In case you missed it, Ben has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was 11 years old. Initially, he feared it would prevent him from one of his true passions – competing in longboard surfing competitions… but luckily it didn’t! He also balances his love of surfing with studying at university. Ben has previously used Dexcom G5 Mobile Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) to keep track of his glucose levels, but here we speak to Ben about his Dexcom G6 CGM experience!
Keep reading to hear more from Ben.
Q. How does Dexcom CGM help you maintain a balance between studying and surfing?
So the Dexcom G6 system has been a really, really big help with regards to finding a good balance between my surfing and university studies. I find during these less ‘active’ times, it’s great to be able to see the way my sugars are trending – so using the Dexcom trend arrow on the mobile app^ has been fantastic. And it’s led me to be able to recognise when I am trending upwards, allowing me to also increase my insulin in response to that.
Being able to see what my blood sugars are doing before I go in the water has been the other big thing for me. If I’m trending a little bit lower, I’ll know to eat some food before I go in the water, so I don’t have a hypo when I am surfing. And on the other side of that, making sure my glucose level isn’t too high when I’m going into the water, because I don’t want that either. And so overall it’s been really good to manage my glucose levels in both those situations.
Q. How does Dexcom G6 assist you day-to-day and whilst studying?
With regards to my day-to-day life and coupling that with the study that I do, Dexcom G6 has been extremely helpful as I’ve been able to identify my glucose trends and see what’s going on with my levels throughout the day. For instance when I’m studying lots, I know that I’ll probably need to bolus a little bit more for lunch and dinner – just from what I’ve seen through the data the Dexcom G6 has given me. And on the other side of that, when I am more active, I find that I may need to drop my insulin requirements. What has been really helpful from the feedback from Dexcom G6 is that I’ve actually created two different profile settings for my t:slim X2 insulin pump. I’ve got my daily setting and my active setting. With my active setting, I have lowered the basal insulin quite a lot just to make sure I don’t hypo overnight. And generally during the day I don’t need as much insulin when I’ve been surfing a whole lot. The opposite goes for the daily setting, when I’m studying a lot, for me basal insulin needs to be higher to make sure my levels don’t trend upwards. That feedback has been really good to sort of tailor my insulin pump settings to suit my needs.
Q: Which Dexcom G6 features best help you compete? And how so?
There are a couple of features that I’ve been utilising a lot with my Dexcom G6, just to make sure that with my current surf training, and in the future when competing, that I won’t need to be worrying as much about my diabetes.
The first is the Dexcom trends. The trend arrow has been really good with regards to my surfing as I can see how I’m trending before and after I’m in the water. But it has also helped me to learn a lot about myself and how I respond to different things whether that’s different foods or different sources of exercise – from the training I do when I’m surfing or resistance training for example – my levels will differ. My glucose levels tend to trend lower when I’m doing more aerobic sort of exercises whereas I might actually get a bit of a spike if it’s heavy resistance training. With all of that, it’s been really good to review my pump settings. It just means I don’t need to worry as much about my diabetes when I am surfing. I think I know it’s been a big thing for me in the past to go in the water and wonder if I am going to hypo, or what my levels are, which way I’m trending – so the Dexcom trend information has just been absolutely fantastic for me!
Along with the trend arrow, Dexcom G6 has some alarms that are set in, and these have been really helpful to me too. Whether I’m surfing or studying, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m having a hypo. So Dexcom G6 has been really good because I’ve been able to feel a bit of a buzz or maybe a noise in my pocket, to let me know that my levels are going lower and I can fix that up with some jellybeans or whatever I’m snacking on at that time. So it’s just another factor that prevents my diabetes from negatively impacting the other things I’m doing, as the alarms have allowed me to focus on the thing at hand.
Transitioning from Dexcom G5 Mobile to Dexcom G6 was very seamless and easy – and I’ve had no issue with accuracy – it’s extremely helpful in that way. On top of that, I hadn’t used the mobile app before going onto the Dexcom G6 system and using that for the first time was extremely easy. It’s literally just entering in a serial number from the transmitter and you’ve got it all there. Also, the fact that there are no fingerpricks* or calibrations needed for it to start the sensor, is so easy.
The last thing for me is the application of the sensor. I’ve found that to be extremely good with Dexcom G6. The hand-held applicator is very, very easy, and it makes sure the adhesive is nice and smooth. And that’s really important for me as a surfer because if there’s any little parts that aren’t stuck on when I go surfing; salt water or sand can get underneath the adhesive, so the applicator has been great!
Q: Why did you choose Dexcom CGM?
My decision to choose Dexcom CGM came down to two really important factors to me. First one, I’m a surfer and I’m in the water a whole lot and the Dexcom products are water-resistant†. Having the sensor and transmitter being water-resistant means being able to surf and come in and out of the water when I need – so it’s extremely easy. The other thing I noticed was that the Dexcom transmitter was nice and slim – this is important to me to make sure it wouldn’t catch on anything, and to ensure it fits under the wetsuit really well.
Q: How would you sum up Dexcom G6 in 10 words or less?
Precision over glucose levels, hassle free, and providing freedom.
Q: Lastly, what general advice would you give to others living with type 1 diabetes?
My advice would be to try and use your diabetes as a bit of a trigger to take a good interest in your health. I found it quite interesting myself, seeing how my glucose levels respond to different things – how things like insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance and different forms of exercise make my glucose levels fluctuate. Being able to take an interest in that has been a big thing for me because it turns diabetes from something that might be considered a bit of a burden, into something that is pretty interesting to me and something that I work towards improving.
On top of that, make sure you don’t look at diabetes like a limiting factor. And that you are going after the things you want to go after and achieve the things you want to achieve. Whether that’s travelling or sporting pursuits or even trying to get into a specific profession – you need to make sure your diabetes is well controlled, so it comes along for the ride but certainly doesn’t dictate what you do and how you do it. Especially with tools like Dexcom G6 CGM which allow me to keep a tight control over my glucose levels by giving me glucose trend information.
Lastly, there will always be people to help you manage your diabetes so make sure that you make your own goals your priority, and don’t let diabetes limit you from anything you want to do!
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*To view a list of compatible smart devices, visit dexcom.com/en-AU/compatibility
Always read the label and use only as directed. Read the warnings available on amsldiabetes.com.au/resources before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see which product is right for you.
“The Dexcom trend information has been really good with regards to my surfing as I can see how I’m trending before and after I’m in the water. But it’s also helped me to learn a lot about my self and how I respond to different things whether that’s different foods or different source of exercise…”
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