Racing with diabetes presents many challenges but simply living on the road can be difficult as well. It is well documented that I had some severe low blood sugar while I was racing last year but to compound that I was also having low sugar while at rest. It was not uncommon for me to have sugars falling into the 50′s during travel or while sleeping. Having low blood sugar wastes adrenaline and leads to long term fatigue.
I started using a new tool called the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor this Spring.
Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor
I insert a small wire into the subcutaneous fat in my abdomen. The wire has a transmitter attached to it that sends data to a hand-held receiver. Every five minutes it sends my glucose level to the device and graphs it. Each dot on the picture above represents a glucose reading. The dotted lines going across the graph represent glucose levels of 180 and 60. If my blood sugar is not between those two data points my receiver will vibrate and beep. This is a very important feature for sleeping.
The device requires frequent calibrations from actual blood samples and displays information that it is about 10 minutes behind what my actual glucose is. This combined with its relatively large size (hopefully a watch will be developed soon) make it impractical for racing. However I may carry it on a triathlon race belt, in an ipod case, for 30k and 50k races.
Using the Dexcom device in conjunction with the Omnipod insulin pump means that I have two medical devices in my skin 24/7. My friends have joked that I am turning into a Cyborg. I embrace this, as I am grateful that the diabetes industry continues to innovate and make my life easier. In the picture below you will see the Omnipod on my chest and the Dexcom transmitter on my Oblique.
The display on the Omnipod “Personal Diabetes Manager” shows the many program options on the device. The PDM communicates wire-lessly to the pump on my chest.
Maintaining a relatively normal glucose level is critical to the longevity and consistency of my season. I look into every innovation that comes out in the diabetes world and decided that this combination was the best for me. I will use it to tackle every race that comes my way this year. I considered skipping longer races this season as well as the tour. But I know I can perform well in those formats. Living scared is no way to live. I am going after the 30k.