One Handed Independence

My CGM has changed real estate. While it says it is only approved for use on your abdomen, I know that people have had success wearing it other places, such as their arm. This cold weather has left my skin rather dry and sensitive to the tape. For this reason, I decided to switch things up and move the sensor to my arm, giving my stomach a slight break. This is a move that I have done once before, with assistance. Inserting the sensor isn’t exactly difficult, but it does have multiple steps. Push down on the plunger like piece then pull back up removing the needle. Hold down the two side pieces while you pull off the top plunger piece and snap the sensor into the plastic piece. Then I always cover it with another piece of tape, fitting the hole around the sensor. Not necessarily difficult, but also a process that typically requires two hands. When inserting the sensor on your arm, you can obviously only then use one hand, making this feat much more challenging.

This time though, I didn’t want to ask for help. I was going to do it one handed. And I did. And it was hard. At one point, I had the needle pushed into my arm, but I couldn’t get the piece to pull back up. The apparatus was just hanging from my arm, held on by the tape as I stood there taking deep breaths, silently coaching myself through the task. Then the piece wasn’t disconnecting, I tried jiggling it with one hand, trying to get it to cooperate. And the tape, yea it’s hard with one handed and limited vision to line up a piece of tape so that the hole fits exactly over the sensor while still lying flat everywhere else.

So why didn’t I ask for help? Well because I know this is something I need to be able to do on my own. I started a new job this week (which is partially why it has taken so long to post this week). In a few months I hope to move to the city where I am working. While I’ve always lived with someone else, whether it was my family or roommates, I’m now looking at places by myself. The thought is half terrifying and half exciting. But living alone means that there won’t be someone there to help me insert the sensor in my arm. Or to keep an eye on me when I’m feeling low. Or grab me orange juice when I need it. I am independent when it comes to my diabetes; I know I can take care of myself. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have these moments where I catastrophize a situation. What if I drop so low that I pass out, no one will even know. How long before someone realizes or finds me?  Granted in 13 years of living with diabetes, I’ve never passed out, but I can’t help my mind from jumping to the worst case scenarios. But I’m not one to let the “what ifs” (especially the irrational ones) or my diabetes hold me back. 

For some, independence is being able to support yourself financially or living on your own. For others, independence means being able to jab a sensor in your arm with one hand. 

Sensor through the sweater

7 thoughts on “One Handed Independence

  1. 🙂 Good job! I just started using a Dexcom and I'm only on my second sensor but I have it in my arm right now too. I had to have hubby help, but I'll probably get to the point of doing it on my own eventually I guess. Congrats on the new job! I'm excited for you too that you are looking to get your own place! Sounds like 2014 is going to be a great year for you. Yay!!!


  2. I usually sit in a chair and twist my arm on the back of it so that some arm skin is “pinched up” on the back of the chair.. That tends to eliminate pain and decreases likelyhood of hitting a vessel (I have pretty skinny arms so this helps me a lot)… Also, I always place it so the little tabs that snap over the sensor are closer to the the armpit – that way when it's time to remove the big bulky sensor after the insertion gravity can do the work for me (I just lift my arm over my head and hold the twisty thing in place and the applicator just falls… wow, it's really hard to describe this in words without pictures 🙂


  3. Hi– With the tape, do you think it might help to try it in front of a mirror? Then you wouldn't have to bend your head around to make sure you're getting it in the right place.

    Regardless, congrats to you for being so brave. Good luck with the new job!


  4. That's really helpful advice, thank you! I didn't think about using a chair, but that's a great idea. And I totally got the visual, I have my tabs facing the other way so I'm definitely going to try that next time.


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