Think Outside the (Test Strip) Box: DexCom and Me

Thank you all kindly for your tips — and empathy — on my test strip woes. I learned something extremely useful (which may not be news to the savvy long-timers out there) that constitutes quite the paradigm shift for me: you can buy test strips for cheap(er) at places like Costco, eBay and supply websites like without a prescription! So you don’t have to rely on your insurance to cough up coverage for more of these essential supplies. Whew, what a relief. Where have I been?

In the meantime, I’m cutting the cord from dependence on mass quantities of these costly little strippies, because… DRUMROLL PLEASE……. I have been outfitted with a DexCom STS wireless continuous monitor!!! Did you catch that? Shall I repeat?! I am continuously, wirelessly monitoring my glucose levels as of Friday afternoon! I am the Bionic Woman. And loving it.

Dexcom_belly_1(Thus the kickoff of my new series here, “DexCom and Me” (technically a blog Category), following in the footsteps of Matt Vogel of Insulin Factor, who created the first-ever online DexCom user chronicles. But as of this weekend, it actually is DexCom and ME!!)

(*Pause for deep breath into paper bag…*)

And I just can’t stop lookin’ at it.

After seeing the unit live at the ADA Conf, I decided to take the plunge; I came home and called pretty much everyone I know over at my university Diabetes Teaching Center about the DexCom, and guess what? Ever-so-lucky-for-me they were just kicking off a Field Study (for patients of specific, participating doctors and offering the unit at a discount; nothing’s for free). So the plucky DexCom rep actually made a house call (can you imagine?!) on Friday and got me all set up — which was surprisingly easy. Sorry, no details on that process today. I am too excited! Here’s what I want to share first:

* It’s so easy to use that I’m baffled. Just two buttons, plus the calibrating with the OneTouch meter (which you need to make the system work at this point). But that’s a simple matter of 2 fingersticks and then using a cable to connect the two meters for a few moments. The DexCom screen displays your BG “line” over the last hour, three hours, or nine hours — in a way that even my grandma could understand (almost: she might’ve needed a magnifying glass).

* I can see my peaks and valleys — in real-time! I have learned for certain what I already kinda-sorta knew: I am eating way too many carbs for breakfast. I happen to love cereal and fruit and yogurt and pancakes — all of which are propelling me into the stratosphere (BG over 300) post-breakfast. Time for a new protein strategy here.

* What’s not so hot with this “first edition” is the 5-foot range. Five feet won’t getcha far! I keep walking out the room or leaving my purse upstairs with the Receiver in it, so that when I retreive it, I find it wasn’t reading anything all the time I was “out of range” and I have to wait for it to reset (albeit only for a few mintues, but difficult with my LOP {lack of patience} disorder).

* Sooo, in order to avoid losing contact, I really should/could/would wear the Receiver on my belt in its little black pager-ish carrier:

“Well that’s geeky!” my husband said when he saw it.Imgp2562_1

“Ah, it’s not so bad. Lots of people wear pagers and other gadgets on their belts,” I said.

“Yeah, if you’re a geek,” he replied.

Thanks, Hun!

On the whole, however, I am DELIGHTED to be able to see what’s happening with my BG 24/7. There’s nothing quite like it! I even keep it on my nightstand and push the button to check a bunch of times during the night. “Ho ho, going down!” Hubby’s response? See above.

Oooh, and another first: there’s my belly button on the Internet for the whole world to see. Life is funny that way.


24 Responses

  1. Kassie
    Kassie June 26, 2006 at 2:10 pm | | Reply

    It’s good to be a geek!

    Keep an eye out for cute cell phone pouches – the kind that clip on a purse or could be hooked through a belt loop. My pump fits in one like this: an it’s more comfy than a belt clip.

    Have fun watching the graph! I was amazed when I saw it on my friend over dinner at ADA. We ran a scientific experiment on the effect of a martini on her blood sugar :)

  2. Scott K. Johnson
    Scott K. Johnson June 26, 2006 at 2:13 pm | | Reply

    Yeah! I’m so excited to hear your real world usage perspective on this exciting little gadget.

    I got such a kick out of your husbands “Yeah, if you’re a geek” line – made me chuckle out loud!

    And your belly button looks just fine. I’ll post a pic of mine to make you feel real good about yours.

    Not really, I might get kicked off the internet for something like that.

    Now we’ll just have to watch for people stealing it and claiming it for their own!

  3. Living With Diabetes
    Living With Diabetes June 26, 2006 at 2:28 pm | | Reply


    Diabetes Mine: Think Outside the (Test Strip) Box: DexCom and Me I am seriously thinking of joining the Dexcom crown in August. It will be of course, out of pocket….

  4. julia
    julia June 26, 2006 at 3:51 pm | | Reply

    Wow, that’s very cool. I can’t wait until these are covered by insurance. I really want one for O.

    I’m not sure what to do about that Spanish site. I don’t blog that much about diabetes at the moment – certainly not with the depth and amount of information that you do. But I’m not comfortable with my name being associated with it if he’s just copying, translating and pasting other people’s articles. That’s not cool at all.

  5. Ed
    Ed June 26, 2006 at 7:13 pm | | Reply

    Fantastic, looking forward to following your experience with the DexCom STS. Our endo has recommended & we want to purchase, but DexCom refuses to provide more than basic info about system, no details about training, support, etc. ALL they want is a script and CREDIT CARD…. Their attitude will probably send them the way of the Glucowatch…. Too bad..

  6. Val
    Val June 27, 2006 at 5:07 am | | Reply

    Hey, congratulations, fellow geek ;) I am turning in my study continuous monitor today, and I too have bought a DexCom. I start this afternoon!

  7. Kevin
    Kevin June 27, 2006 at 5:16 am | | Reply

    That is awesome. I can’t wait to read more about your experience with it. I’m on the fence about shelling out the clams for it myself. I *really* want software support for the data before doing so, however.

    Keep us posted (which, I’m sure you’ll do!).

  8. Tiffany
    Tiffany June 27, 2006 at 8:36 am | | Reply

    Welcome to the CGMS club, Amy! :)

    Could this be the first step towards committing to the pump?

    I’ve heard that Lifescan will be discontinuing the OneTouch Ultra meter (since the Ultra II has been released). Has DexCom said anything to you about how they’re going to approach the potential problems that this will cause? I’d think they’re going to have to do software upgrades, if that’s possible with their unit…

    One real benefit to the Paradigm TGMS continuous monitoring system (I blog about it at is that I don’t have to wear an extra receiver; just my pump and the transmitter. I could see how that would be a real PITA for you!

    Keep enjoying the CGMS, I’m looking forward to reading more :)

  9. Nick
    Nick June 27, 2006 at 12:38 pm | | Reply

    Amy, your new gadget is both exciting and interesting. I hope you’ll write a review comparing readings of the DexCom wireless monitor with those from another reliable BG monitor. I look forward to reading it. I appreciate the information you’ve written on the DexCom. I look forward to hearing more about it.

  10. Nick
    Nick June 27, 2006 at 12:49 pm | | Reply

    How many times in an hour does the wireless gadget check blood sugar concentration?

  11. Eric Jensen
    Eric Jensen June 27, 2006 at 1:52 pm | | Reply


    I started my Dexcom a week ago, and I’m still getting used to it, but I really like it, too! Best of luck, and keep us posted on how it goes. My experience has been that my first 12 hours or so with a new sensor aren’t that good, but it settles in well after that. I’m just starting day 4 on my currrent sensor.

    I’m looking geeky these days, too, wearing my Dexcom on my hip. I’m hoping to find a better case for it that not only looks better, but is also a little more stable for exercising. The one that comes with the unit is a little too floppy for running around. (Though, as you probably know, once you start to sweat a lot the accuracy of the Dexcom readings goes out the window anyway – hopefully they’ll fix that in the next round.)

    When you find a cool case, let us know!



    P.S. Nick, the unit gives a reading every 5 minutes.

  12. Water
    Water June 27, 2006 at 2:44 pm | | Reply

    Does wearing the monitor make you more or less inclined to use a pump (geek/tethered to machines factor vs. desire for better control with better monitoring)?

    All these machines are very expensive, but the hope they bring is amazing.

    Now you’ve got one more diabetic thinking about doing better.

  13. Becky
    Becky June 27, 2006 at 7:40 pm | | Reply

    Congratulations! I’m so excited for everyone taking the plunge with CGM. I look forward to hearing your opinion as I will be shopping for one (for my son) in the next 6 months. I know the first generation products will need work but I don’t really care. I just keep thinking of all the benefits of continuous glucose data.
    I wanted to let him sleep in this morning so I had to check his bs every hour to make sure he wouldn’t go low (we upped his Lantus yesterday). I kept thinking, this time next year, I will just sneak in and peak at the CGM!!
    Good luck :) Oh, and I’m a geek too and I think you look pretty hip.

  14. AmyT
    AmyT June 28, 2006 at 7:28 am | | Reply

    Thanks so much, fellow geeks!

    Oh and Eric, I am looking for a nicer, more stable case that works for exercise as well. But I never wear belts, so I’m not sure where to hang it (:o)

  15. wil
    wil June 29, 2006 at 1:52 am | | Reply

    Consider a passport case hung from your shoulder that fits against you ribcage under an arm. That is worn under clothes and works very well under most all exercise clothes and street clothes when you haven’t got a clutch purse handy.

    By the way, nice navel. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Bad dog…

  16. Monika
    Monika June 29, 2006 at 10:33 am | | Reply

    How cool it that! I want one! Ahh…yes….I am a geek.

  17. PrintCrafter
    PrintCrafter July 1, 2006 at 6:25 pm | | Reply

    Well, I wear my Guardian, my Cozmo, and a little case for lancet & test strips all on my waist and no one has ever accused me of looking like a geek. Of course there is no room for a cell phone, which pisses my wife off ’cause she can never reach me….

    Welcome to the CGMS community! Ok, Ok, so it is more of a village at the moment…but it will be a community soon!

  18. Greg Appleton
    Greg Appleton July 3, 2006 at 8:14 pm | | Reply

    Is that similar to the medtronic pump monitor:

    I just love new stuff like that for diabetes. I hope insurance covers it.

  19. MikeG
    MikeG July 11, 2006 at 10:09 am | | Reply

    Welcome to the club! I’ve had my Dex for a little over a month. For me, it’s been a life-changing device. My average BS have gone from about 180 to 130. I can run for hours in the Alabama heat, and see what my BS is doing. I’ve learned more about what really affects my control in a month than I’ve learned in years of testing 10 times a day and reading everything I can get my hands on.

    This is clearly a first gen product, with a lot of room for improvement, but, even with the warts, this is the best thing to come along since home BS testing.

    BTW, are you hearing anything from your folks on when the software will be approved for users to download their readings to a PC? That is the biggest weakness of this thing, as far as I’m concerned.

  20. Sam
    Sam July 20, 2006 at 11:44 am | | Reply

    That’s great that you’re on the STS and loving it. I have been on it for about 7 weeks and a) can’t go without it anymore and b) have had my share of frustrations. You wont go many nights without hearing an alarm! You’ll be cruising along at 130 and suddenly it tells you you’re at 50 and alarms like your house is burning down! (test and see you’re at 130). So strange. I have been putting the sensor on my hip which is actually a) entirely painless to put on and b) completely out of site… though I guess it’s different as a guy. Any CGM users out there – please feel free to email me… I love to talk about it and I don’t know many people who are on it! One last piece of advice… if you’re “HIGH” according to the STS – be cautious – it tells me I’m high when the tests say I’m at 270 sometimes. I once gave myself a huge bolus because I was up in the HIGH range, then checked a half hour later and was at 120 (Dex still told me HIGH). Man was I sick after downing all that orange juice to offset it. Complaining aside, I still can’t go back to normal testing. The trends are too important to know to make an accurate decision. And have gotten 10 days out of my sensors at times.

  21. shawn rowley
    shawn rowley August 21, 2006 at 7:24 pm | | Reply

    dexcom is’t working for me!

    wow after reading some of the responces given by some of you i would think dexcom was the answer to my prayers. let me tell you a story…. about two months ago, i was working alone on a jobsite about sixty miles from my home. my blood sugar began to drop fast,but unfortunatly my body has lost sensitvity to hypoglysemia i have had diabeties for twelve years and it seems every year it gets worst. i test alot (between five and eight times a day) but some times it hapens so fast i just barely catch it. at night i don’t feel it comming on i can’t tell how often my wife has saved my life. she can tell by my responce or if i happen to be convulsing in a sezsure with my blood sugar in the teens. she deels with it but i feel ashamed that she has to she plays it of as part of her life. i can’t even express how badly it makes me feel. but thats not the worst of it. she is most afraid when i am alone. which brings me to two months ago…. i was alone and i remember feeling tired i sat down on the starway i was working on and that is all i remember. three hours later there is some one standing over me trying to talk to me i feel angry and agressive he is scared.(i am 6’3″ and weigh 300 lbs about 20% body fat) i am warning him to stay away i am very scared and don’t know what has happened i am 200 yards from the hous i was working in the back of my head has a hole in it blood and dirt are matted in my hair , my legs and body are covered in gashes and contusions and this sixty five year old man is trying to calm me and get me to drink the soda that was in my hand but unopened after drinking that soda (it was the second one he had given me) he helped me find my cell phone which was quite sone distance from me. we called my wife she was very upset as you can Imagine while low i had done a conciderable amount of damage to myself and my tools which were set up in the home but no damage to anything else thank heaven.

    i visited my doctor a few days later and told hom about the experience..he told me about dexcom it sounded great.

    but i trusted to much the machine was always a little of during calabration my trainer told me that the machine was “15 min behind and that it was ok” two weeks ago it wasen’t “a little off” it was 120 units off while i struglled in a hypoglycemic fog to understand what was happening i had nearly exactly the same experience i was closer to home and was helped by someone who knew me but i kept showing him the errant machine insisting that i needed insuline because my reading was high….dexcom has been in the lawer mode my doctor gave me the same treatment. they haven’t even offered to replace the unit i hope this technology works better for you…

  22. Jeff
    Jeff August 31, 2006 at 8:54 am | | Reply

    Newly diagnosed and still confused. Learning as much as I can. Amy’s blog is very helpful as it is written with style and humor. Even her Pupik (Belly button in Jewish) looks good, LOL.

  23. Dennis
    Dennis September 20, 2006 at 9:53 pm | | Reply

    9/20/06 I’m glad to report; my daughter’s DexCom is being paid for by her insurance. Pacificare of California first rejected it, then also rejected my appeal. It was then looked at by a pediatic endocrinologist of the California Independant Review Committee, and the rejection was overturned, citing improved glycemic control with no increase in hypoglycemia.
    We have been using DexCom for over three months, and I can’t imagine going back to only finger-stick tests. While I look forward to improvements in the device, such as waterproof and not needing a cable to hook it up to calibrate it, we have found what I think is the best location for her body to wear the device, and it works very nicely.

    I was very relieved – her DexCom has been approved, thank you Pacificare!

  24. lenlutz
    lenlutz January 31, 2007 at 11:16 am | | Reply

    Though excited beyound belief (at the idea), my experience (the reality) was anything but exciting ….
    read about it at

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