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If I Knew Then: Continuous Glucose Monitoring – Dexcom.

I tried my first CGM system back in 2006 (this post outlines the very first awkward sensor application) and have spent the last seven years or so being thankful that this technology exists.  If I knew then what I know now … actually, I started on a CGM as quickly as I could, and stayed on it.  Why I wanted a CGM is an easy question to answer, but there are a few things I wish I had known before starting out:

I wish I had known that some of the sensors would hurt.  So many diabetes devices are branded with “pain-free!” and “barely feel it!” advertising taglines, which I think is crap.  We’re talking about a needle that pierces your skin and leaves a wire behind, underneath your skin, for a week at a time.  To think that every sensor will glide under your skin with barely a whisper is bullshit.  Some of the sensors hurt like hell when they go through my skin, and sometimes it takes an hour, or a day, for the site to settle down and not feel so tender.  But most often, it is a reasonably quick pinch and then reasonably painless for the duration of the wear.  Your mileage may vary with each and every sensor.

I wish I had known the data would be addictive at first.  The first time I wore a Dexcom sensor, it was back in 2006 and was one of the first marketed versions of the system.  But I was hooked on the data.  I looked at the receiver every five minutes and went bonkers trying to make sense of the trends.  The trouble was that the readings were far less accurate back on the Dexcom STS, but I took them as seriously as the numbers on my glucose meter.  For the first few weeks of wearing the Dexcom, I drowned in data, obsessively checking it and chasing slight blood sugar climbs with aggressive correction boluses.  I needed to learn to let the data flow into my management, not change the flow of my management.

I wish I had known I would go through a data burnout – and that’s okay.  After I gave birth to my daughter, I went through some post-pregnancy burnout (adjusting to motherhood put my diabetes on the back burner for a few months) and for several weeks, the Dexcom was used to monitor my overnights (watching for lows), but not much else.  I wasn’t in a mental state to micro-manage my numbers, and instead I needed the Dexcom graph to confirm that I was at a stable enough blood sugar to take care of my kid.  The data was too much at times, and I frequently turned off the high alarm because it BEEP!ed relentlessly.

I wish I had known that thresholds were individual choices.  Everyone manages their diabetes in a different way, and even one, single person can have varying styles and preferences.  For a few years, I wanted to see my blood sugars between 60 – 220 mg/dL.  When I needed/wanted tighter management (pre-pregnancy and pregnancy), my thresholds were between  60 – 140 mg/dL.  And now, I keep my high alarm set at 140 mg/dL.  I like knowing when my blood sugars go over 140 mg/dL because that gives me a chance to head them off at the pass and keep them from climbing into the 180’s and 200’s.  Some people roll their eyes at wide thresholds, while others judge for not having the lines “tight enough.”  Where you set your CGM alarms is a personal decision and one that needs to work for you and your medical team.

I wish I had known, and had been ready to accept, the fact that wearing a second device was going to be a pain in the ass.  I wear my sensor on my outer thigh and the bulge is pretty obvious at times.  When I go running, you can clearly see the outline of the sensor through my running pants (and you can almost read the word “Dexcom” through running tights).  In a more fitted dress, the lump on my thigh is unmistakable.  And sometimes if the sensor is a tough too high or too low, it’s right underneath where the pocket of my jeans sits, making it feel particularly lumpy and awkward.  Of course, there are plenty of times when it’s barely noticeable, if at all.  (And it’s always fun, and a bit cheeky, to talk about “the bulge in my pants.”)

I wish I had known that I would eventually learn to trust the algorithm.  At first, I had to learn how to use my CGM, and I had to let the transmitter “learn” me.  The numbers I saw, when compared to my meter back in 2006, weren’t close, but I needed to understand that the CGM provides trends, not exact blood sugar results.  (The thing doesn’t even test blood sugar, but instead interstitial fluid.  Knowing that, however, still doesn’t make me want to throw all technologies across the room when the meter and the CGM are 100 points apart.)  And even now, using the most recent iteration of the Dexcom system (the G4 Platinum), the results are almost spot-on with my meter, but I need to remind myself to test my blood sugar to confirm how accurate the CGM is now.

I wish I had known that there could be an allergic reaction to the Dexcom sensors, but that it could be managed with someone as simple as a high-tech bandaid.  After spending months dealing with a very volatile rash caused by my skin reacting to the Dexcom sensor adhesive, a reader suggested that I use a Johnson & Johnson Toughpad underneath my sensor.  This simple solution worked to cure my Dexcom rash.

I wish I had known that the information I (hunt and) gather from my Dexcom data has made my diabetes easier to wrangle in.  Sure, the thing alarms all the time and yes, wearing a device isn’t ideal.  But when it wakes me up in the middle of the night because my blood sugar has dipped below 60 mg/dL, or when I can check it before driving and see, with confidence, that my blood sugars are stable before getting behind the wheel?  For me, that makes any and all of the inconveniences worth it.

What did you wish you had known, before trying out a CGM?

69 Comments Post a comment
  1. Michelle #

    From the perspective of a parent of a child with diabetes, I wish I had known that CGM would change the way we ‘do’ diabetes – both good and bad. (but far more good than bad). I think from my teen’s point of view, diabetes is more intrusive now, but from a parental point of view, I spend far less time asking him to check so that “I” know what’s going on, and can leave him out of the minuscule ridiculousness that is diabetes. It really allows us all to have some small ability to ignore diabetes until it’s time to pay attention. It does the worrying for us. “Is the correction working? ” “are the glucose tabs bringing you up fast enough?” It seems to give our brains a bit of a rest. That’s a good thing, in my book. He’s going to have it for a long time

    01/21/14; 10:02 am
  2. Hi Keri,

    I’m just learning to adjust to my CGM. I started just over a month ago and have some pretty big frustrations. (<a href="http://type1philly.com/2014/01/19/lying_sensor/&quot; target="_blank"Faulty alarms telling me my sugar is below 60, when, in fact, it's approaching 170; searing, burning pain when first inserting a sensor; and some other minor difficulties.)

    However, I like a lot of the tools that you mentioned: seeing what my overnight trends are; learning how to read the trends; being able to drive with confidence that my sugar won’t bottom out without warning.

    As I said, I only started CGM and pump use a short time ago. I’m curious why you chose the Dexcom when you did. Were there any other products available? Have you ever considered going with any other products?

    Thanks.

    Brian

    01/21/14; 10:24 am
  3. Christine #

    I wish I had known that stretch marks are considered scars and to be careful not to insert to close to them. And I wish I had a map of my abdomen so as to not puncture capillaries hiding under my skin.
    Christine

    01/21/14; 11:15 am
  4. Ginger Vieira #

    I appreciate this incredibly. I was scolded and roared at by a CDE-in-training-with-diabetes for putting my high-alarm at 140 mg/dL. Like you said, it’s a personal choice depending on your goals and where you’re at in your life with diabetes.

    01/21/14; 12:29 pm
  5. Gayle #

    I wish I knew that Dexcom is not Mac compatible. In 2014.

    01/21/14; 1:34 pm
    • YES. THIS!!!!

      01/21/14; 2:04 pm
    • Haha! Yup! This 🙂

      Also, the biggest lesson for me was to change the “snooze” on the alarms. I have my high alert set relatively low. I want to know when I am crossing the threshold so that I can make adjustments but I don’t necessarily need to be reminded every 30 minutes that I am still there (while I am waiting for the insulin to actually work).

      01/25/14; 5:37 pm
  6. I wish I had known that it’s okay to compare different vendors. Better than okay… necessary! And that it’s still okay to have buyer’s regret after picking one over the other because no CGM is perfect.

    01/21/14; 2:21 pm
  7. Leah M #

    What Gayle said! And I wish I had known that your favorite phrase, “your diabetes may vary” means that it can vary by hour, by day, by month, by phase of the moon, etc. I love my CGM–the current Dex is sooo much better than their first gen device, which completely turned me off to CGM for a while. But I also hate my CGM because of the data overload. I have no idea how my endocrinologist makes sense of it because there’s no such thing as a pattern or a typical day. But the data doesn’t judge me, and for that I am thankful.

    01/21/14; 7:09 pm
  8. Sandy T #

    I’m just glad you posted this! I keep telling myself i need to try mine again. Love the idea of putting the sensor on the leg. Was on the stomach, and oh my goodness did it get in the way! waistband anyone???

    Overall, I wish I had known to turn off all the alarms when I first started. It alarmed every 15 minutes the first 36 hours, which was miserable (and very distracting at work).

    01/21/14; 9:30 pm
  9. Caitie #

    Thanks for posting this! So incredibly timely! I’ve had diabetes for… almost 11 weeks now and there is great debate with my family about whether it is worth getting CGM before I can get a pump. Seeing my Diabetes educators on Friday! Gives me things to think about/talk about with them! Do many people get CGM without pumping?

    01/22/14; 6:31 pm
    • Kara #

      I’ve had type 1 for about a year now and have only used pens and the contour usb as my main tools. I’m not looking to get a pump YET but currently I am trial running the older version of the Dexcom. I didn’t know until last Monday people could use a CGM without the pump. THANKS PHYSICAN CARE TEAM. I’m doing lots of research on it now.. which I have learned is where you will learn most things.. researching outside of the doctors office. Right now my main concern is how much it will cost me, if its not extreme I’m going to go ahead and get it to support my glucose monitoring. I have found its a lot harder to stop and check my sugar after I eat or when I go out to the bars. I plan to use the CGM to help me learn how my body reacts to certain foods, how far in advance I need to give my meal time insulin, etc. I don’t think I will wear it everyday of my life, because it was certainly uncomfortable last night, but we will see!

      02/15/14; 1:58 pm
    • Nickisha #

      Hello, I just read your comment. I was using the CGM monitor before, but I stopped a year ago. Now I started back using it because I get a lot of lows at night time when I am sleeping. It is very dangerous, at one point my family had to call EMS for me. The CGM is very helpful for me, when I am low it will ring and when I am high it also will ring. I am very happy with it, but I have 1 problem, I get rash on my skin after I remove the sensor from my skin. I need to know how to prevent that.

      02/26/15; 3:59 pm
    • Delia #

      I am a type 1 juvenile diabetic of 22 years and cannot recommend a pump enough!!! I started out on shots when I was three and got a pump in middle school. The only reason I’m still alive and healthy is because of the increased control I can have with a pump that shots never gave me. I have had cgm for about 4 months and have developed a love hate relationship with it. It’s not incredibly accurate and I’m always double checking the numbers because it will tell me I’m 42 when my sugar is actually 99. It also gives me a rash which is incredibly irritating. However it can help me to predict when im heading out of my target and wake me up in case of night lows. If I were you, I’d buy a pump first but that’s just my opinion. And fyi the latest minimed pump, the revel, has cgm too if you’re interested, though I hear it’s not as accurate as dexcom.

      11/5/15; 8:19 pm
      • Jasia #

        I just started CGM and I don’t currently use a pump. I did for about a year and it really didn’t work for me. I’d rather inject insulin 10x per day than deal with infusion sets. I manage my diabetes pretty well when I’m thinking about it but with the pump I stopped thinking about it and my sugars were NOT GOOD as a result.
        What I want is more information and CGM has been heavily recommended, so far so good. I don’t know if I’ll wear this thing all the time but It will allow me to know what is going on with my blood sugar at night, how different foods are absorbed ( who knew if you start a meal with some protein really flattens out the peaks?), and how much sugar/ distance I need to consume when I’m on a long work out.
        A quick note as to the insertion, I find the 2 insertions I’ve done to be impressively painless. Obviously, I will be unlucky as some point and hit a sensitive spot but so far so good.

        12/23/15; 10:25 am
  10. Jack Milford #

    Does the new Dexcom use the same sensors as the earlier version, and are they still so painful to insert? I am considering getting one when the new Animas pump, with Dexcom CGM coordination, becomes available, but am averse to self-inflicted PAIN!

    01/23/14; 8:58 am
    • They are very similar to the Seven Plus sensors, but the wire is slightly thinner and the transmitter is slightly bigger. Details are on the Dexcom.com website, but from personal experience, I haven’t found too much difference, feeling-wise, between the Seven Plus and the G4 sensors. Accuracy-wise, though, the G4 is badass. 🙂

      01/23/14; 11:01 am
  11. Kerri I love this blog post. You read my mind on some of these things. I too had an extreme case of information overload at first but now I am use to it, I have adjusted.

    I wish I would have known how much “easier” it would make my life with Diabetes, sooner. I cannot go one day without my Dexcom and its data and keeping me on track. I have taken it off after a sensor ended for a day or two in the past and those two days my blood sugars were a mess. Dexcom keeps me on track for sure.

    I would have gone on a Dexcom as soon as it came out if I would have known of its existence and if my previous insurance company would have been approving them. They were only on a case by case basis in 2011, which is insane.

    Dexcom is still a totally foreign word in my area and it drives me crazy, I want to tell every single person with type 1 in my area about it and help them get on it.

    01/23/14; 11:27 am
  12. elsiroomom #

    I wish I had been prepared for the emotion of realizing what was happening “in between the finger pokes.” That the in-range number we felt so good about at finger-poke time had only arrived after his BG had come skiing down a peak like Everest 15 minutes earlier. That his breakfast peak was not just 250, but often well into the 300s sometimes.
    Of course, what we’ve been able to learn about that’s happening “in between the finger pokes” has been immeasurably useful in improving our management. For example, we’ve learned that he needs a lot more insulin from 9 pm to 1 am, and that we can change that basal without sending him low. We’ve learned that he really IS dropping over 100 points during a 20 minute recess. And we’ve got much more learning ahead, when get a new, less intrusive, more comfortable sensor this time around.

    01/28/14; 4:17 pm
  13. Dan McFee #

    In the next few years CGM’s are going to become practically mandatory now that research suggests that fluctuation is just as harmfull as the number itself.

    03/20/14; 11:51 pm
  14. Sarah #

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I had a not very good experience with a CGM about 5 years ago, and am considering trying again with the Dexcom G4. I’m using MDI vs a pump right now. I just got tired of negotiating with technology all the time, and went back to the “primitive” methods. But now I long for some of the convenience of a CGM, as well as a machine that will alert me when the bs starts to dive.

    Getting these “real life” balanced reports on the pros and cons is so much more useful than talking to a company rep. The practical tips (such as the snooze button on alarms) are invaluable.

    05/8/14; 5:25 pm
  15. Aunt_Cheri #

    Hi all.
    I am so happy I found this website. I’ve taken insulin for over 47 years, with thousands of low sugar reactions. I wish someone had told me that after numerous years, most diabetics lose many of their bodies’ normal low sugar indicators. I also wish someone told me that diabetics having low sugar reactions can become violent and insist that they’re fine. I tell others to not argue, but rather ask me to test for a current reading. A CGM would have avoided this.
    I’ve learned that my “fast” acting insulin takes four hours* to peak; and when it peaks, it works super fast. One time, before the pump, my sugar went from 350 to 50 in thirty minutes. When taking shots, all the insulin would delay kicking in for hours, but then activate within a very short time frame. This caused rapid and dangerous drops in blood sugars. The pump’s slow infusion of insulin has been a life saver for me, literally. I highly recommend a pump for all those who have sudden, dangerous blood sugar drops. *Btw, other insulins work even slower.
    I am currently using a meter multiple times each day to test. I hope to purchase a Dexcom CGM very soon. I’m having an impossible time ordering the Dexcom transmitter on line from Dexcom. I cannot find their webpage. Any help here would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks again for everyone’s insightful input. Cheri

    06/5/14; 2:16 pm
  16. Lucy #

    Hello everyone. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 3 weeks ago. Kerri, I don’t know if you get these notifications.. But could you elaborate more about running with your dexcom? I should be getting mine soon. I run half marathons and have a full marathon coming up in a few months. This diagnoses has presented me with a real blow. I went from running 10 miles no problem to running half a block! The cramps are slowly subsiding… I can now run 3 miles without stopping. I have tried to search on the internet but I feel like no one really talks about the initial exercise issues. Is this a real thing?

    06/9/14; 8:46 pm
    • Hi Lucy – I just emailed you.

      06/9/14; 11:51 pm
      • Jessica P #

        Kerry & Lucy,

        I have a lot of the same questions, particularly regarding exercise. I just got diagnosed at the end of May, at 34 years old. I love to exercise, mainly running and biking, but am kind of afraid to do anything hard or long due to issues with my blood sugar going low with exercise. Any advice is appreciated – such as how many carbs you have before, during, and after (and what kinds of things you eat during exercise – eating starburst during a bike ride kind of seems to defeat the purpose). I’m exploring the dexcom cgm, but I do the daily shots now and will probably continue on them vs the pump for the time being since I’m on a relatively low dose of insulin right now.

        Thanks!

        08/13/14; 2:45 pm
    • Michelle swearingen #

      Hi. I have had diabeties for 22 years. I am 44 years old. I started running about a year after my 2nd daughter was born in 1999. Believe it or not I still really struggle with my food and blood sugar levels. I have been on a pump for about three years and did a CGM for about a year but grew tired of “dealing” with technology, having not worn a CGM for a year my sugars are not being managed as well as they should and my Dr. suggested Dexcom so it should be here this week. I can run about 10 miles before I really start to have issues with my blood sugar levels, I like to run marathons and am training for my first Ultra but am running out of energy around 16 mile.. thoughts?

      01/30/15; 7:05 am
      • Danny #

        I suggest you take a look at this article on bonking http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/science-behind-bonking?page=single. It is old but it is the best one I have seen. It is specifically about running.

        I found it recently because my son, who is Type I, bonked while we were climbing Tuckerman Ravine for the second time that day after climbing to the top of Mount Washington and skiing down to the Ravine. Since he is type we were concerned it was a low but he tested at 140 at the time and hadn’t had insulin all day (something he does when he is climbing Mount Washington). He clearly bonked as his arms just couldn’t lift his skis anymore while climbing the headwall (I’ve bonked a couple of times in my life). I believe my son bonked because he focused on carbs and didn’t take in enough protein.

        05/20/15; 9:48 am
  17. Megan Fisher #

    I am dealing with a possible allergic reaction to the WIRE itself. Has anyone else known of someone that has been allergic to the sensor wire? I want to keep using the Dexcom because it’s immensely helpful in managing my diabetes but the rash I am dealing with is unbearable. I use a barrier for the adhesive so I know it’s not an adhesive allergy.

    Any thoughts/feedback is appreciated. If you or someone you know had an allergy to the wire was there another CGM that they COULD wear?

    Thanks!

    07/14/14; 9:30 am
  18. Shari #

    I don’t have an answer, but I’ve been worried about this. I have a metal allergy and have had to have a crown removed and replaced because there was metal in the glue or crown. I started using a Dexcom about one month ago and haven’t had any problems so far but I’m worried that over time my sensitivity will make wearing it difficult.

    07/14/14; 10:12 am
  19. Paula Schecter #

    I am unfortunately allergic to the sensor wire. I had this problem with the Dex 7. When the G4 came out, I tried again. 1 month in, I thought all was going well. At 5 weeks, the sensors started failing. Each time I tried, they lasted less time. I start to feel itchy. Usually, when I remove the sensor, I have a hard lump where the sensor wire was. I am extremely frustrated that this technology is not something I can use full time. I can get away with it once in a while. I usually take benedryl about midway thru the week and then can wear it for the 7 days. If I put in another sensor right away, it usually only lasts a couple of days.

    07/14/14; 4:23 pm
  20. I am trying to decide what cgm and pump combo to go with. I have severe lows at night but I am a light sleeper and have not needed anyone to wake me up or assist with a low as of yet and am a light sleeper. I do teach and loud alarms mid class could present problems so the ability to have vibrate mode available would be key. I am not a huge swimmer but do so more in the summer so water “proof” is not essential but a nice to have. I had gastric bypass four years ago and lost 104 pounds and am now down to 135 pounds and 5 feet 7 inches. I do have a fair amount of excess skin in the abdomen and around my belly button. Has anyone else had to deal with this excess skin and if so, how did it affect the sensor readings? Don’t know if insurance will cover skin reduction surgery. The rest of my belly is muscled and I am active so how painful are the sensors going to be? I have a pretty good tolerance for pain (out of bed and in a wheel chair 4 hours after c-section 😉 ) should I be worried about the pain???

    08/10/14; 8:42 pm
  21. Marc #

    I’m a late blooming T1 diagnosed right before my 40th bday. Been using the Medtronic pump and sensor combo and considering the switch to the Dexcom. While I like my pump, I’m not too keen on the CGM they provide. Has anyone made the switch? What are your thoughts?

    08/16/14; 5:10 pm
    • Frank #

      Yes. Dex much better than Medtronic CGM. But. Big but… No CGM is as accurate as a meter. Especially during transient sugar movement. Steady state is what it’s designed for. Trends are shown and helpful. The higher the sugar reading the more error. The faster the movement, the more error.

      03/28/16; 4:13 am
  22. Anne Kim #

    I have a brother-in-law who has had diabetes for quite awhile. He’s now in his late 70’s, increasingly becoming less able, especially falling often. I believe he just follows the regimen that his doctor has prescribed–which doesn’t include any monitoring except with finger pokes. Reading the thread has given me appreciation about how much he could be doing. I want to Congratulate all who are learning what they can about their diabetes and how to manage with it. Hopefully, this includes learning everything about a diet that supports a possible return to full health including information about probiotics, gut health, omega 3s, supplementation, etc. Thank you for such a helpful blog. Anne

    11/5/14; 3:18 pm
  23. Marty #

    Kerri, Glad I found your blog. I am considering starting both CGM and a pump. I’m actually testing the Dexcom (old version) now. I have had Type 1 for almost 50 years, diagnosed at age 18. I am decidedly “old school”, e.g., I still use a vial of insulin and syringe. Don’t know why I decided to try this now, but I have. A few questions that I have. Your comments about it not being painless, is that when you started in 2006, or does it apply to the current version too? And once you get started with CGM, is the twice a day calibration really necessary every day? Are there other brands of CGM that I should consider? Is there any place to get the equipment cheaper than Dexcom? Thanks. Marty

    11/14/14; 11:07 am
    • Lauren #

      Just wanted to say hi to a fellow “old-schooler” – I am still doing vial/syringe and just started using the Dexcom G4 a few days ago (my other post tells a little of my experience so far..).

      11/23/14; 5:49 pm
  24. Lauren #

    I am also glad I found this – it helped calm me a little – I am on day four of my very first sensor and well, we’re just not getting along all that well. It’s not being very accurate, and there’s some major psychological warfare going on, but I know I need to calm the hell down and relax a little bit!

    11/23/14; 5:43 pm
  25. Tati #

    Hello! Thank you for sharing your experience.
    You mention you controlled your glucose levels tightly before pregnancy and during it. Did you use dexcom while pregnant? I was so happy to discover dexcom before planning to conceive, but then I read in on of their tutorials that you can not use dexcom during pregnancy. Could you provide some more details about your experience with dexcom during pregnancy?
    Thank you very much!

    01/19/15; 3:39 am
  26. Charles B #

    I have enjoyed Type 1 for 33 years, receiving it with the diagnosis on my 10th birthday. I am grateful that I finally started to do some research on the pump and CGM. I absolutely love my endo, but he seems somewhat tied to a specific manufacturer. I was close last year to jumping in with a pump – mainly because I was led to believe that you could not just do the CGM. Recently, I was presented with a ton of information on the Medtronic 530G pump with Enlight sensor for CGM. Everything that I have read looks great, except for the fact that the Dexcom G4 just seems/sounds better overall. Better accuracy, longer-lasting sensors are the things that make a huge difference.
    I am going to get on board with the Dexcom G4, but also see that the Animas Vibe pump w/Dexcom G4 CGM was just approved by the FDA. This is so confusing.

    01/26/15; 6:04 pm
  27. Does anyone know if your Dex is working just fine, but the warranty was up about a week ago, can you continue to use it? Have a new one, but it seems a waste to get rid of old one if it still is working. And, does anyone leave them in for two weeks??? Opinions please.

    02/8/15; 10:50 am
  28. Tiffany V #

    Hi Kerri and All:

    I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or tricks on preventing the Dexcom G4 from popping out. I’m a pretty active person and after the first few times wearing it, it managed to pop out.

    03/3/15; 11:23 pm
  29. Razz #

    Wow. Fascinating reading all this………I have had Type 1 for 35 years, diagnosed at the impressionable age of 16. I have rarely ever had health insurance and was wondering if either of these companies offer help in paying for CGMs.

    I am still a vial/syringe user, mostly because of the above issue, which is connected to the costs of this technology.

    I know that the drug companies have programs for people who cannot afford their medications. What about someone who cannot afford this wonderful technology to better take care of ourselves?

    Any thoughts?

    06/5/15; 12:56 pm
  30. Brian B #

    Hi All –

    Probably similar to other diabetics, I like to collect lots of data to help with managing. As of Friday, I received the dex g4 system. I’m not extremely familiar with the device yet, but somehow I got the impression from the sales guy at dexcom that I could eliminate my meter aside from the twice-a-day calibration. So, despite dexcom’s “warning” of not using it to replace your blood glucose meter, is anyone using it in that capacity around meal times? I’m considering returning it for that reason, but also because of the expense, not to much the inconvenience of another device stuck to my body. I also found the insertion process a bit uncomfortable. Is it worth keeping if only to have that data??

    Just looking for opinions.

    Thanks.

    06/22/15; 2:18 pm
    • Gretchen #

      Wow, that is good info. I just realized that cgm’ s exist. However, I don’t want to go back and forth with the meter. I think I will look on YouTube for a demo.

      08/4/15; 9:45 pm
  31. Chris Franklin #

    I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic for 25 years. I was diagnosed at age 18 during my first year of college at U.Va.

    I used a Disetronic pump for about 10 years — 2001-2010, then I too a break from it for about 5 years. HBA1C’s stayed mostly in the same range with and without the pump — mid-6.0 to 7.0.

    During that time, I also attempted to use a device called the Glucowatch which was on the market in 2002. It was FDA approved and was supposed to provide non-invasive glucose measurement on a continuous basis. But I found its results to be dangerously inaccurate. The company ultimately went out of business and I found myself out $600

    After getting burned on the Glucowatch, I was a bit gun-shy about using CGM devices
    But, two months ago, I recently started using the Animas Vibe pump/CGM which uses the Dexcom sensors.

    Yes, there’s a bit of a learning curve for one unaccustomed to using the CGM sensors, particularly if you attach them in locations like the back of the arm. But overall I have been impressed with the accuracy the Dexcom Sensors provides.

    It’s a little early, but right now I’d have to recommend the Animas Vibe to my fellow Type 1 Diabetics. There’s no need for it, of course, if you are already using a Dexcom receiver and sensors in addition to a regular pump (unless you’re a real fiend for consolidating the number of devices you carry).

    07/5/15; 10:56 am
  32. John #

    Diagnosed at 15, type I for 29. Using Minimed pump and CGM. I can’t stand Minimeds CGM because I get these sores or allergic Reaction from that clamshell! I feel toxic after 2 days of using it. I’m hoping the CGM w/ Dex does not cause this problem. Additionally, I’m hoping the needle is not as large. I have not switched to the elite but friends have recommended the dex because others can also monitor my BG on their Apple phones. That feature sounds like a selling point for me.

    09/12/15; 2:41 pm
    • Sandy #

      John, I use the Minimed pump (since 1989) and used their CGM starting in 2004, and had the same problems -sores, allergic reactions -awful! I started on the Dexcom 3 years ago and have had none of the same issues with it, plus it is amazingly accurate and easy to insert, minor pinch to nothing when I insert. I would give up my pump before giving up my CGM (but it’s good to have both) Give the Dexcom a try and hope I it works as good for you.

      12/29/15; 1:53 am
  33. Glenn #

    I’m the parent of a T1D young child (3 years old, and diagnosed at 14 months). I love knowing where he’s at without having to check all the time. I was relying heavily on it to notify us of lows at night while us parents were sleeping.
    However… I’ve now discovered that sometimes there can be an “unknown sensor prompt” (which is shown as ??? on the screen). Unfortunately, there IS NOT ALARM for this condition, which can last for several hours. This happened in the middle of the night the other night, and fortunately our son didn’t dip low that night.
    I have no idea why Dexcom wouldn’t have an alarm when the data received isn’t known, but do have one for out of range. Sort of the same risk of a problem, right?
    Anyway, if anyone knows how to create such an alarm, please advise. Otherwise, I will continue to set a 2am alarm EVERY night to check and ensure the CGM is functioning.

    09/27/15; 2:39 am
  34. Bill #

    Hi everyone!
    Does anyone know how accurate the Dexcom or any other CGM is? If my glucometer reads 85 what do these read? Looking for accuracy and how much these costs. Unfortunately, websites don’t mention much.

    Been type 1 since 12 months old and I’m currently 46. I have lost 75% of the feeling in my body and I can test my sugars with my glucometer and it will say 27 without me noticing. My A1C runs between 5.1 and 6.8 the past 3 years but unfortunately over 75 pass out reactions the past 3 years.

    Any info anyone can give me for somebody that just discovered these machine even exist please let me know.

    Thanks and take care,
    Bill

    12/21/15; 9:50 am
  35. Matt #

    my wife is on her seventh transmitter in 5 weeks for her g5. Dexcom has been great about replacing the failures but this is way too high of a turnover I don’t see any other users mentioning. Any suggestions would be greaaaatly appreciated. Thanks

    02/1/16; 7:59 pm
  36. That’s really interesting. I started my son on the G5 our first CGM on Thursday. So far I’m loving it. Though there are few things I think Dexcom could improve on quite easily. I wish I’d known soon that the bribe of an iPhone was all it would take to persuade my son to try something new. The insertion device looks like some pre-historic torture instrument and it put us off for so long.

    02/28/16; 9:16 am
    • C. Kay #

      This was incredibly validating for me. Just received our G5 CGM and my teen son was on board until the “torture instrument”. I’m going to push a bit harder for his buy-in but geez Dexcom….very scary looking applicator!

      03/2/16; 7:51 pm
      • amy #

        It doesn’t hurt at all. The only inserter/needle I had hurt with was medtronics first sensor. It had a thicker needle that you could see which freaks a person out anyways. These at least, are painless.

        04/29/16; 1:58 pm
  37. Katie #

    I have been using the G5 for about 3 weeks now. I will agree with the information overload. I have found that sometimes the information is too much and i have tried to over correct which has caused me to experience severe lows. Not fun, not fun at all. I am having issues with my insertion sites, i have not read anywhere about inserting the sensor anywhere other than the stomach area for the G5. Does anyone have any insight on this? My stomach is always getting red and the adhesive on the bandage works for only a day then i have to utilize tape to keep it on. This is the 4 sensor i have used and they are just plain uncomfortable and seems to always be sore. I love the cgm and want to keep using. Any tips, wisdom, experiences with G5 would be greatly appreciated!!

    04/25/16; 6:55 pm
    • Amy #

      Ever sensor company says just to use the stomach and not have it in a spot that it would be “bent,” but what they do not tell you in training that you CAN wear it other places. I have been on the cgm for years despite today being my first day using Dexcoms. I have put it on my thigh, my butt(though that is harder to shoot in ) , l have also used the “backside” of my torso. Neither of these sites have been different reading vs my stomach. I haven’t tried my arms for the same issues as a butt. … hard to reach and tape without having another person helping you do these things.

      04/29/16; 1:55 pm
  38. Amy #

    I wish I had changed to a Dexcom sensor way before today. I had started with Minimeds sensors but this year was the end of it. I am now wearing both sensors- to compare the two results , just because I am curious to see the difference between the two and how close the dexcom is to my meter reading. I am looking forward to getting my A1c even tighter than the 7.6 using the Dexcom . 🙂

    04/29/16; 1:50 pm
  39. I just got a text from my DNE wanting yet another pic of my insurance card, saying she was on the phone with Dexcom. My husband & I purchased the Enlite system in late 2014 when I got my new 530G pump out-of-pocket, thinking surely insurance will soon cover sensors! SURELY!!?? Um, nope.
    So we are still paying on this blasted thing that’s been sitting in the cabinet after the sensors in the kit ran out…ARGH!
    This new insurance covers CGMs, thank God, but now I’m praying we don’t have monstrous copays. I went through almost all of the stuff you mention in the short month I had my CGM. After 40+ years of T1D, I’m severely hypo-unaware and we were riding road bikes at the time (with pedals, not a motor!) and I was trying to get up to doing at least a half-century ride (which I DID!) so going low while speeding downhill and not having a clue was not good. Neither is stopping every 5-10 miles to test. UGH!
    I’ve had several serious episodes where I’ve gone so low, seemingly (b/c I never feel it) so quickly that it’s been super-scary. The feeling that you’re about to die is one I’d rather avoid if at all possible. When you’re walking around, helping move heavy furniture then find, after the hubby thinks you look kinda pale so “Why don’t you test, hun?” that you are actually at 27 is something I’m REALLY looking forward to not dealing with anymore!
    I don’t make it over here as often as I’d like, but I love your blog! 🙂

    05/13/16; 11:27 am
  40. Jennifer #

    Hi all – we have a 9 year of boy that we put on a dex (as we lvingly call it) on day 11 post diagnosis – the 1st of May (still no pump). The initial decision was made easy by the fact that we were headed to India immediately after diagnosis (far be it for diabetes to stop us – or at least that was the intended message for our son). The dex was immensely helpful to us and we quickly grasped using the tends to substantially support management for our son. He also tends to go low at night, so the dex allows us to get some sleep without excessive worry. As well, because he currently has no symptoms he associates in being low, the dex has saved his bacon on several occasions from what would have been an extreme low. We did learn though, particularly in the pediatric population, the accuracy is not spot on, and the day we had an alarm at our set point 4.4 which turned out to be a 3.2 by poke, we learned to set the warnings higher for lows to give us a bit more leeway.

    We have also learned that you can leave sensors in 2+ weeks with no ill effect on the boy (just stop and start a sensor) and a positive effect on the pocket book. We have learned that the sensor is actually more accurate in week 2, but that active boys are killer on adhesives! We have learned that it is likely insurance won’t cover it, making that two week sensor runs appreciated. We have also learned, with the help of Nightscout and the cloud that we can monitor our sons glucose anywhere he goes, and we learned that we quickly became addicted to this info and knowing he was ok. Lastly, we have learned that we may have to *sometimes* give in to his desire to be “gadget free” but we won’t sleep well when we give him a day or 2 break! I suspect the dex, and diabetes had more to teach us. Like the rest of you, things I hope one day kids and adults alike won’t need to know because they have a cure.

    Peace and blessings to all of you on your journeys.

    06/23/16; 10:21 pm
  41. Donna #

    This is so helpful! I am about to take that plunge for my T1 14 year old. Knowing these things is invaluable. Thanks!

    08/12/16; 7:49 am
  42. Julie #

    Hi Sheri
    I need a CGM. of all the careers I have chosen massage therapy and cannot test frequently for obvious reasons. Although I run my own schedule I still find I go for hours not testing eating or taking care of me as I look after others all day. I need to plan my schedule differently and also be able to look at where my sugar is going. not on the pump yet either. would you recommend getting the dex even tho its separate system that others that are built together? bottom line is it needs to work and for that it needs to be accurate.
    I am also taking steroids so my sugar runs crazy high whatever I do.
    I am 43 and this could end my life badly if I don’t do something now about it.
    Thanks! Still looking up!:)

    08/28/16; 8:52 am
  43. Kelleigh #

    My 25 year old son was just diagnosed T1 today. I’m reeling. So much poking, and checking and counting. I am an RN, so I know the “worst case scenario”, which probably makes this even harder for me to process. Does anyone recommend going straight to the CGM or should he spend time with the regular glucometer first? The idea of an insulin pump freaks him out. Any tips, tricks, resources anyone recommends to manage this with the least amount of life disturbance? Any good meal plan resources? Thank you in advance!

    11/28/16; 9:25 pm
    • I’m very sorry about your son’s recent diagnosis :(. Diabetes isn’t fun. I was diagnosed when I was seven and have had it for almost ten years. I was afraid to get the pump too, but eventually I decided to try it. I think I was ten when I got mine, and can’t imagine life without it. The pump would definitely make it less of a disturbance, once he’s gotten used to it. There are a few extra things you need to keep in mind when using a pump, but like I said, it’ll be no problem once he’s gotten used to it.

      The CGM might be a little too much right now. I really think it’d be better to start with just the pump first, and wait until it becomes second-nature to him before getting the CGM. I’ve only just started using the CGM, and though it does give me a better sense of security, it’s *another* thing I have to stick into my body. I feel like I’m turning into a cyborg :-/. I did fine with just the bg meter up until now, but I also make sure I check myself *very* often. And there have been times where I’ve gone very low at night. Some nights I end up forcing myself to stay awake for an hour or two just to make sure my level won’t go low while I’m sleeping. I feel better at night when I have the CGM on. It’s also been great while I’ve been driving. I’m just learning how to drive, and the last thing I want is to worry about my blood sugar. Since the CGM lets me know when I’m going low, I don’t have to be so concerned. When it alerts me, I can have my mom or dad check me and/or pull over if I need to.

      There are a few things about diabetes that I was never told but wish I had known. Maybe you know about them, but I’ll mention them anyway just in case you don’t. For one, diabetics really need to make sure they drink enough water. Being dehydrated will make your blood sugars less stable, so they could more easily shoot up and may be harder to get down.
      Another thing is the less insulin you have to take, the better: insulin, just like any other medication, has side effects. And I don’t mean hypoglycemia (I don’t even know why they list that one as a “side” effect ‘:-/ . It is *the* effect. I mean, duh, the whole point of it is to lower blood sugar). The only side effect I’m really aware of, which I think is probably the most important one, is that it weakens your heart muscles overtime. So going low-carb is definitelly the best thing for a diabetic – but at the same time you need to make sure you get enough carbs. I’ve read that 50-80g PER DAY (not per meal) is best for diabetics, and that sounds about right based on my own experience. It will help keep your sugars more stable, you won’t have to take as much insulin, and it will be enough carbs to keep you from going into ketoacidosis. The website I got this information from is here: https://diabetesmealplans.com/47/how-many-carbs-per-day-for-a-diabetic/. It also has meal plans for diabetics, though I haven’t tried them myself. My family’s on a sort of Paleo-ish diet. We’re just not as strict as Paleo (we still eat dairy and go out to eat occasionally).
      I just recently started my own blog, sweetofcourse.com, where I post paleo-friendly desserts. They aren’t necessarily low-carb, but they are better for you and shouldn’t hurt if you have them occasionally. I also have my story of the diet change and how it affected my diabetes. It’s still a very obscure site, so you’d have to directly enter the url to get to it.

      I kind of see getting used to diabetes as learning how to drive a car. At first you’re a bit shaky about it, especially since, well, you could die. But the more you do it, the easier it gets, and while you’ll always have to be careful, you’re confident enough to not worry about it so much.

      I’m not sure how much of this info you need still, since I see you commented 9 months ago, but if you get this I hope some of it helps. I wish you both the best!

      08/12/17; 1:08 pm
      • Uh, one more thing – about the CGM. I didn’t realize that there were options that didn’t need a pump. Mine connects to my pump, so I wouldn’t be able to get the CGM readings without it. When I wrote the above comment I was thinking that you’d be getting the CGM and pump at the same time, and that it’d be better to try just the pump first. But if you wanted to try just the CGM, I don’t think it would hurt. It’s not like it can give or suspend insulin – it’s just a little extra bg tracking.

        Again, not sure you need this, but if you don’t maybe it could help someone else.

        08/12/17; 1:18 pm
  44. Heather #

    Dexcom killed my father. The recall of G5 early in 2016 was one week after his monitor did not alert during his sleep resulting in heart failure. We sued and received nothing other than them admitting to “bad timing”. I would remain leery of any dexcom product. If you want to know more about my story please email me at hapauline82@yahoo.com

    04/11/17; 4:42 pm
  45. Kayla #

    I just got the CGM and your two main reasons for liking it are the same as mine: warning me if I’m low when I’m asleep and keeping an eye on me while I’m driving, especially since I’m just learning how to drive. I haven’t had problems with the site hurting yet but it does itch.

    08/12/17; 9:54 am

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