My Dexcom Seven Plus So Far

I started using my Dexcom on April 23rd, so it is seven weeks today that I started using it.  Overall, I love it!  Every once in awhile, I get some whacky readings, but for the most part, it is very accurate.  I find that it is more accurate than the Navigator was for me.  I was worried about going from 1 minute readings with the Navigator to 5 minute readings with the Dexcom but that has not been a problem for me.

I like the alarm settings on the Dexcom a lot better.  The high alarm can be set at 120.  With gastroparesis, the earlier I can get insulin working when my blood sugar starts going up the better.  I have my rapid rise & fall rates set at 2 mg/dl per minute as opposed to 3 mg/dl per minute.  I can get earlier notice when my BS starts going up or down.  The Dexcom has 3 directional arrows for each set – diagonal, single up or double up and the diagonal, single down or double down so those make it a lot easier to determine exactly how fast your BS is moving.

The alarms themselves are a bit of a problem at night.  Most nights, I do hear them but I have had a couple mornings that I woke up high because I apparently slept thru the alarms.  I had my reminder set for one hour but changed that to 30 minutes thinking they will at least go off more & I should hear them – wrong!  Twice, it beeped at me, I woke up, took some insulin & went back to sleep only to not get another alarm.  I thought maybe there was a problem beeping after the first time but tested that theory during the day and they do beep again.  The one night that I didn’t hear alarms, I had a lot of gaps in the data – there were 2 hours that I didn’t have any readings at all.  I am sure that is part of why I didn’t have any alarms.  I guess I am going to have to invest in the baby monitors to amplify the sounds and hopefully, that will work.  I also learned a very hard lesson last weekend – don’t eat something that will cause you to go high later when you are exhausted because you will sleep thru the alarms!

The one thing that was hard for me to get used to was keeping it near me.  I bought a spibelt (www.spibelt.com) and wear that so I can keep the Dexcom near me.  It is very comfortable and not your typical fanny pack.  It is made out of the same material that swimsuits are made out of.  It looks very small but stretches.  When I first took it out of the package it came in, I thought my Dexcom would never fit in that.  I ordered the diabetic one because it has a hole in it for pump tubing (my insurance company just approved my Animas).  I decided to order the solo pocket so I can have a separate pouch for the Dexcom once I start using the pump.

Last weekend, the community where I live held a bake sale to raise money to build a playground for the kids.  I somehow got drafted to be on the committee for that.  I didn’t want to have to take my purse with me, so stuck my Dexcom, insulin pens, some money & glucose tablets in my spibelt for the day.  I was able to take everything I needed and did not have to worry about someone walking off with my purse if I stuck it someplace.  I felt safe enough trusting the Dexcom to not take my meter with me (and that rarely happens!).

I joined the Dexcom users group at TuDiabetes – you can get a lot of good information there.  That link is:

(http://www.tudiabetes.org/group/dexcomusers).

You don’t have to join if you just want to read posts, but if you have questions, you need to join before you can ask them.  You also get notified when other people ask questions when you are a member (although, you can opt out of that feature).

I did learn several good tips there.  Towards the end of my first sensor, I started getting some whacky numbers.  I tried to calibrate it several times and the more I tried, the worse it got.  Several people there said that even though you are able to calibrate no matter what your BS is doing, you get better readings if you wait until your BS has been steady for at least 15 minutes.  They said that it is even better to go on 18 hours of old calibrations than to put a new calibration in when your BS is moving.  I started doing that and I am getting much better readings.  Someone else also suggested restarting your sensor to clear out your bad readings – I did that after I read about doing the calibrations when your BS is stable.

On the CWD board, someone that called Dexcom said that they called when they were getting some bad readings.  Dexcom told them to do 3 calibrations, 15 minutes apart.

I am also very impressed with Dexcom’s customer service.  I have had to call 3 times now.  About 2 weeks after starting the Dexcom, I called because I kept getting less time out of the charge.  I wasn’t even getting 48 hours.  Originally, I was putting insulin use & exercise in but stopped doing that.  When I called, they replaced the receiver for me.

After getting the new receiver, I called to find out how to merge the two receiver readings together.  I actually had three different receivers showing in the software because I did a one week trial.  Unfortunately, you are not able to do that.  However, the rep that I talked to said that she would send a message to the software people to suggest changing that.  I hope they do change that.

I called when I opened my second box of sensors because I was getting bad readings out of the first sensor in that box.  Before calling, I restarted the sensor.  That didn’t help so I did the 3 calibrations in 15 minutes thing.  To be clear here, my readings really weren’t that horrible but they were 20-some points off.  I would call Abbott about them being 50 points off and would always hear that was within the industry standard – I always felt like I needed to down a bottle of blood pressure meds before calling Abbott.  The person I talked to at Dexcom was very nice.  She said their protocol would be to have the person do the 3 calibrations every 15 minutes and I had already done that.  She said that I dealt with it long enough and she would replace the sensor.  Dexcom feels that as long as the readings are within 20%, they are OK.  I did not have to argue with her that the readings were not normal compared to what I was used to.

I have to confess that in the beginning, I really did not like the software but I have now changed my mind on that.  Being a bean counter, I do prefer actual numbers over the graphs.  On the Glucose Trend report, you can put your mouse over the little dots that represent sensor readings – it will display the time and a number for the BS reading.  It does the same if you enter insulin, carbs or exercise.  I like to look at the Hourly Trend report for overnight.  It will give me a standard deviation number for each hour, along with average, high & low for each number (in addition to a bunch of other stuff).  It also shows the number of readings so you can see if you lost connection (besides the yellow bar that represents a lost connection).

In the beginning, I liked the fact that the screen lights up & says low or high.  I thought that was a nice feature at night when you don’t have the lights on.  I have since learned that it is also a very nice feature while on the treadmill.  I stick my receiver on the treadmill and when it lights up, I will know if I am low or high without having to stop & press buttons.  If I am low, I obviously have to stop & treat.  If it is high, then I can keep going and try to go faster to bring down that high!

A couple times, my blood sugar was dropping very fast.  If you drop below 40, the Dexcom just says “low” and doesn’t display a number.  I have had that happen to me a couple times.  The good news is, because I was alerted before I hit the point the Dexcom said low, I already glucose working in my system so I did not pass out and did not stay low for very long.  I submitted this picture on TuDiabetes and it was selected for one of the featured photos.

Having the Dexcom has made a huge difference for me.  I don’t have to live in fear of passing out.  When my blood sugar is crashing fast, I know I need to be more aggressive with how I treat a low.  When I was first diagnosed 26 years ago, my doctor had to fight my insurance company to get my first meter.  Now, they get handed out like candy.   I hope the day comes that everyone is allowed to have a CGMS if they want one.
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