Prickless.

No, this is not a story about removing the president of the United States from office.

Instead, this is about something I did recently.

I went a full day without doing any fingersticks. Twice.

I got the idea when a Dexcom sensor ended, and I still had about four days left in my trial of the Freestyle Libre (Disclosure: Abbott paid for the reader and two sensors. Opinions are my own).

At first, I wasn’t sure about only wearing a CGM that I didn’t have a lot of experience with. But during the trial, it had been pretty reliable. Then I thought, “the Libre doesn’t require fingersticks, even for calibration… what if someone didn’t want to do one?”. So I spent an entire day, a Sunday, not using my meter even once.

Then, once I got through a day using only the Libre, I knew I had to do the same thing with my Dexcom G5. The Dexcom only requires fingersticks for calibration, so in theory at least, after calibration, I could go quite a long time managing my diabetes with only the Dex. Dexcom’s turn came earlier this week.

I don’t know a single person using either of these systems who ever actually does this. I’m sure there are, but I haven’t seen anything about it anywhere. How was my experience?

In a word, I was terrified. When you rely on pricking your finger with a sharp (okay, blunt) object multiple times per day for years on end, drawing blood and using that blood to give you a handle on your diabetes, you get used to it enough to rely on it first. For me, my meter is my truth teller.

Occasionally, my CGM will give me a weird reading I just can’t believe. When it does, it’s important, even comforting, to know that I can grab my meter and trust what it tells me. But the thing is… more often than ever before, even in these moments, the meter and the CGM are very close.

I didn’t have any notable moments during the two days. No big highs, no major lows. I just lived my life, checking my BGs only via my CGM display. Managing insulin dosing and carb intake accordingly. Out of sheer instinct, I took out the meter a couple of times each day, nearly checked, but then put it back in the drawer with a laugh.

Since things worked so well over these two days, you may be wondering if I might want to ditch the meter entirely. The answer is No. As I said, when it comes to blood sugar, I’ve come to rely on my meter as the one bastion of truth above all others.

But… I could see backing off on glucose checks in my future. Maybe I won’t check seven to ten times each day. Maybe four or five, or even three or four might do the job. Maybe it’s time to think of my CGM as more than just an emergency alert system.

What this experience has done is give me the feeling that I can step back and reassess whether I need to give my continuous glucose monitor more of a place at my diabetes table. I would have never guessed that I might do that. I’ll still keep my meter handy. But going forward, I’ll be just as likely to rely on my CGM.

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Comments

  • Lucia Maya  On January 18, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    First, I have to tell you I read all your posts and really enjoy your blog – thank you!

    I am one of those who uses her meter mostly for calibration – other than the odd times when my Dexcom seems off, or when I’m pushing it past when I know it’s still accurate! I probably average 3 tests per day in the past year or so, since the G5 has been so reliably accurate. I dose off of it and trust it almost as much as my meter. This is largely because it is SO close to my meter, as you noticed.

    My fingers are happy, after 41 years of living with type 1, and about 30 of those with frequent BG testing… I’m old enough to have started out with using the test tube system and the changing colors to “guess” at what our BG was!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Rick Phillips  On January 18, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    I am afraid I need my routine prick to feel less like a,,, well prick

    Like

  • n1iwr  On March 5, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Hey Steve, I just read a couple of hr posts regarding cgm ‘s Dexcom & libre, before I commented. I was so interested in ur expateience I just wanted to keep reading!!

    I haven’t been dealing w D long enough to have had multiple daily fingersticks a part of my daily routine but I also have come to rely on my meter as the most reliable bg method available to me.

    It was interesting to see what u had to say regarding the libre. I’m on the fence. Again being a newbie I’m afraid is making changes against what I have come to rely on. In my diabetes sisters support group, libre gets a HUGE thumb up from the millennials & those of us pushy in the plus side of 40 tent to lie the alarms from either Dexcom or medtronics, pick ur poison as they say!!!

    Thanks fir taking the time to do a test run of libre & for jotting down ur thoughts!! I’m always interested in what ur thinking!!! HUGS!!!

    Like

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