Navigating a New Toy

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It was 2 AM, and I was starving! "About another 45 minutes," I told myself. "Just 45 minutes."

And then I thought…I can eat an egg! When you have diabetes, it’s good to know what foods you can eat when you’re hungry and don’t want your blood glucose to travel too far. I could have had some cheese, or a handful of nuts, or even a carton of very-low-carb (4 grams per Kroger-brand container) yogurt. It comes in handy when your blood glucose is high and you’re trying to get it to come down.

In this case, however, I wasn’t high: I was in the process of calibrating my new continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and my friend Roger, who has been wearing the same brand for several months, had told me it calibrated best when your glucose was steady.

Yep. Got me a new CGM. After having a DexCom for two years, I’m a newbie Freestyle Navigator user. It’s a bit overwhelming at the moment.

The day had not started off well. I was running late for my appointment with the trainer in Indianapolis. I hadn’t eaten and I was hungry. I needed to go to the bank. I needed to drop something off at another place. I needed to put insulin in my pump.

I grabbed a nosh at a fast-food place and made the drop-off. I forgot to fill up my pump and blew off the bank.

Arriving at Indiana University Medical Center with about five minutes to spare, I opted for valet parking rather than driving around the parking garage looking for a space while the minutes ticked off.

“Oops! You need money for valet parking,” I thought to myself, forgetting that I would have needed money for the garage, too.

At last, however, I could concentrate on the high point of my day: Learning to use my new “toy.”

There wasn’t a thing wrong with my DexCom, but friends who had been in a Navigator study were raving about it, and I got a good deal on one through my pump company, so I decided to make the switch.

As I said earlier, it’s a bit overwhelming at the moment. The DexCom is pretty straightforward. Bells and whistles are few and far between.

The Navigator, on the other hand, has screens and menus and customizable settings and comes with warnings from the trainer along the lines of “If you do this or don’t do that, you will kill the sensor and have to pull it.” I sure do wish I could remember what those are: At about $60 per sensor, I’d prefer that it just wait and die a natural death.

Luckily, I have a 50-pound manual to look things up in. And Karen’s phone number and e-mail address.

Don’t let me scare you away: I’m not the most technical person in the world (my brothers took all of those genes) and I’m in mentalpause, so I have a double whammy going against me. I also realize that I’m at the beginning of my learning curve. Heck, it used to take me half an hour to change my insulin pump infusion set. Or to put my contact lenses in. I mastered those long ago and know I’ll be a pro with the Navigator soon. It’s just that I have a tendency to want to run before I’ve mastered crawling.

Using the different functions will also help drill them into my memory. After this evening’s dinner, for example, I’ll know how to mute the “high” alarm in my sleep. (At least you can mute the “high” alarm. Yesterday, I wished I could mute the “low” alarm.)

The bottom line is…I like it! I like it! It has information available immediately, whereas I used to have to download the DexCom to my computer before I could get some of that information. I am, however, anxiously waiting for the Navigator software to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Something about the FDA not approving the software until after the hardware has been approved.

Oh, well, I’ll get the software sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.

It also keeps my pump from dropping through the hole in the pocket of a favorite, well-worn nightshirt. (My grandchildren seem to have a safety-pin fetish and, no, I don’t want to try and dig up a needle and thread!) I keep my pump and my CGM in my nightshirt pocket, and the Navigator is large enough to cover the hole. With the nonslip “skin” added, it makes a nice plug. With my pump on the side of the pocket that is still intact, I’m good to go without shedding medical equipment all over the place.

It would be nice if the price would come down and insurance was more willing to cover them so everybody who wanted one could have a CGM. The driver Eric mentioned in his blog entry last week (“Hypoglycemia’s Dangerous Enough”) could well be walking around unharmed today if he’d had a CGM nagging him that his blood glucose was low. Annoying “high” alarms could entice you to keep your glucose in range more often—in fact, that’s one reason I set my “high” limit where I did, but “stuff” (or, in my case, pasta) happens.

Speaking of money (which I was doing in the last paragraph), there was an ATM in the med center’s lobby, so I was able to retrieve my car from the valet.

As for being low on insulin, that was a bit more problematic. I had enough to run my basals, but not enough to bolus for food (which I even had money to buy!) until after I got home.

Hungry again.

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