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Hanging on by a Thread.

I will do just about anything to keep a Dexcom sensor stuck for more than seven days.  Wearing the sensor on my thigh has been very effective because my that location allowed for a little less friction in the summer months, thanks to skirts and summer dresses.

With a little maintenance (read:  using bandaids to help stick down the sides that threaten to peel), I've been able to go from barely seven days with a sensor to an 11 or 12 day streak.  This is a huge milestone for me because a few months ago, that thing would have been melting off my body after four days, at best.

This Dexcom sensor is hanging on by a thread.

But they look like garbage once I'm ready to pull them off.  (And you can see the outline of the bandaid I had slapped on there for a few days in efforts to keep the sides from peeling back.  Not ghetto at all.)

These sensors are expensive.  And I treat them with appropriate respect.  (Also, they sting a bit to put in, so once they're in, I want to keep them there for as long as humanly possible.)  Which is why when they fail, I'm frustrated.   

I had my first ever "Sensor Failed" on Saturday.  Once the sensor in the photo above peeled beyond my ability to save it, I pulled it off and reapplied a new one.  No pain, no worries, fired up that sensor and waited for the two hour calibration period to pass.

Only the thing kept throwing "???" in the box instead of that shuffling gray line.  

"What the hell?"

After a full hour of triple question marks, I hit "Stop Sensor" on the receiver and restarted it again.  Almost instantly, the triple question marks came back.  Then, about twenty minutes later, the receiver BEEEEEEEP!ed loudly and I saw this screen for the first time:

"Sensor Failed."

Oh come on.

Because I'm both stubborn AND cheap, I restarted that same sensor again.  And again.  I spent about six hours starting and restarting that same sensor, in effort to keep from having to pull it on its first day of work.  I even consulted the online product information to see if there was something I was doing wrong.  By the time I left my friend's house and headed home, the sensor had died three separate times.  I knew the thing was kicked, so I went home to reinstall a new one.

Two hours later, the second sensor of the day was up, running, and giving me results that were within 10 mg/dl of my meter.  Like it has been for the last three months.  Like it should, in my opinion.  And today I'll send a quick email to Dexcom and let them know that the sensor wasn't as snuggly as usual.

The Dexcom, in my opinion, helped me improve my A1C.  It helped me stay on top of my blood sugar numbers instead of spending a few hours at a clip ignoring them entirely, and when it BEEEEEEP!s in the middle of the night and alerts me to a low my body hasn't acknowledged with symptoms yet, I'm grateful.  

It's not a perfect technology.  But it's worth the effort.

[Dexcom disclosure]

Comments

Dexcom had a big issue this summer with bad batches of sensors. I had 2 full boxes where nothing lasted more than 2 days. Luckily they are very good about sending free replacements for the duds.

Not perfect, yes. But even though the darned thing woke me up four (yes, 4!) times last night, I would never give it up. (I do, sometimes, fling it across the room though!).

Those 4 wakeups between midnight and 5am? 4 juice boxes = 60g uncovered carbs. 6am bg? 112. I'll take imperfect and no sleep vs visit from the paramedics anytime.

I use the Minimed rather than the Dex, and yesterday I got the first Bad Sensor error I've gotten in months. (Must be something in the air . . . ) I'm stubborn too - I restarted it as a new sensor wishing it would magically decide to work. It didn't. It gave me readings that never budged from what ever number my blood sugar was when I last calibrated. And this morning, it gave me the "Bad Sensor" reading again. I took the hint and pulled it out, and am putting a new one in after my workout. I just keep trying to remember that technology for these will (hopefully) just keep getting better and better, and we'll look back and laugh like we do now about the very first blood glucose meters.

I just had my first sensor fail this weekend, same story as yours. As far as keeping the sensor stuck down, I just did a video about it that might offer some ideas beyond bandaids, although those work great! Here is a link to the video where I tape my sensor down - http://www.1happydiabetic.com/apps/videos/videos/view/4822727-taping-down-a-dexcom-sensor

I swear I think we are living parallel lives in opposite ends of the country. I literally got the "sensor failed" on my Dex 3 weeks ago and constant "???" and several WTF moments since then.

Glad to know it's not just me.

These sensors are bloody expensive, so I'd be pissed too! I think they're about $100 each (retail).

I'm always annoyed that I get a high alarm in the middle of the night (even with increased basal rates), but I'd rather be woken up right around 200 than wake up at 7:30am with a 300+ bg.

It is frustrating ... I've only had 1 sensor fail for me too. I'm glad it doesn't happen more often! Hopefully this other one is working better for you and they send you a replacement pronto.

I am going on 11 days with a dexcom sensor, I've taped over it after just a few days with IV3000 and it seems to be sticking fairly well... I've had to replace the IV3000 three times now, but the sensor isn't in danger of falling off.. yet :)

I don't shower twice a day though.. usually just once, so that may be helping me.. I don't know.

I think if you beg them, Dexcom may send you a replacement sensor. At least, I've heard of this happening.

I have CGM envy! I am happy if my Minimed CGM is close by 50 points. :-)

Dexom sells some kind of sticky swab that you apply to your skin prior to sticking on the sensor - - my tape almost never peels at all - i get approx 12 days(then it fails) - a friend of mine got 17 days using the sticky swab. I dont remember the cost -but it was not alot(maybe $10 or $15 for a box) well worth it. When you call to reorder supplies, ask them about it. I'll try to remember to pull one and type you the name - but chances are i will forget to do that. good luck.

I'm just surprised you've been on the Dex so long and that be your first failure. I've got about a 25% failure rate.

I did learn one tip that's helped on some of my failures: Turn off the receiver and turn it back on. (The receiver, not the sensor.) I've had that work a few times.

Hmmm. I suspect all is not right in Dexcom land. 50% of the box of sensors (2 of 4) that they sent in August failed within a day. They sent replacement ones quickly, but unfortuately with my travel schedule, it meant I had to go without my Dexcom for week or so. Those replacements and my September box are doing fine so far, but not happy about the unreliability.

I've never seen the blue sensor. Is this different then the gray seven day one?

I had lots of failed sensors with the original three day sensor several years ago. After getting the new Seven+ last November I had 24 hrs of no readings at all, just ???. Customer service told me to remain patient and magically when I was about to take it out at the 24 hr mark - it finally began to work. There are definitely some stubborn sensors out there.

I'm on day 15 of sensor #2. It's taken a feat of taping a boxer's trainer would be proud of to keep it on this long, but I'm not changing it till the results become erratic. I ordered some mastidol (sp). I'm told it's like liquid bandaid. I'm only 2 sensors into the Dexcome experience and it's worth it's weight in gold to me.

Wow - I can barely get 6 days from the Minimed CGM. I haven't had too many fail, but the other day I caught it on a chair as I walked by and the whole thing ripped out! (even with tape) Needless to say, I was very annoyed! My trainer said I didn't need to wear tape on it, but I don't know how people wear them without tape and don't get caught on things.

All this information has been invaluable for me as I nervously embark on the Dexcom journey. Thanks for the tips!

Wow...11 or 12 days is some kind of longevity! I wonder if the individual wearing the sensor makes a difference (biology or maybe just a "smarter" user?)

I've been pretty frustrated by my CGMS experiences. Both the times I've done an exploratory stint on a CGMS (Dexcom a couple of years ago and Minimed last week) I've only been able to get about 5 days in before the sensor goes bad...either they start giving me readings that merely reflect the last calibration number, or they stop giving out any readings at all.

I'm too discouraged by my experiences to actually commit to a CGMS at this time even though I LOVE it when they're working! Expensive? Check. Unreliable? Check. Room for improvement? CHECK!

I am way impressed with the 10 point separation. Mine is either right on or crazy off.

Haha, this hits home... a few weeks ago I did that for a full two days. For two days, I played this game with my sensor, willing it to start... but it didn't, and eventually I acknowledged the defeat and moved on... but it was a tough one! :)

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