I’ve been using the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor since April, and over the last few months, I’ve settled into a pattern with this new system. But there have been some hiccups alongside some victories. And that’s what this post is about, ya’ll.
THE INSPIRING: There’s no denying that not having to prick my finger is AMAZING. My fingertips feel terrific. They aren’t brown-spotted. They don’t turn white at the tips after I shower like they used to. They look normal. And I don’t have to lance my fingers several times a day. I LOVE THIS NO CALIBRATION FEATURE SO MUCH.
Also, the accuracy seems in line with my glucose meter (and the Freestyle Libre I have used here and there to crosscheck results). I’ve probably checked my blood sugar about four times per month since starting on the G6, and all but one of those checks have been within single points of one another.
The way that the G6 works with my Tandem t:slim X2 is downright amazing. The BasalIQ system (I wrote about that here) is a really good fit for where I’m at these days. My hypoglycemic events are truly minimized, even when exercising, chasing kids, sleeping (ha), etc. A huge win, and one that my A1C thanks me for.
(These plus moments don’t require a lot of works to describe their plus points. Don’t let the brevity of this section deter you. But yeah, let’s move on to things that aren’t as plus-ish.)
THE FRUSTRATING: There’s also no denying that the team at Dexcom had some trouble managing supply against the incredible demand for the G6. I had really frustrating customer service issues in 2018 for the first time since starting on a Dexcom back in 2006. Shipments weren’t received on time because of the supply issues with G6 (example: I placed an order for transmitters and sensors on November 14th and the order was completed, in full, on December 24th), and these shipment issues were compounded by communication issues between Dexcom and my insurance company, among other glitches. This issue isn’t going to make me switch to another CGM at the moment because I still think G6 is the best CGM technology available, by a longshot, but it’s irritating.
See also: we spend enough time fighting for these devices with insurance companies, so fighting the companies themselves for streamlined service is a punch in the nose.
I’m plagued by the recent itching issues, though. I’m not allergic to the G6 sensor adhesive, like I was with the G5 and G4 iterations of the system, but judging by my anecdotal experiences with the G6, the adhesive is not awesome. It doesn’t stay stuck. I apply the sensor to clean skin and follow all the suggested “press hard all the way around the sensor tape to activate the adhesive” etc sort of recommendations, but it’s not enough. On my arm, on my thigh, or on my abdomen, these sensors weep and peel and give up after around three days. Which means I’m using overlay tapes. And while overlay tapes are super effective at keeping things stuck, I’m breaking out in rashes from the tapes themselves. This arm site (pictured) is only five days old and has already gone through a Dexcom-provided overlay tape, a Pump Peelz patch, and a StayPut patch. All made my skin freak out to the point of needing to rip and replace the tape every other day.
My skin is done. Done. The last sensor, pulled out five days ago, still has a rash that looks like a sunburn around the edge. It burns when I’m in the shower. It itches like crazy. And the cream provided by the dermatologist hurts when applied. The best solution seems to slather it with that CeraVe ointment and hope for the best. I’m very itchy. And my hopes for good skin real estate are diminished every morning when I examine the previous sites and see how rotten my skin still looks. While this isn’t the fault of any device company, it’s unnerving for me to have my “best proposed care plan” derailed by my body’s inability to host the device without scratching it off in a frenzy while I sleep. (See also: I slept in my bathrobe last night in hopes of keeping my hands from peeling away the sensor while I slept.)
Where Things Stand Now: I have no plans of ditching my G6. It works too well, data-wise, and it works too well with my pump, low-prevention wise. The benefits outweigh the setbacks, at the moment. But my concern is that after another itchy winter of discomfort, will my skin be able to tolerate these devices 24/7? I remain itchy and unsure.