Finding Clarity in our New Normal

Short Description
Emily blogs about how using Dexcom Clarity has impacted her diabetes care routine!
Contributor
Emily Swanson, Carthage College '22
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Emily's headshot

In this new era of moving away from in-person medicine and transitioning to telehealth, when it comes to having diabetes and obtaining vital care, you may need some clarity on your options (pun intended).

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) have been a revolutionary advancement in diabetes health management in recent years and have quickly been adapted into the lives of diabetics everywhere. This technology is ever-growing and expanding to meet the needs of its users. A lot of CGM’s offer continuous data. Personally, I have been a Dexcom user since I was a sophomore in high school. It’s been five years and I still find myself learning about new functionality/tools from a CGM that I have been using for years. Recently, I (virtually) chatted with Dexcom’s Cher Pastore to get more information on an aspect of their CGM that is extremely beneficial for its users, Dexcom Clairity.

 

Components

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"For those unfamiliar, Clarity is the Dexcom software that tracks trends logged by the CGM."

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The data is then stored in one convenient app that shows trends over the preceding 90 days. The app detects patterns in blood glucose levels – while also being able to send weekly notifications for a summary of how one’s levels trended over the past week. Recently, I walked into my endocrinologist’s office and the receptionist asked me, “Do you have Dexcom Clarity?” I scoured my phone for a little green app that I mindlessly downloaded after first starting on Dexcom. I will admit that I was not sure what I was doing, or how it would provide any pertinent information to my endocrinologist. However, after learning about its functionality, I was amazed by how easy it was to share my CGM data and communicate with my physician! I told Cher about this encounter at my physician’s office and she was very understanding about my confusion. She explained to me that, “It is definitely more user-friendly now to you, the person with diabetes, as opposed to the endocrinologist. I would say, historically, maybe it started for the endo[crinologist].”

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"When I started on a CGM, I remember being happy that I could ditch my physical log book."

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When I started on a CGM, I remember being happy that I could ditch my physical log book. What I didn’t realize was that it is important to physically see these trends, especially when college students like myself have to be more independent with our diabetes care. To that end, one of my favorite functions of Dexcom Clarity is its easy-to-see patterns that I hadn’t previously noticed on a daily basis. I discovered that my blood sugar tends to run a bit high around 4:00 AM, and Dexcom Clarity tells me the timeframe in which I’ve been averaging high. It gives me the insight to make well-informed adjustments to my insulin regimen while also empowering me to have more confidence when speaking to my endocrinologist about my care needs. Overall, it makes me feel in control of my diabetes and my life; I find this empowering when dealing with a chronic disease.

What I find most fascinating about Clarity is that it is like an office visit in the palm of my hand. For past visits, I remember downloading my pump and CGM data at my endocrinologist’s office and leaving with a heavy set of papers. Now, this pertinent information for my diabetes support team can be easily shared with a touch-free, simple code. In a few clicks, up to eight different reports can be generated – displaying an abundance of information. When discussing which reports are most beneficial for college students, Cher stated that she suggests looking at overviews, trends, and dailies. These reports, along with the comparison report, may be especially useful to college students when speaking to an endocrinologist.

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"When I receive notifications about Clarity – or check to see how I’m doing – I feel like I can make mindful decisions about my diabetes care."

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When talking with Cher, I thought it was beneficial to have the reports and their uses explained to me. We spoke at length about how goals can be tailored to each individual’s needs. For the longest time, I considered my A1C to be the end-all, be-all of diabetes management. Hearing about new technologies and methods of tracking blood sugar control from Cher really did challenge my initial perspective. Ever since our conversation, when I receive notifications about Clarity – or check to see how I’m doing – I feel like I can make mindful decisions about my diabetes care. I feel as though it also opened a new route of communication with my care provider. When I think about my endocrinologist, I think of them as the person I see every 3-6 months. With Clarity, I have the ability to send my numbers to my endocrinologist so that I always have the help I need on a daily basis, not just every three months.
 

Every week I get a notification on my phone that tells me my average time in range. To me that is so much more informative than the anxiety that accompanies going in for my A1c every three months. With more frequent data at my fingertips, it gives me the ability to have tighter control. I can see the data, my time in range, and make adjustments much more frequently. I don’t have to sit in my physician’s office and cross my fingers hoping my average glucose over three months is “normal”. The reality is now that I have access to my time in range, my feelings about A1c have radically shifted. While it is a valuable tool, it disregards extreme highs and lows; it is purely an average. Someone could have a “good” A1c and be running extremely high but with frequent lows that average out to a “ideal” A1c - even though we know that isn’t the case. What I love about this new technology is that it is revolutionizing how we view blood glucose control and the measure we use to define it.

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" I believe that Dexcom Clarity helps put true understanding and power into the hands of the patient."

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There are so many new frontiers in technology, especially now that telehealth is becoming a normal part of life. I believe that Dexcom Clarity helps put true understanding and power into the hands of the patient. It allows patients to independently and confidently express their needs to their physicians. Clarity helps make a seamless transition into the new frontier of telehealth. This system offers an easy way to send blood sugar levels to your physician without an in-office visit, while also requiring the same amount of collaboration between the patient and physician. Overall, this makes the care for the person living with diabetes more effective – while also helping reach the goal of increasing quality of life.

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emily headshot
Description

Emily Swanson is a junior at Carthage College, majoring in nursing. She is the founder and president of the College Diabetes Network Chapter at Carthage College. Outside of CDN activities, she is a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi Omega, and spends her summers volunteering with local diabetes camps. You can find her on Instagram @emilyaswanson.