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Posts from the ‘Dexcom’ Category

Enjoy the Silence. Or Not So Much.

[Disclosure about my relationship with Dexcom]

During the first trimester of this pregnancy, lows were intense and weirdly symptomatic; a nice contrast from the hypoglycemia unawareness that’s crept in over the last five or six years.  (I ended up stashing a jar of jellybeans in the dining room hutch, only to have to move it into direct line of sight in the kitchen in efforts to keep up with the persistent low blood sugars of those first few weeks.)  As this pregnancy has moved forward, the lows have become slightly more predictable and the hypo-unawareness has returned, making the Dexcom BEEPS! and BLARGHS! more necessary.

Until that week when I noticed, “Hey, the alarms have been quieter.”  And then I realized, “Hey, the alarms aren’t working.”  Because overnight, my G4 receiver had been rendered mute.

When I received the Dexcom recall notice several months ago, it was very early February, and I was still using the G5 transmitter.  At the time, the only people who knew I was pregnant were my family and my medical team, but I knew, and I was stalking blood sugars with vigor (and a side of panic).  My endocrinologist, not a fan of the data output from the G5 application, asked if I would consider using the G4 for the remainder of my pregnancy.  Wanting her to check the “compliant” box on my chart (there’s a first time for everything), I switched back to the G4 the following week and have been on it since.

And for months, my G4 receiver was fine.  Alarmed all the damn time, vibrating and buzzing from my bedside table or my purse and alerting me to the changing needs of my baby-hosting body.  And then, all of a sudden, the speaker went full garbage, not working at all.  Only a vibration came from the receiver, making my phone* the best laid plan for alerting me audibly.

It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and saw the empty raisin box and the discarded juice box that I realized the night before wasn’t very comfortable.  And that I didn’t wake up because of alarms, but instead because of aggressive baby kicks.  I couldn’t ride out the rest of this pregnancy without replacing the receiver, because I was NOT waking up even with the phone alarms.  I needed high octane, receiver-in-a-glass-with-some-coins sort of jolting.  I needed to connect the alarms to Siah, encouraging her to walk across my face when I was low.  Or similar.

I needed the receiver to actually WORK PROPERLY.

So I went to the website – Dexcom has a special page set up for this particular issue.  There’s also a special hotline number to call: (844) 607-8398.  After a quick exchange with the woman on the phone, she asked me to confirm that my alarms weren’t working by doing the following:

  • press the center button on your receiver to access the Main Menu
  • scroll down to Profiles
  • select Profiles
  • scroll down to Try It
  • select Try It
  • scroll down to 55 Fixed Low
  • select 55 Fixed Low
  • verify that you receive vibrations first (vibratory portion of alarm), followed by beeps (audible portion of alarm).

And once we confirmed the alarm absence, a new receiver was scheduled to be shipped out.  Should be arriving in the next few days, in time for me to finish up this pregnancy as a G4 user (to make my doctor happy) and hopefully by staying in my threshold lines (to make my fetus happy).

If your G4 receiver suddenly craps out, sound-wise, call the hotline number and have a new one sent out.  Alarms that won’t alarm are alarming.

(* I follow myself on the Dexcom Follow app, along with one other person.  Yes, redundant.  In response to the dead receiver speaker, I changed the alarm settings on my phone so that I’d be alerted for highs and lows.  This worked, in theory, except when my phone was on silent or in the other room.)


As this pregnancy continues on, so does the rapid rounding-out of my abdomen (today’s issue = not being able to zip my jacket without over-taxing the zipper). Feeling quite like Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Pluses to this expansion are that a. the pregnancy is progressing on schedule and b. the real estate options for my pump site and Dexcom sensor are literally broadening.  Which is useful, since my adhesive rash is in full rawr mode.

In response to rashes that are taking weeks to heal properly (they aren’t oozing or anything gross, but a particularly cold day or a too-hot shower will make the area where the sensor and any tape was get madly scaly, red, and itchy), I’ve needed to really mix up where my diabetes devices are applied.  I put a sensor on my lower left-side abdomen for the first time in almost a decade and it hurt like hell going in but did not leave a residual rash when I removed it.

New skin holds up better than my favored spots, but with only seven days of wear and an aversion to abdomen sites, it’s getting tricky.  At the Friends for Life Falls Church conference in DC this past weekend, there was discussion in several groups about rash strategies, but I can’t recall everything that everyone said.  (If you have tips on dealing with skin irritation, please share them!)

I am seeing a dermatologist again this week to see if they can offer any relief/advice/assistance, so there is hope.  For now, Toughpads, DermaSarra lotion, and site rotation are my best defense.  Because hope remains an itch I refuse to scratch … especially when there are so many other bits of me that need scritch-scratching.

Small Victories.

My only resolution for 2016 was to write more. Not necessarily here on my website, but wherever the words seem to come most comfortably. I have a few fiction ideas I’m fleshing out here at home, but blogging has always served as a way to unknot some of the thoughts in my head, mostly centered around my disease. Once my disease angst is unknotted (with blogging being the mental equivalent of gently tapping a fork against a knotted necklace chain until it goes slack and gives up), my mind feels better about diverting thoughts to things that are More Fun.

The problem with blogging is that it’s a public forum. Which means that I sometimes write with readers, or perceptions, or assumed judgments in mind. Sharing while simultaneously panicking doesn’t make for good writing, and more importantly, it takes away from the whole therapeutic/fun aspect of blogging. SO. I’m trying to blog like no one’s reading. Which means there may be more fractured sentences. And shit that doesn’t make the most sense. And probably less-than-lovely language, but oh well.

[ clumsy segue ]

I’ve been making use of Dexcom Clarity over the last few weeks and while it’s humbling to see my blood sugar graphs plotted out in full color folios, but there is a certain power to logging and reviewing my blood sugars.  (Huge sigh here because I make progress when I fastidiously review my blood sugars, which means I should continue to review my blood sugars, which I hate because is a tedious pain in the ass.  That’s kind of a diabetes theme:  tedious pain in the ass.)

Applications that actually DO SOMETHING USEFUL and don’t require extra work are my favorites, like the One Touch Reveal app that my Verio Sync uses and the Dexcom Clarity one.  Checking my blood sugar is mildly painful; reviewing data compilations should not be.

My numbers are improving, and with them, my mood.

This A1C is not entirely accurate (as it changes every few days when I review the PDF downloaded from Dexcom Clarity), but it’s very close to where my lab work pinned me, so I’ll fucking take it.

Also bringing much joy this week? These Tweets:

Unrelated to anything:  I found this sleeve smiling at me the other day:

And now it’s smiling at you.

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.


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