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Second Impressions: Dexcom G5 Mobile.

Disclosure Up Front (where it should be)I have a relationship with Dexcom that includes receiving my continuous glucose supplies at no cost.  More details are outlined here on my disclosures page, but please know that the bias I’m bringing to this is pretty significant, not simply because of the working relationship with Dexcom but also the fact that this CGM has been part of my diabetes care plan since 2006, so I’m in deep for a dozen different reasons.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

It’s been about a month since suiting up with the Dexcom G5 (upgrading from the previous G4 iteration) and so far, the transition has been way less jarring than I had anticipated.  Here are some second impressions:

The Parts I Like:

I was initially concerned about phone battery life, but I haven’t seen any significant change since switching to G5.  (Must be noted:  I upgraded my iPhone two weeks before starting on the G5, so any battery improvement was a big deal after switching from the iPhone 5s, which would eek down to 80% an hour after unplugging.  Also, I didn’t realize until very recently that you can double-click the home button to bring up all active apps and then close said active apps.  These two changes have improved my phone battery life exponentially.)  But having the phone as the sole data receiver has made me fastidious about bringing a back-up battery charger everywhere I go.  Which is not a new thing, but now feels like a necessary thing.

I had doubts about using the G5 on an airplane, as well, until I remembered that Bluetooth can remain active even when a phone is in airplane mode.  I’ve had a chance to test out the G5 while traveling a few times now and the phone makes a fine receiver even when it can’t make phone calls.  This was a relief.

I haven’t traveled outside of the US yet with the G5, but I’ll be headed to Vancouver for the IDF conference this afternoon, so I’ll have a few days to see how the G5 does when my cell phone has no service.  (I’m guessing Share will be out of commission unless I’m connected to wifi.  Filed under:  No shit, Sparling.)

I really dig the Dexcom Clarity application on my computer.  I know this isn’t new with the G5, but I’ve only been using Clarity since upgrading to the G5, and it’s very nice to see the data living happily on that system.  I like the A1C predictor thing, but have found it a bit fickle.  (“Your A1C looks great today!” … three days later … “Your A1C is crap.  Go directly to jail.”)  I’m still waiting to hear what my actual blood-draw A1C is, so I can’t compare the estimation to the lab work, but I’m curious to see how close those two numbers are.

Accuracy-wise, the G5 does seem to be an improvement.  The data is spot-frigging-on with my Verio Sync results.  No complaints there.

The Parts That Could Use a Shift:

I also don’t like that the alarms on the Share are exactly the same as those on the Dexcom app.  This works great for people like Chris, who follows my Dexcom data through the Share app, but for me, I am responding to my personal alarms and the alarms for the people who Share with me.  I would like the ability to change the alarm noises on my Share app so that when a low alarm goes off, I am positive it’s mine.  In the last month, I’ve treated two lows that were not mine because I responded to the alarm noise instead of checking to see which PWD was actually low.  This is a problem unique to PWD who follow other PWD on Share, but it’s making me feel daft and changing the sound would be an upgrade.

The transmitter is bigger than the G4 one.  I was not as irritated by this as I thought I would be, but when I wear the sensor on my arm, it’s very sticky-outty, and I don’t like more space being dedicated to diabetes devices.  It would be awesome to have the transmitter the size of the G4 one.  Or the size of a grain of rice.  The transmitter also claims to work for three months (instead of the six promised by the G4, which actually ended up being more like 8 months), which means I need to order new transmitters more often.  That adds one more item to the constant “to do” list of diabetes supply crap.

The G5 sensors are the same as the G4 sensors, which means the adhesive is the same as before, which means I am allergic to it.  Toughpads are still required under ever sensor, for me, and with winter almost here, my skin is starting to have its seasonal freak-out.  (The rash is not unique. There is a Facebook group with almost 500 members in it that are comparing ways to mitigate the itch.  Come on, Dexcom — find a way to update your adhesive with as much speed as you’ve done with your data transmission.)

I use an Animas Vibe insulin pump and the G5 does not transmit data to that pump.  So if my phone dies, I can’t switch over to the Vibe as my receiver.  I look forward to when the pumps integrated with Dexcom upgrade their abilities to work with G5.  Until then, it’s annoying to take one step forward with Dexcom while standing completely still with insulin pump technology.

The Parts That Remain the Same:

I never thought I’d see streaming glucose data.  I’m so grateful that I have access to this data because this is the kind of real-time safety net my parents were hopeful for back when I was diagnosed.  I’m sorry they weren’t able to take advantage of it then, but I’m glad it’s here now.

Because otherwise, what would wake me up all night long?  The cats?  That’s so 2005.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Elena #

    The Share app doesn’t allow you to change the sound, but the G5 Mobile app does. So you could change your own sounds. Also, I’m assuming you meant you Follow people through the Follow app (not the Share app)? That also allows you to change the sounds.

    11/30/15; 11:29 am
    • Oh shit – seriously? I am doing that right now!! (And am embarrassed these things are not figured out by my brain. 🙂 ) Thank you for your help!

      11/30/15; 12:02 pm
      • Elena #

        I’m not even remotely a diabetes expert but I’m pretty good at technology. 😀

        11/30/15; 1:26 pm
  2. Gabrielle #

    One improvement on the phone app that I would love to see would be (optionally) showing your BG on the phone’s lock screen. Like in long professional meetings it is considered OK to power up your phone and look briefly at the time, but it is super rude to unlock it and start digging around.

    More alert sound options would be nice. Also an android app too would be a big improvement!

    I have the oldest iphone that will run the app (a 4s) and my battery life definitely got a little shorter with the app running all the time, but not too big a change at all. Very manageable.

    I had to buy the receiver even though I did not use it, and just after messing around with it I am so relived I never had to rely on that clunky thing. (No number buttons, yet we have to enter BG values all the time? What is it 1992?) I feel like I hopped on the CGM train at a the perfect time!

    11/30/15; 12:22 pm
    • Martha #

      That makes so much sense for results to be on the lock screen! I’m still waiting for my G5 but I’m already planning on using the receiver rather than my phone in any situations where I can’t or don’t want to explain why I’m always looking at my phone.

      11/30/15; 4:52 pm
  3. Rochelle #

    I’ve been wanting to ask you how you feel about not being able to use your Vibe as a cgm source anymore, because I’m in the same boat, and should be getting my G5 in the next week or so. I’m so used to just pressing that little top button on my pump and having the data right there, that I don’t know if it will drive me crazy, but it sounds like the transition hasn’t been too bad for you? At least I won’t have to dig in my boobs when wearing a dress to check my dexcom, ha! And now I want to go back to my Ping so I can have a remote 🙂 Thanks for the update….so helpful as always!

    11/30/15; 1:13 pm
  4. Leah #

    Is there a way to adjust the alarm so that it doesn’t go off multiple times between your low threshold (80 in my case), then 55, then back up to 80? This makes me crazy, and is a leading reason I overtreat my lows. I have the same problem with highs that bounce around my high threshold. I really want more autonomy with alarms.

    11/30/15; 7:44 pm
  5. Andrea #

    Kerri –
    How do the alarms work when your phone is set on silent? I thought I read somewhere that when the phone is on silent, so are the high/low alerts.

    In regards to the clarity program – it no longer shows yours insulin dosing amounts and there is no pretty excel document to extract either like the studio on the web had. I was using my dexcom heavily to report out the data that is required for me to get a pump and now have nothing. 🙁 However- the A1C estimate was 0.1 off! My Endo was impressed by the accurate prediction.

    11/30/15; 11:34 pm
  6. Judi #

    There is a device called a Halo you can get that will charge your phone and is small and very toteable, easily fitting in a pocket. You charge it up and it’s charge lasts a very long time. Comes with little cords for 30 pin and lightening pin iPhones, as well as the Dexcom charging hole. Personally mine came from QVC, but probably lots of places to get them. They are wonderful.

    12/1/15; 5:12 pm
  7. Claire Nelson #

    Hi Kerri- I work with a team of iOS developers and they all agree that force killing your open apps not only is not necessary to improve battery life, it may actually decrease it. It may take more battery life to always be re-opening apps (think of it like turning your car on and off instead of letting it idle for 5 min). The apps that will drain your battery are the ones either constantly polling for new information (ie background app refresh) or the ones who have constant access to your location. Apple wouldn’t design a product that in order to work efficiently the user has to do some daily tedious task like kill open apps.

    12/18/15; 10:00 am
  8. Brandy J. #

    Question for all you lovely folks – I am starting my daughter on the G5 this week. We’re getting an iPhone 4s from my sister to act as her reciever, so I can monitor her when she’s at school. Do I need to activate the 4s with a data plan and all that, or does it just have to be connected to wifi?

    07/18/16; 10:34 pm
    • Mine only needed Bluetooth enabled in order to receive the data from the G5, but to transmit up to the cloud it did need Wifi (not a data plan, though). I hope that helps!

      07/19/16; 8:46 am

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