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.