally, I delivered my insulin 20 minutes before I ate breakfast, to give the insulin time to kick in before I ate. This should have prevented that spike, but without the data from my CGM, I’ll never know exactly what happened.
I confirmed my falling blood sugar with my meter, which reported that I was 69. I ate a 10 carb snack, and began preparing my lunch. My CGM, however, showed the word “LOW” where a number should have been. PANIC TIME! The “LOW” indicated that my blood sugar was below 40. Even though I knew that was probably incorrect, I loaded up on more gingersnaps while cutting way back on my insulin for lunch. It’s hard to ignore the urgent beeps and vibrations when you’re 20 minutes away from driving to work. By the time I was ready to leave, my blood sugar was up to 126. Score!
My Saturday afternoon shift turned out to be pretty busy- the store was packed and I was feeling stressed, which was only compounded by my blood sugars. Try making change, or just trying to make the correct words come out of your mouth, when your blood sugar is 50! During my six hour shift, I corrected a “low”- my CGM lied to me and I was actually about 100- then corrected with insulin for the resulting high.
After I came home, I dealt with several more deceptive spikes and rises on my CGM receiver display, causing me to improperly treat my blood sugars, and just generally stress me out. I spent most of the night over 200, waking up every few hours and woke up feeling really sick- something I haven’t experienced since I started on my Dexcom in March. I was also feeling really discouraged: I had lost several hours of sleep, and was upset about the lack of control I’d had over my blood sugars the day before.
As cliche as it sounds, I knew that today was a new day: I could definitely smooth out those mountains from the day before, and make my 24 hour trend line look more like a straight line than an EKG. I headed back to work (where I tried to keep my blood sugars stable, but that didn’t happen. At least I tried!), kept my stress level down, and gave everyone the correct change.
We all know that living with diabetes can be immensely frustrating, upsetting, and scary sometimes. And life without diabetes is the same way. Everyone has days that just don’t go our way, but keeping things in perspective is important. One day doesn’t define your talent, your abilities, or your progress. For all the T1s reading this- you are some of the strongest people I know, and you all work so hard every day to simply live your lives. If you have a day like the one I just had, just remember that it will get better. The ride will stop (or at least slow down), and the mountain ranges on your CGM will flatten out.
Now I’m off to catch up on some sleep, where I hopefully won’t be interrupted by my CGM.