Conversing with Dex

Like a crazy person, I find myself referring to and speaking to Dex like he’s a real person:


Me: “What do you want? I just had a juice box 20 minutes ago.  You can’t possibly think I need another…”

Dex: “LOW: Below 60” arrow pointing due south

Me: “Fine.  If you insist.  But I am really getting sick of all this apple juice!” Drink juice box.

20 minutes later.


Me: “SERIOUSLY?   What’s your problem? I can’t just drink juice boxes all the time –  I have other things to do you know.”

M: “Umm…Are you talking to your Dexcom receiver?

Me: Realize that I am, in fact, talking to an inanimate object. “Well, he started it!  This makes me look a little crazy, doesn’t it?” Drink juice box.

I enter the living room with a spoon and a quart of black raspberry chocolate ice cream.

M: “Hey! Don’t eat that!”

Me: “But Dex said I could.”

M: “I didn’t hear him say that.”

Me: “Well, he’s on vibrate.”

Me: “ZZZzzzzzz….”


Me: “ZZZZZzzzzzzz…”


Me: “Shut up and let me sleep already! I hate you!”

Dex: “BEEEE-I’ll-shut-up-after-you-pay-attention-to-me-EEEEPPP!!”

M: “Wake up!  You’re low! And stop the beeping!”

Me: “Fine” Groggily push Dex’s buttons and bolus a quick correction. “Are you happy now?  Let me sleep already.”

Dex: “…”

The End


Dex Math

I love Dex.  He has become a security blanket that will need to be pried from my cold, dead fingers in 40 years or so when I kick the bucket.  If I walk to the bathroom and forget the receiver at the couch, I feel momentarily lost until a number takes the place of the out-of-range symbol in the upper right corner.  I mindlessly scroll through the trend graphs and pat myself on the back for a job well done or, maybe more commonly, quietly contemplate the presence of a tsunami on the screen.  There are times when Dex keeps me up all night with his constant wailing at me, insisting that I drink a juice box or bolus a unit or two of insulin, making me want to throw him at the wall.

Out with the Old...

Regardless of any momentary emotions I feel for Dex, I am constantly amazed at how far technology has come in the last 20 years of my D-life.  My first glucometer was the size of an old-school game boy, required me to squeeze out every last drop of blood in my little fingers, and, after counting down for 60 seconds, would show an error for having been bumped ever so slightly.  Now, while I do still check my blood sugar with a glucometer multiple times a day, I rely more and more on my handy-dandy CGM to track my BG constantly. with the New.

The Dexcom is a platinum electrode sensor that measures the level of glucose in the interstitial fluids and transmits the raw data to the receiver.  The receiver is then calibrated with blood glucose values obtained on an old-fashioned glucose meter (well, not as old as the one pictured…).  And, for me, this process often results in some very useful data.

I am no expert, but I imagine that this translation is a simple stoichiometry-type calculation, basically just translating the values using a simple conversion factor. (Is my math nerd showing?)  But sometimes I wonder… On what planet does a simple conversion take the 94 mg/dL and 96 mg/dL values, that I entered during my calibration this morning, and conclude that my blood sugar must be 90 mg/dL?!  Dex is doing some pretty creative math here…

I love technology, but I certainly don’t always understand it.

My New Normal

Back when my A1c was in the double digits, I didn’t really know what high felt like.  Since my BGs averaged in the 200s, those numbers felt normal and anything beginning with a 1 or below felt low(ish).  I could still, for the most part, distinguish between a real low and one of these lower-than-normal lows, but I never felt high.  And since, for me, high was never as debilitating as low, I wasn’t too worried.  Of the following list of high symptoms, the few that I may have been feeling, I could write off for various other reasons.  For instance:

  • Frequency in urinationI wasn’t going any more often than I normally go
  • Thirstisn’t it good to stay hydrated?
  • Dry mouthtoo many salty snacks
  • Urination at nightbut if it’s normal…?
  • Drowsiness or fatigueall teenagers are tired, right?
  • Loss of weightI wasn’t losing weight (but for all the snacks, I certainly wasn’t gaining any).
  • Increase in appetitegrowth spurts
  • Slow healing of woundswhat wounds?
  • Blurriness in visionneed new glasses
  • Dry and itchy skingenetics and dry air

And since lows were so infrequent, every single low felt like the end of the world with all of the tell-tale symptoms rearing their ugly heads.  I would sweat and shake and stumble through every word until I ate my way back to feeling normal.

More recently, with a BG average closer to 120, my world has turned upside down.  I start to feel high when the Dex graph creeps above 150 for more than 5 minutes, during which time I chug gallons and gallons of water to no avail and want nothing more than to stay glued to the couch with a cookie.

While feeling my highs is probably a turn for the better, I now have trouble noticing lows.  I spend around 50% of the day between 70 and 90 and dip down to 50 at least once a day.  But now I don’t feel low until that number is well below 40.  I still have the occasional low at 65 but usually the symptoms don’t show up before Dex has alerted me to the problem, I’ve corrected with a juice box, and my number is on the raise again.  So, sometimes I’d rather just turn my basal way down and try to wait it out.

But am I making low my new normal?  Have I ventured too far to the other side?  What good are symptoms if I can’t feel them anymore?