Continuous Glucose Monitor

In 2010 following the events of the previous year, I was given the use of a continuous glucose monitor. This device consists of a transmitter that adheres to the abdomen or back of the arm and takes a reading from a small sensor inserted 5mm into the skin. This sends a signal to a receiver / monitor which displays your blood glucose readings at the touch of a button and can be carried in your pocket or bag, it works twenty four hours a day and has the ability to predict a fall or rise in your blood glucose levels by sounding an alarm. It also records your history by graph to see your control in detail.

imageTHIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT! Other CGM’s are available.

I know this sounds incredible and it is, however there are some pitfalls. Firstly, because it takes a reading from the interstitial fluid and not the capillary blood, the reading will be approximately ten minutes behind your actual level, so if your blood glucose is rising or falling rapidly then a test from the finger will show different to the reading on the monitor. (You get used to it) Secondly, the monitor has to be calibrated five times per sensor by carrying out a finger prick BG test and as the sensor only lasts five days, you have to test on average at least once per day. The original machine I was given used replaceable batteries which frequently needed replacing. I now have an updated version which is rechargeable like a phone and has a working life of two years, when the device has to be replaced. The transmitter has a single use battery with a life of twelve months, when the whole transmitter has to be replaced.

Now, I am fortunate in having this equipment funded by the primary care trust, because of my previous history and near death experience. Others however would not all be entitled to such funding which gives us the biggest pitfall of all. The cost!! In my opinion the price of the transmitter and receiver is expensive, but the cost of the sensors are outrageous! with a price tag of somewhere between £40 and £60 each. When using six sensors per month, it is a cost I consider unaffordable for the average diabetic.

Disregarding the cost for a moment, I would like to make clear in no uncertain terms that this device, has not only changed my life and the control of my diabetes, it has also saved my life on more than one occasion!

As this charity was created with the use of an analogy I would like to use another to sum up the continuous glucose monitor.

When I noticed a fault with the original CGM (battery usage) I was offered an updated version and asked to return the old unit and any unopened boxes of sensors. Before I did this I asked Chris, fellow T1 diabetic and good friend, who developed diabetes in 2001 and has devoted a lot of his time putting together and helping to maintain this website if he would like to try out the CGM. He jumped at the chance, so I supplied him with the device and a few sensors from an opened box. He came back to me with this. ” Controlling diabetes without a CGM is like being given a car to drive when you have never driven before and told to drive at a constant 30mph without a speedometer”

Both Chris and I feel that…


Keith.                         P.S. Let us know your feelings!

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