CGM Data: Around the World and Back Again – to my Pebble Watch

After attending the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit last November and being inspired by the Nightscout crew (and pretty much everyone else there as well!), I finally decided to take the time to set up a Nightscout website. I’ve had it up and running since Dec 2014. Being an adult with Type 1, I monitor my own blood glucose levels. I don’t have anyone that would be interested in following my data on a daily (much less hourly) basis, so I wasn’t sure if the functionality of Nightscout would be worth it for me. After 8 months, I can say with certainty that it has been…and then some!!!

I don’t actually use my NightPebbleWatchscout website or phone app very much but I LOVE wearing my real-time data on my Pebble watch. I’m probably 1000 times more likely to glance at my watch to check on my blood sugar than I am to dig in my purse (through all the snacks and toddler/kid gear) and haul out my Dex receiver or my phone. The setup to get my data to my watch was somewhat complicated but with the addition of the Dexcom G4 receiver in May, my data is almost 100% constant without much involvement from me other than occasionally restarting a few apps on my iPhone.

Last week, however, it suddenly quit working and I got emails written in what may as well have been a foreign language, saying things like “your Heroku app on free dynos needs to recharge.” I’m pretty techno-savvy and am generally an early adopter of new technology but I’m not a programmer and certainly don’t fully understand all of the ins and outs for each step I followed in the pipeline to ultimately setup Nightscout. Going back through them to figure out which accounts I used in my setup needed changes and what else it might affect wasn’t quite like starting at the beginning for me…but it was close.

There are so many different ways to setup Nightscout, including what hardware you’re using, what service providers you chose, what account parameters you chose with some of those service providers, etc., that it’s not an easy task for me to filter through the Nightscout setup guides and Facebook group looking for clues related to updating each piece of the specific pipeline that I selected to use. So, after I finished getting my data stream to my Pebble working again (took me about 3 hours), I decided to make a little diagram to help me understand how all the pieces I’m using fit together. Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure I have my pipeline figured out correctly but wouldn’t bet my house on it : )


My hope is that next time I need to make a change, I’ll be able to get it corrected more quickly…and with a little less terror! My current pipeline configuration prior to last week was free and now, with the required changes, looks like it will cost me $14/month, but it works for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

MeandKidsI can no longer imagine not having my data on my Pebble. I feel so much safer. EVERY time I’m with my kids at the park, or the market, or driving in the car, and I glance at my Pebble, I’m thankful. Quite simply: I want to be the best mom I can be; I want to stick around to watch my kids grow up…and Nightscout helps me do that.

Big House : Small CGM Transmitter Range

So, we finally moved into our new house about a month ago. One of the strangest diabetes-related things I’ve had to get used to is the size and shape of my new house when it comes to my CGM signal. The Dexcom G4 is supposed to be in range as long as the receiver and transmitter are within 20 feet from each other. Our old house was kind of a 50s bungalow, where I could set my receiver in a central location and still have my signal picked up all over the house. Only our master bathroom stretched the range, so showering was the only time I had to remember to pick up my receiver and take it with me. Our new house is bigger and also more spread out. When we first moved in and I was unpacking, I missed hours of data at a time (and I missed a lot of lows and highs).

Caller-ID Big House:Small CGM Transmitter RangeI’ve really had to get adjusted to carrying my receiver with me from room to room in the house. It has turned into a bit of a ball-and-chain but my thinking is if I’m not going to have the receiver collecting a signal 99.9% of the time, then what’s the point of wearing this additional, ugly (yet not inexpensive!) hunk of plastic on my belly all the time, right? I’d love to take a vacation from my CGM occasionally but for me diabetes devices are like the original Caller ID box (remember those days?!) once you have it, you really can’t ever go back to being without it.  I hope to look back at my tummy devices and signal ranges one day just like I look back at the Caller ID box now and say “Wow, can you believe I used to use one of those things all the time? And I thought it was so high-tech!”

Just a Little Girl and her Mommy…and Mommy’s Diabetes Accessories

Ruby's-AccessoriesLittle girls do love their accessories and mine has an eagle eye for detail.  Here, my daughter Ruby has on her cool Reef flip-flops, a white snap bracelet with cherries, blue mirror shades, a pink and green striped raccoon tail, and a multicolored hair wrap with hot pink feathers on the end.

Needless to say, when I changed up my diabetes supply cases this weekend, she was quick to notice.  “Mommy I like your new gold case with the white case better than the old silver case with the green case.  And I like the pink case too.”  Hmmm, that’s a lot of cases. She’s grown up knowing it’s “Mommy’s diabetes stuff” but we haven’t ever talked about which case is for what.

New-Diabetes-CasesMy husband and I explained that the white case was a “skin” case for Mommy’s OmniPod, the gold case was Mommy’s diabetes kit and the pink case was for Mommy’s CGM, which stands for Continuous Glucose Monitor.  “Rubes, do you know what continuous means?”


“It means all the time and Glucose means sugar.  Do you know what monitor means?”


“Monitor means watcher.  So, the pink case is Mommy’s all the time sugar watcher.”

Ruby grinned and chimed in with “And your bracelet is your sleep watcher!”

Oh, yeah, that’s right…there’s also the Fitbit Flex I wear, which tracks activity and sleep. Little girls…they don’t miss an “accessory” beat!

I Ate an Entire Tube of Glucose Tabs During the Night: So Much for My SoloHealth Station Assessment

Wednesday night was date night for my husband and I, just a relaxing dinner for two.  We planned to make it an early night (since I had a cold) but didn’t want to get home before the kids were in bed (sorry sweeties…we love you but mommies and daddies sometimes need a little break).  So, we stopped at the drug store to pick up a couple of things, where we spotted the SoloHealth Station and, being in no rush to get home, decided to give it a whirl.

Love Tester MachineOk, I confess we were a bit like kids playing around with the old-school “love testers” at the fairgrounds.  “My turn, my turn! Yeah, take that test too! Giggle, giggle.”

Turns out my husband could stand to work on improving his sleep patterns, but me? I passed all the tests with flying colors, including BMI, Blood pressure, Sleep Assessment, and a Health Risk Screening.

SoloHealth Station

I’m not the most photogenic person. My husband is forever laughing and calling me out for “talking” during the picture.

However, last night I definitely wasn’t’ the shining example of health portrayed by my friend, the trusty SoloHealth Station. Last night I was low, low, low.  Don’t you wish there was an easy or obvious answer for every bout of irregular blood sugar readings?  I may feel guilty when I miscalculate my carb intake and end up high or low…but at least I know why!  I find it infinitely more frustrating to be left guessing…or to have irregular blood sugars for some other reason that I have no control over, like an illness.  While I do have a pretty wicked head cold right now, I’ve already had it for about 5 days and usually being sick raises my sugars instead of lowering them.  Last night my CGM woke me at least 4 or 5 times!  A couple of those times I was only a little low, so I just popped a single tab or two and fell back asleep (thinking the issue would be over).  Only to be woken again, and again, and again.  Finally I was woken in the 40s and upon dragging myself out of bed I realized that my menstrual flow had gone haywire in the night and was extremely heavy.  Huh? Now I’m sick, having hard-to-ditch low blood sugar in the middle of the night, and a heinous menstrual cycle?!  Is this the Universe’s cocked-up way of letting me know it’s Friday the 13th?  Not funny Universe…not funny.

Dexcom CGM low nightAs bad as it is, I’m thankful for my CGM and the peace of mind it provides in situations like this.  What could have happened if I didn’t have it?  After all, I was pretty zonked out on cold medicine.  This isn’t the first time since having my second child and going back on HRT 6 months ago that I’ve had a crazy girl cycle.  Guess it’s time to bite the bullet and go to see the Dr again just to be on the safe side and make sure I’m not missing anything (short of the Universe’s evil Friday the 13th plan, of course).  But, it’s also definitely one of those mornings where I wish I could just catch a break.  I wish I could just be an average Joe, someone who could actually use the SoloHealth Station (with it’s simple metrics and variables) to get a realistic snapshot of my health.  Sigh…