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An Experiment in Empathy

When the new Dexcom G4 arrived earlier this week, I was excited on two counts:

First, we could pick up Luke’s blood sugar from his room (no more clunky white baby monitor to pick up alarms), from the parents’ seats at Aikido practice, and from other rooms at friends’ houses.

Second, I could try on the old Dex and see how it felt.

This seemed a little unseemly, taking D-mama empathy a bit far, but I wanted to know if Luke’s occasional complaints about the Dex hurting him were genuine or pre-schooler exaggeration, and I wanted to know what normal blood sugar looked like. When Luke was diagnosed, I left the hospital with the impression that normal blood sugar stayed strictly between 80-100 at all times. I’d learned since that there’s more variation, but I had no idea how much.

What I found was both a relief and slightly dismaying. A relief, because much of the day our blood sugars weren’t dramatically different (it was a good day – don’t get the wrong idea). A shared banana first thing in the morning spiked us both – but my pancreas kicked in to  level out blood sugar, while Luke’s synthetic insulin took a while longer to flatten out the rise. (The old Dex showing my blood sugar is on the left, and the new G4 showing Luke’s is on the right. Apparently I experienced the “dawn phenomenon” spike just before waking up – Luke’s still too young for that.)

There were moments when Luke’s blood sugar went higher or lower than I could follow – and what can you do but sigh and bolus or hand over the juice. What surprised me was how uncomfortably aware I still am, several days in, of the Dex wire under the back of my arm. It twinges when I roll over on it at night, and it’s faintly sore during the day. Maybe it’s a bad spot or I’m just not hardened yet to pokes and discomfort, but my heart sank when Luke complained this afternoon that the new Dex (which has a smaller wire) hurt his arm.

But the moment passed, and it keeps him safer at night and during the day, so we’ll stick with it. He needs something to tell stories about when he’s older – some equivalent of the old days of boiling glass syringes and sharpening needles on a whetstone. Maybe he’ll have a CGM by then that reads blood glucose via light through the skin, or maybe by then we’ll have something even closer to a cure.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Courtney #

    How interesting!!! Thanks for sharing that! My heart sank too when you realized it hurt or was uncomfortable for him and that it is the lesser of two evils. Z wears his CGM pretty much 24/7 and it has crossed my mind what a pain it must be for him. He is so brave with the insertion. Never cries, but you can tell he doesn’t like it. But it has caught so many lows and highs. I always enjoy your blog!

    November 18, 2012
  2. I did this recently too—for the same reason: thought it would be OK to play with the old equipment since the new one’s on the way. FWIW, it didn’t hurt me (but I did a tummy site). My son is still unwilling to try it. It *does* look super huge and intimidating.

    November 19, 2012
  3. Wow… How interesting! I never thought to do this with Elise’s old dex. Loved seeing the two graphs side by side

    November 19, 2012
  4. Kelly #

    I love that you did this and I bet Luke did too. Such a great experiment to kinda feel what it feels like for our little guys!

    November 19, 2012
  5. Day 3 – it’s a lot more comfortable now. I was hoping an adult PWD would tell me to stop whining!

    November 20, 2012
  6. Dawn #

    Thanks for sharing. I finally talked Emerson into a CGM and our G4 should be arriving any day. She is cool with the pod insertion but I have a feeling that she isn’t going to be happy with the Dex.

    November 27, 2012
  7. Our 4 yr old just for a g4 but we had the Medtronic cgm before. My son says dex doesn’t hurt (maybe 1out of 5 insertions he says ow) but he’s comparing it to a giant needle with a scary inserter and a much bigger wire in his old cgm. It is sad that our boys need so many pokes and prods, but I’m so greatfull for the information we get from this awesome technology and that they keep getting smaller and less painful even if they’re still not perfect! 😃

    June 27, 2013
    • I’ve heard Medtronic is painful. :S Glad the Dex seems less painful! It is awesome technology, no doubt! Hard to imagine life without it.

      June 27, 2013

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