Using a CGM for My Type 2 Diabetes
Over the past few years, more and more people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have begun using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
There’s been tremendous progress in making CGM technology more accessible to people with T2D in recent years, but there are still too many people who would benefit from it who can’t get it. Diabetes advocates continue to push for lawmakers and healthcare professionals to make CGM technology available to anyone with any type of diabetes.
Here are the stories from three different people with T2D who are using a CGM to improve their blood sugars, their daily safety and their overall life as a person with diabetes.
Arne Ellersten, 87 years old
“I’ve had type 2 diabetes for about 30 years,” says Arne Ellersten. “My father had it. My uncle had it. My aunt had it.”
Ellersten has been using a Dexcom CGM for the past three years.
“I would recommend a CGM to anybody,” says Ellersten. “It doesn’t bother you. I wear it in my pool, in the shower. I really can’t complain about it.”
In fact, he’s most impressed by Dexcom’s customer service.
“To be honest with you, they are fantastic. They are the nicest people I’ve ever met, really unbelievable,” says Ellersten. “I had a sensor issue the other day, it wasn’t working right, and I called them up. They said they’d send me a new one right away. They’re so patient with me.”
Ellersten takes multiple daily injections of long-acting and rapid-acting insulin. Using a CGM has completely changed how he takes his insulin.
“I take my insulin according to my numbers thanks to the constant data on my CGM,” says Ellersten. “Before, I could check my blood sugar before taking my insulin but I didn’t know what direction I was headed in. It was like being in a dark alley.”
Ellersten has seen such an improvement in his A1c and blood sugars that his diabetes educator jokes that his numbers are better than her own.
“Between my CGM, my hearing aid and my pacemaker, I’m so loaded up with batteries that if I got hit by lightning, I’d light up like a Christmas tree!” jokes Ellersten.
My A1c is so good now, my diabetes educator jokes that it’s better than hers!”
Now with my hearing aid on me too, a pacemaker and now I’m wearing this too —I’m so loaded up with batteries, if a lightning bolt hit me, I’d light up like a Christmas tree.
“If there’s an improvement in diabetes management technology, you gotta take advantage of it,” says Ellersten. “The Dexcom is an improvement. I’m so grateful.”
Tom McConnell, 60 years old
“I’ve had type 2 diabetes for 21 years,” says Tom McConnell. “I’ve only used a Dexcom CGM for about four years.”
McConnell says he was very reluctant to start using it, for the same reason many are: he didn’t like the idea of having something stuck on him all the time.
“But now that it’s on me, I never notice it, and I use the information from it a lot,” he adds. “I did not realize just how often I would want to pick up the receiver and see what my number is at. Now I’m constantly aware of my number.”
McConnell says he most appreciates the way it lets you know if you’re rising or falling.
“I feel like I have so much more control over my blood sugars since I got it,” he adds. “I look at it every half hour, especially when I’m trying to decide whether to eat or what to eat. I know how much insulin to take based on all the information I get from this thing.”
For example, explains McConnell, his blood sugar was high the other night after dinner, before heading to bed. He could see it was only heading higher.
“So I took extra insulin to correct the high, and I woke up this morning at 97 mg/dL. Without it, I would’ve been high all night.”
Charles Costello, 50 years old
“I’ve lived with type 2 diabetes for 10 years, and using a Dexcom on and off for the last two years,” says Costello.
At first, Costello wasn’t committed to wearing it all the time. But after several severe low blood sugars—including a recent event that required a call to 911—Costello realized the amount of safety it provided him.
“I took my mealtime Novolog insulin and then I got distracted and didn’t eat right away,” explains Costello. “I dropped extremely low, down to 22 mg/dL. If I was wearing my CGM, that wouldn’t have happened. I would’ve gotten an alert at 80 mg/dL and remembered to eat.”
His current insulin regimen involves taking Tresiba twice a day. At every meal, he takes a set dose of Novolog, regardless of what he eats.
Costello also finds it helpful for knowing what to eat, or for looking back on how he reacted to a certain meal.
“If I’m below 80 mg/dL, I know I need some orange juice. If I’m over 200 mg/dL after eating, I know I shouldn’t have eaten as much or I had too many carbs.”
Having a set dosage for his meals means he can also experience lows after eating—if his dinner was lower in carbs.
For his wife, Costello says using a CGM has taken a lot of worry off her mind.
“My wife worries about me constantly because of those bad lows,” explains Costello. “Knowing that I have this to alert me when I go below 80 mg/dL really relieves the burden on her.”
“Wearing a CGM has been a great help to me,” says Costello. “I appreciate not having to stick my finger, and being able to see my blood sugar so easily at any time. It’s easy to put it on and it’s easy to change. It’s been a relief.”
Curious about using a CGM? Read more about CGMs and Type 2 diabetes.
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