Dexcom G4: First Impressions.
The Receiver. Very first impressions? It is SO MUCH SMALLER. The shape is that of my glucose meter, and I prefer it. Though I never had any issues with The Egg (I sort of have a special, egg-shaped space in my heart for it), I do like a smaller receiver. It's fly. (Do people still say that?) And smaller. Smaller is better, for me, when I'm trying to carry several other diabetes items at once. The G4 receiver fits into my meter case, which is very convenient.
It also has a color screen. At first, I was "eh" about the idea of a color screen, because I didn't see how it would make a difference to me, but for that cursory glance at the screen, it does matter. Anything "above the line" is yellow, within range is white, and below the line is red. With a quick glance, I can see how long I've been in, above, or below range. And having the hypos as red works for me, because it's the most serious issue I face throughout the day. (Also, it's a nice change from the Seven Plus readout, which looked more like an old school Gameboy, whereas the G4 looks more like an iPod.)
The Transmitter. The range of the new transmitter is truly remarkable. I can leave my receiver on the kitchen table and go outside to rake leaves way out in the backyard, and the thing keeps the signal. I'm still testing how far I can go. :) The G4 transmitter is completely different from the Seven Plus in that it's a lot taller, so the profile isn't as streamlined on my body. Even though the sensor looks almost exactly the same (even though it has some subtle differences, like the gauge of the insertion needle is thinner and therefore more comfortable), the transmitter anchors in with a much higher profile.
This isn't a huge deal, but it's the most noticeable on-body change for me so far. I wear my sensors on my thigh, so in regular clothes, it's not a big deal. But in my gym clothes, which fit snugger against my body, the bulge in my pants is more of an issue. (And WOW that's a sentence I've never written before but now I can't unthink it or unwrite it so there you go.)
The Alarms. The alarms are amazing because they are different for low and high alerts. DIFFERENT. This has been something Chris and I have been discussing for ages. Sometimes, when the Seven Plus was alarming, Chris couldn't tell if I was low or high without reaching to the bedside table and clicking the screen alive. Now he knows what end of the spectrum I'm at just by the alarm. This is brilliant. And long overdue, in my opinion. Also, the alarms can be set to vibrate, soft, normal, attentive (this is where I have mine set, because they're musical), and hypo-repeat. When I'm low, the notes of the song go from high to low, and the reverse applies for the high blood sugar alarm. This is such a nice change because I know immediately what kind of issue I'm reacting to, without even needing to click the screen. (And to that end, it takes an extra second or two for the screen to come alive when I hit the button. I'm not sure what the delay is about, but it's not as fast as the Seven Plus.)
Battery Life. Just as a note, I've been wearing the system since Sunday, and I haven't had to charge the receiver yet. It's not even halfway down in battery life yet. This is a marked improvement from the Seven Plus, which I had to charge every other day. Also, it charges through a USB cord, so now I can pack fewer cords when I travel. Thank goodness, because my suitcase was starting to look like a giant electric spider was trying to escape it, upon unzipping the compartment I store my cords in.
All-Important Accuracy. So what about accuracy? The G4 claims to be more accurate, but I can't make that nod yet. I've only been wearing the new system for a few days, so I don't trust it yet. We're still in that "getting to know you" phase of our new relationship (even though I've already jumped into bed with it). I've had some moments I'm really impressed with, like the seven hour block where my meter and the Dexcom were never off by more than 10 points, but I've also had a WTF moment, like when the meter said 188 and 180 mg/dL (double-test), compared to the 64 mg/dL on the Dexcom. They did catch up to one another about twenty minutes later, but still. This is what is most important to me, and I'll be writing about the accuracy in more detail after I clock a few more days with the G4.
I want this new system to be exactly what I've been hoping the next generation would be: fast-becoming a replacement for many of the fingersticks I do throughout the day. Time will tell. In the meantime, I remain grateful for technology that serves as a safety net while I'm driving, exercising, sleeping ... living.