In the T1D universe, it’s common to throw around technology names. CGMs, PDMs, meters, pods, pumps and more are a part of our everyday language, and they are quite literally our lifelines.
To a non-T1D, these terms can be intimidating. What’s an Omnipod? Why do you still have to prick your finger if you wear a CGM? Do you still have to take shots? You see what I mean.
So, I am dedicating this post to breaking down my technology — step by step, device by device…for anyone interested, or anyone familiar with T1D and just curious about the technology I personally use. As I’ll note later, I love questions, and hope this post spurs more of them!
Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)
Let’s start with the newest technology to grace my skin…the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to see what my glucose levels are at all times. I use the Dexcom G5, and so far it’s worked out great. The CGM has a few different components to it, which I will gladly refer to the provided Dexcom graph:
A – this is a small sensor located just underneath my skin, which measures my glucose levels.
B – this is a transmitter, which basically connects the sensor information to a display device (C). I wear the sensor/transmitter either on my arm or tummy (see my main blog photo). I haven’t tried the leg yet.
C – The display device can either be the handy pager-looking machine or on an App on your smartphone. I personally only use the smartphone.
It works out perfectly for me because, let’s face it – it’s rare that my phone isn’t on me! My husband and my mom have access to my glucose information through the App (we’ll get into those sharing specifics at a later point, I have some tips) 😀
Blood Sugar Meter
A natural question after I explain the CGM — do you still have to prick your finger? Yes. It’s important to keep the CGM synced with what my actual blood glucose is, to make sure they line up. There’s nothing more accurate than a plain old blood sample still, and the machines have come a long way in functionality.
My meter doubles up as the device I use to control my Omnipod, which delivers my insulin.
The Omnipod is a wireless pump that delivers insulin continuously. I usually wear that little white pod on my lower back, arm or leg. If you touch or hug me and accidentally touch it, no worries. That happens all the time! I sleep on it, swim with it, exercise with it, etc., and change the Pod and refill it with insulin every 3 days. That black device (PDM, or Personal Diabetes Manager,) lets me control the insulin while doubling as my meter.
Here’s how it looks all together in the little pack I carry around. It houses an extra pod for emergencies, my PDM to check my blood sugar/manage the pod that’s on me, extra batteries for the PDM, insulin, and other little T1D knick knacks:
If this post doesn’t clarify and you’re still confused, I don’t blame you. Even when breaking the technology down, it can still be complicated! And in a way, I thank God it is. When I was first diagnosed at age 5, all we had was a huge meter to check my blood sugar and long needles to give me insulin. The technology has progressed amazingly, and it’s a blessing we as T1Ds have so many options when it comes to managing our health.
So the next time you see a little bump on my arm, know that it’s my pod or my CGM. Or when you see me pull out my meter before a meal, I’m checking my blood sugar. Just ask me about it!
I love when people want to learn instead of making assumptions or being afraid to ask. So, any more questions? Yes, sometimes I feel like a human pin cushion. Yes, sometimes I get embarrassed when I catch people staring at my pod or CGM (even if I shouldn’t). No, inserting the devices isn’t always painless. Yes, I’ve had lots of different machines throughout the years — but am so happy with what I have now.
The more people in the know about our journey, the better.
PS – stay tuned for future posts on technology of the past, as well as fashion paired with T1D technology.