I became a mother when I was 32 years old, 14 years after my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. Until then, I had weathered my personal diabetes storm as best I could: sometimes with ease, oftentimes with difficulties. But by the time I decided to embark on the journey of motherhood, I had a good grasp of how to best live with diabetes.
In my mid-20s, I acquired an insulin pump to accommodate my lifestyle, and I mastered that pretty quickly. During my pregnancy, it was an ideal way to manage my blood sugar, and the changing insulin needs my body required. After delivery, I found it comforting as well, allowing me to dial back on my insulin needs.
I soon learned as my son grew and needed my attention, my diabetes did as well. I was managing two unpredictable forces in my life. And it brought me the question, what came first? My son? Or diabetes?
As a mother, I was responsible for a small, helpless baby who needed everything. Diaper changes, feedings, clean clothes. And then my diabetes: blood sugar checks, pump changes, endocrinologist appointments. I did, somehow, manage for a few years, although the blood sugar management I had accomplished was slowly becoming less of a priority for me.
Then I began to experience hypoglycemia unawareness.
At the time, my husband was occasionally traveling for work, leaving us alone for a few weeks at a time. Our family had recently moved, and we didn’t know our neighbors well, so I was uncomfortable asking for any kind of help, especially of the diabetes kind.
And one day, I was out with my son, two years old at the time, and I experienced a blood sugar so low that I lost consciousness. I only remember waking up with emergency responders hovering over me, a glucagon drip in my arm, and my son sitting in his stroller, happily playing with a toy.
I was scared. Scared that one day I might be in a similar situation but at home, alone, with a baby who could barely communicate.
Immediately, I reached out to my endocrinologist, who recommended a continuous glucose monitor. I agreed, not completely understanding what a CGM did, but convinced that it would improve my quality of my life as a mother.
A few weeks later, I trialed my first CGM, a Dexcom SEVEN PLUS. With my endocrinologist, we determined a range of blood glucose that we both felt comfortable with, and she sent me home. I recall going about my usual activities and hearing a buzz, then a beep. My husband, who was home, immediately asked for a lesson in the buzzing and beeping, and when I explained, he was hooked. “We are getting this, no matter what it costs,” he said to me.
And so, another chapter of my life with diabetes began. That of CGM-use. It’s been ten years since I first wore the SEVEN PLUS and have moved onto the G4, the G5, and now the G6. I am forever grateful to those buzzes and beeps, alerting me to where my blood sugar is, and where it’s going, and how fast.
Recently, I began tracking my time in range – the amount of time my blood sugar is between a range I have set with my endocrinologist, and thanks to my CGM, I can see how often I hit my target goals. I have learned that the more I reach my designated time in range, the better I feel, the better my diabetes outcomes and the more time I can focus on things that are important to me.
Having a tool like this has allowed me to fully embrace motherhood. Because I know what’s happening diabetes-wise, I am able to immerse myself into whatever activity my son is involved with. Whether we are at a sporting event or a Boy Scout activity, I can glance down and see if I’m within the range my healthcare team and I have agreed upon. And without much fanfare, I can adjust my insulin or activity needs to accommodate diabetes.
Life with a CGM is second nature in my home. My husband and son both are attuned to it and can identify the beeps. My son, now a teenager, has grown up understanding how important it is for me, for our home life, to live between the lines of my CGM. Or, at the very least, to live as closely as we can between those lines.
Dexcom is a 2020 National Strategic Partner of DiabetesSisters. DiabetesSisters shares information they provide that is useful to our community; however, the relationship does not influence the decisions or opinions of DiabetesSisters, its governing board or staff. Anna’s story is her own and not influenced by this relationship.