Last Thursday, my local Dexcom teaching nurse came to visit me here at dLife. I think she's fantastic, but I'm also tremendously biased. Little back story:
When I was first diagnosed, I was a little peanut of a kid. My parents had no experience with diabetes or how to handle type 1 being a part of their child's life, so they looked for help within our town. As fate would have it, one of my father's cousins (one of those once-removed cousins added to the family by marriage sorts of things) had a son with diabetes. Jim was diagnosed when he was 18 months old, his mother, Eleanor, was a registered dietitian and had spent time as both a diabetes professional and the mother of a kid with diabetes. Perfect guide for my parents, right? Right. For years, my mother and I traveled to Joslin with Eleanor and Jim for our back-to-back endocrinologist appointments. And when my parents would go on vacation, I would stay with Eleanor and her family because she knew how to take care of me.
So imagine my surprise when I find out that the CT/RI Dexcom teaching nurse is Eleanor! Holy small world. And holy long story, sorry about that.
Anyway, Eleanor came to visit me last week and brought me two spare Dexcom sensors. We covered a lot of the technical bits about Dexcom'ing, as well as some tricks o' the trade. My session with Eleanor helps me answer some of the reader questions I've received over the past few weeks. Like these:
Q: Can the sensor get wet? I used the Dex3 and had to wear the shower patches. They were terrible!
Yes, the Dexcom 7 sensor can be worn in the shower and the pool and any other soggy environment. You don't need to wear those wild shower patches that eat your dermis anymore. But here's something I didn't know: When you are ready to put a new sensor on, you should clean the underside of the transmitter with an alcohol swab or similar. I thought you weren't supposed to get this transmitter wet at all, but it turns out that a good swabbing can remove any soap residue, body lotion, or other random smudgy bits that may worm their way underneath. This cleaning process helps retain the integrity of the transmitter.
Q: I've seen you wearing the sensor on your arm. Aren't you supposed to wear it on your abdomen?
Ahem - according to the official Dexcom guidebook, "Choose a site on a fatty area of your abdomen (belly) to place your Sensor. You can choose a site above or below your beltline. The best insertion areas are usually flat, 'pinchable,' and relatively free from where rubbing can occur (i.e., pant line, seatbelts)." However, and off the record, the sensor can be worn anywhere there is a good amount of fatty tissue so you can grab the ol' interstitial fluid easily. For me, I have a lot of placement options. I've been wearing the sensor on my arm because that keeps it away from my waistline (I hate wearing any of these devices on my abdomen) and doesn't encounter much friction throughout the day.
Q: You always talk about how you want your diabetes to be "seamless" and you've talked about how you hide your insulin pump so that it's not part of your wardrobe. So, my question is, how come you don't wear your sensor on your stomach or thigh?
This reader caught my recent dLife column, where I talked about some people staring at the Dexcom sensor on my arm. This is a very good question. I wear the Dexcom sensor on my arm because it stays put there best. The sensor is less apt to become peeled back and doesn't catch on my waistband. It is also less likely to become loose and therefore irritating. I don't feel comfortable wearing any diabetes devices on my stomach, and my legs are too muscular for the sensor. Also, the sensor needs to be away from any insulin pump infusion set and from big pockets of scartissue. So ... my arm is the best out-of-the-way location for Dex and still have it working correctly. I'm trying to find the compromise between "external symptom" and "using available technology." People stare sometimes, which makes me bristle a bit, but I would probably stare, too. It's a different look for your average twenty-something. ;)
Q: Can you get more than seven days from one sensor? Or are you just sticking $60 on your arm, getting a week from it, and then ripping that $60 off? I can't imagine!
I haven't had the opportunity to restart a Dex7 sensor because the past few have melted off me before the seven day point. On this last sensor, Eleanor applied some SkinTac on the sensor gauze and it has held steady through daily showers, daily workouts, and this blasted heat. I have heard that you can "re-queue" a sensor by "pretending" that you've installed a new one. I will give this a go next round.
Any other CGM-type questions? Send 'em to kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com.
EDIT: Again, comments are being problematic. Hopefully they're fixed now. I need a new webhost, damnit. Thanks for letting me know, Rachel!