Why I’m Still Using My CGM

Yes, I know, I’m very delinquent in updating you all on my DexCom use.  Everybody wants to know if I’m still using it, and what my experience has been.  Well now, it’s a mixed bag, that’s what.  By all accounts, considering the tsuris (that’s Yiddish for trouble/inconvenience) it’s caused, I should’ve given it up weeks ago. But I can’t.  I won’t!

Reader MikeG summed it up best in a recent comment here:

“(DexCom) is a buggy, first-gen product that takes a lot of work and is often inaccurate… HavingStomach_dexcom said that, … I would rather go back to 18th century bloodletting than try to treat my diabetes without my Dex. I’ve also found the cost to be much less than I expected.”

My thoughts exactly.  So you want to know the specifics on why I continue to use my buggy, still-expensive, and too-often-beeping continuous monitor? (photo courtesy of Insulin Factor)

Well, first off, Mike also points out that in three months, he’s only had two hypos (as opposed to 1-2 per week).  Bravo!  Me too, pretty much.  And Mike’s A1c has dropped an entire point, from 7.5 to 6.5.  He feels he can do many things now that he couldn’t do before. Bravo, bravo, Mike!  I’m chasing your record here.  I can’t prove it yet, but I feel that my A1c is dropping.  And wearing the CGM gives me a huge sense of confidence; I know which way my BG is going, so I don’t have to suppress that subliminal panic when I work out or do other activities that make my BG swing.

As far as the day-to-day, it’s a constant adventure:

Let’s see, I’ve jumped in the shower forgetting the waterproof cover patch. Oops! Gets you a “shower spike” reading of 380 and above.  Sometimes the unit recovers on its own.  Sometimes you have to re-initiate it, as if you were starting up with a new sensor.

I’ve forgotten the shower patch was there, and walked around half a day with my Dex under a plastic cover.  Big OUCH removing the patch after that long.

Some nights it has me just under or over my alarm settings (<70 and >220), even though a fingerstick reading shows that I’m OK, so the Dex keeps beeping us awake. Bad Dex! On those nights, my strategy is to stuff it under some clean clothes in the laundry basket in our hallway so we don’t have to hear it all night.  That went well, till my 9yr-old asked what that bleeeeeeeppping sound was?  Sorry, honey.

Ooh, and here’s the big one: remember how frustrated I was trying to calibrate the thing over and over while we were on vacation in Germany?  Well, I called DexCom Tech Support when we got home and told them what for.  Turns out my unit was part of a “lemon batch” shipped in late June, that had problems with calibration.  So they sent me a brand spanking new unit via FedEx a few days later.  All I had to do was plug in my transmitter’s serial number, and now I’m good to go.  Working MUCH BETTER these days, in terms of calibration (less often, and it “takes” the first time) and accuracy as well.

Still, for those who’ve emailed me asking my advice on getting one, let me remind you: “it’s a first-gen product that takes a lot of work.”  At least the patient software is available now.  I’ve got to get on ordering that, although the extra charge kind of makes me mad.

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9 Responses

  1. Scott K. Johnson
    Scott K. Johnson September 14, 2006 at 4:44 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for the update – we were curious!

    I’m hoping that you’ll share some thoughts and opinions on the software once you have had some time to play with it.

    Take care!

  2. JasonJayhawk
    JasonJayhawk September 15, 2006 at 1:12 am | | Reply

    Whew, I wondered if that picture of the sensor was from your tummy! Hee, hee, hee, hee, haww, hee, hee! (Sorry, my wife will poke me for you.)

  3. TorMo
    TorMo September 15, 2006 at 8:43 am | | Reply

    Do you think you might change your eating patterns as a result of using the Dexcom?

    For example, I eat a standard lunch and dinner every day. But, especially where carbs are involved, it might make more sense to break the full meals into smaller, more frequent snack-meals (e.g. half a sandwich at 11:00 and half at 1:00, instead of the whole thing at 12:00).

    This would be inconvenient for anybody, but for us the extra testing would be a real nuisance (ouch! ouch! ouch!) With the Dexcom, the nuisance factor would be minimised, and if you were on a pump anyway, there wouldn’t be any extra shots necessary (just extra – but smaller – boluses).

    By flattening your eating patterns, you should be able to flatten your glucose levels. I’d try it myself, but the Dexcom is not yet available in Canada.

  4. AmyT
    AmyT September 15, 2006 at 8:52 am | | Reply

    Hi TorMo,
    Oh yes, I’ve made changes already.

    See my recent dLife column on the subject at:

    http://www.dlife.com/dLife/do/ShowContent/daily_living/Viewpoints/amy_august06.html

  5. Gary
    Gary September 22, 2006 at 6:44 pm | | Reply

    Amy,

    I’ve had the software installed for 2 days. Very helpful to have the data to analyze on a PC rather than on the tiny DexCom screen.

    The Consumer Version is exactly the same as the version my DexCom rep used, and probably the same version that DexCom is providing to endos offices.

    The graphical user interface (GUI) is outdated; reminds me of other quirky meter software I’ve used, however it’s wonderful to have the data.

    There are no major bugs that I’ve seen, and I’ve been able to email the data from my home pc to work, and open it up with the same software package installed at home and work.

    I’m sure my endo would love to have the data if Harvard Vanguard would let her receive attachments; they won’t so I’ll just FAX it over instead.

    Modal day is particularly useful; you can overlay up to 7 days of data on the same screen.

    DexCom is offering the software for $39, if you get the sensors autoshipped.

    -Gary

  6. AmyT
    AmyT September 22, 2006 at 10:46 pm | | Reply

    Hi Gary,
    I’ve got the software now, too (for $39)! I’m just playing with it a bit, and will post about my experiences soon.

    Thanks for your tips and feedback.

  7. Gary
    Gary September 23, 2006 at 4:56 pm | | Reply

    Hi Amy,

    I’m eager to read about your experiences with it. I imagine future software versions would be able to analyze the data and make recommendations on adjusting basal rates, CHO ratios, ISFs, and correction factors. Wouldn’t that be something?

    I’m quite impressed with your knowledge of the disease, considering you’re a relative newbie (I’m a newbie myself, dx’d in 1999 as a type 1 at age 39).

    Thanks, I really enjoy reading your blog!

  8. Anne
    Anne September 28, 2006 at 3:26 pm | | Reply

    Hi there Amy,
    Thanks for your column on the Dexcom. I am thinking of buying one. For the rest of Sept, they are half off ($400) if (and it’s a big if) you commit to buy 3 5-packs of replacement sensors over the next 3 months. Today I called and found out about the shower patches and that I’d have to wear one whenever I shower or swim… :(
    I guess I wondered a couple of things:
    1) do you really need to wear the shower patch? Could regular old tegaderm do the job?
    and
    2) do the sensors really only last 3 days?

    Thanks for your site. I have enjoyed reading…

    -Anne
    32-year old type 1, dx’ed 1988.

  9. chris
    chris November 24, 2006 at 2:39 pm | | Reply

    We have been using the DexCom for my 7 year now for 4 days. He has Type 1 Diabetes and Rolandic Childhood Epilepsy. With great customer support, it’s like I am using a Windows 95 PC in need of an upgrade.. Bugs everywhere. I have great faith though. cm

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