Assessing the MiniLink.
The MiniLink trial has ended. And I have plenty to say.
The Good: First off, Medtronic's level of customer service was unprecedented, which isn't unique for this CGM experience, but for my past four+ years with Medtronic on the whole. My representative was attentive and drove all the way frickin' down to me from Boston, spending several hours explaining the ins and outs of this technology. After I was hooked up, a local rep contacted me and offered to walk me through any issues. Also, my contacts at Joslin were quick to touch base and see if I needed a hand with the insurance hurdles. Overall, everyone on Medtronic's team made navigating this system as easy as they could.
The MiniLink CGM is smaller than it's predecessor and that shows me the kind of technological progression I need to see in order to become vested in a product. The shape of the transmitter is rounded and aerodynamic, helping it to lie flat against the skin and remain pretty incognito. And I didn't need to sport one of those wacky shower patched when I bathed, which was a definite plus.
On the second through the fifth days of a sensor, the numbers were within 50 points of my meter and I saw trends in my afternoons that I had no clue were happening. Thanks to the CGM technology, I was able to isolate a basal issue and tweak accordingly. And I loved - LOVED - looking at the graphs and seeing where I had pockets of lows or highs. Useful information, when it was providing the right data.
The Bad: The CGM has the best intentions, but only when calibrated in ideal circumstances, and my schedule lately hasn't provided many moments of plateau. The results aren't too shabby when I'm calibrating at the right times, but it missed three bad lows on my overnights - 43, 39, and 34 mg/dl, respectively. (And when alarms did go off, I couldn't hear them with the pump against my waist and buried underneath the winter blankets. With the alarm set at 70 mg/dl and not being on the sensor's first day, it should not have missed three of these.) That's the whole point of the damn thing - to protect me. It did respond more accurately when I was edging towards a high, which was helpful.
But wearing it? I'm not sure how you do it and not go nuts. I'm going to work and going to the gym every week day and the sensor did not make dressing for either event very easy. When I wore it on my arm, I bonked it against door frames and snagged it on sweatshirts. When I wore it on my thigh, it ached against my muscle tissue. And the three times I wore it on my abdomen, it was disagreeable because I do not like wearing anything device-esque on my stomach and it felt intrusive to me. The transmitter doesn't lay flat and seems flop around unless I tape it down with an inordinate amount of medical tape. And when I didn't have it taped down solidly, it shifted around a bit and tugged the needle out of place, which I found to be very painful. I do not want any more pain than is necessary, and bloody, botched sites do not bring me any peace.
The Honest: Unfortunately, MiniLink and I did not see eye to eye this round. I'm not comfortable making any efforts to have my insurance company pay for something that I found to be frustrating, and I definitely am not in a position to pay out-of-pocket just to have one to play with. I'm not comfortable using the MiniLink for my own diabetes management, but I don't plan on discouraging anyone from using it in theirs.
BUT - and this is huge - I am an adult. I can test my own blood sugar, dose my own insulin, and communicate how I feel. I can completely see how a CGM can help a parent of a diabetic child feel like they have a "translator" for their kid's diabetes. I've rec'd several emails from people on the Children With Diabetes board who asked me about the MiniLink and I recommended it, and other CGMs, to them for that reason. I can also see how people who have more time to commit to learning this device and spending several weeks making it work in their lifestyle could benefit from the technology. Maybe now isn't the right time for me to be wrangling in a device that requires plenty of fine-tuning and patience. But if not now, when?
I hope to retry the Dexcom 7 and see if there have been improvements made from the 3 series I tried last July. I know that different companies keep coming out with new versions of the continuous glucose monitoring systems, but I just want one that I can rely on, to a certain extent. Bells and whistles and colors and shapes don't mean as much to me as accurate numbers.