“What’s that bulge under your sweater on your arm?”
“My muscles? Thanks for noticing, I’ve been working out. Oh wait, you mean my sensor, don’t you?”
After 6ish months of wearing both my infusion set and my sensor on my stomach, I decided it was time to switch it up. I’ve been reading many blog posts and forums about fellow Dexcom users inserting their sensors on their arms with fabulous results. They said it had much more accurate readings, little pain or discomfort, and were overall quite pleased. I decided that I would give it a try.
As indicated in my last post, I already have some difficulty with the insertion of the sensor, even when it is on my stomach. Although in theory I like the idea of trying it on my arm, I wasn’t sure I was physically going to be able to insert it myself. Luckily, my mom was around and was more than willing to help.
I sat down in a chair, removed the tape from the inserter, and stuck it to the outside of my upper arm. My mom stood next to me. “Okay, just tell me what to do.” She had never watched me insert the sensor before and wasn’t quite sure how it worked. I explained the steps that she had to take; what she had to push down, then what to pull up, and then what to take off.
This was then followed by a moment of panic. Even though I’ve been dealing with all of this for 12 years, the first time doing something new always makes me super anxious, whether it’s a new product, new inserter, or new spot on my body. It was as if I was 12 years old again, getting my first shot.
“Wait wait wait! I’m not ready. I’m not sure this is a good idea. Don’t push it yet! Stop!”
My mom, unfazed by my sudden attack of nerves, replied in a calm voice, “Take a deep breath, I won’t do it until you’re ready and you say so.”
I listened and took a deep breath. Her fingers were on my arm, ready and waiting for me to give her permission to proceed.
“Okay, one second, I think I’m almost ready.”
I don’t know what kind of pain I was mentally preparing for, but suddenly my dad, sitting across the table, started laughing.
“You should see the faces you are making right now, where’s my camera?”
Thanks, real supportive, dad.
“Just do it, I’m ready.”
My mom pushed down and the needle went in. It hurt, but nothing unbearable or more than usual. Phew! I struggled to remove the rest of the inserter, a much more difficult task when you are trying to do it one handed. Then when I attempted to snap the transmitter in place, I accidentally pushed it down and to the side. Now that hurt! A small amount of blood began to pool under the tape. Great. With the sensor in, I just hoped that I hadn’t just accidentally bent it under my skin.
Thankfully everything is working fine. I know it may not seem like it, but this is actually a pretty big accomplishment for me. I get so used to doing the same thing over and over that it becomes familiar and comfortable and harder to try something new. And even though I know my mom will not always be conveniently around to help me out, I realized it’s okay to ask for help from time to time.
I’m not sure if this new placement is something I’m going to continue with in the future, but I definitely gave myself a pat on the back for trying something different. The sensor placement was slightly uncomfortable while sleeping and doing things like yoga, as it would get pushed into my arm, and it has gotten caught a few times while taking off clothing. On the other hand though, it is pretty accurate and comfortable (when nothing is pushing on it), it’s been nice to give my stomach a slight break, and it’s nice knowing that I have an alternative site when I do decide to use it.
I’m proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone. It’s something that I need to do more often in my life, not just with my diabetes. As it is said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”