Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Let's Talk About Dex, Baby.

Let's talk about you and me.
Let's talk about all the good readings and the bad alarms
That may be;
Let's talk abooouuut Dex!
(apologies to Salt 'n' Pepa, who are arguably still the best girl hip-hop act ever.)

So a few posts ago, I asked you, the readers, if you had any questions about the DexCom Seven, since my 14 Days of Dex are coming to an end. I got a few, so let's hit those before I start talking.

K2 asks: "I tried one last year & had and allergic reaction to the waterproof covering. How's that working for u?"

The newest DexCom sensors don't require the shower patches anymore, which will surely make you say "Hooray!" It proved no different than showering with a pump infusion set attached. Also, I have been wearing the same sensor for nearly 2 weeks, and only just now are the outer edges of the adhesive coming up. I'm sure the experience varies from person to person. Personal info time: I only shower about every other day. I don't leave the house every day, so sometimes it seems pointless to me if I don't smell weird/feel sweaty or grimy. I was given some patches in case the thing starts coming off, but I haven't had any difficulty. The only problem about showering with the DexCom is that you don't really get all of your numbers if you leave the receiver too far from where you're standing. For me, that was 3 or 4 feet away on the back of the toilet.

She also asks: "Do u hear the alarm when your sleeping, or do u sleep right through it?"

I am not a terribly heavy sleeper, but I am by no means a light sleeper. I had no problem waking up when the thing started beeping. Also, since you need to keep the receiver close by, it seems pretty easy to hear when it makes noise. The vibrations themselves are pretty loud and usually made enough noise to get me up. The beeps are rather obnoxious, but not ear-splitting. I think for the average person, you'll have no problems waking up to your alarm. The beeping even woke Matt up, and he's typically down for the count once he's sound asleep.

Then I had 3 questions from Jen. The first one was: "I'd like to know how you feel about wearing the sensor. Is the size too big? How well does it stick? Does it seem bulky? Does it bounce around?"

At first, I thought the sensor would be too big and somewhat cumbersome, but where I have my site is a little off to the side of where I normally wear my insulin pump infusion sets. I don't feel like it's been obstructed by anything, though I did whack it on the edge of a table at the diner, and that really stung--kind of felt a lot like a bee sting, actually. In terms of bulk, I don't think it's that much thicker than one of MiniMed's QuickSet infusion sets. If you haven't used a pump, I don't really know what to compare it to. The sensor/transmitter combo, as it sits on your skin, is probably only about an inch long, and I'd say a quarter-inch thick or less. I talked about sticking up above, but it doesn't seem bulky to me. I'm not sure if it's because it's not terribly bulky, or because I'm used to having bits of plastic taped to myself constantly. As for bouncing, the DexCom is solid as a rock. The adhesive goes all the way around, so unlike a MiniLink transmitter, it has nowhere to go. I think it would be a "solid" choice (ha ha!) for someone wanting to wear a CGMS while involved in physical activity.

"I'd also like to know how you feel the numbers compare to your finger stick readings. In other words, how accurate is it?"

The DexCom seems very accurate at tracking trends. If you're on the rise or fall, it's going to provide you with great information. If you want to get an idea of how fast food without a bolus will affect you, or how fast excercise drops you, or just what the heck your body is doing throughout the course of the day, this is a great tool. However, it's true what you frequently read--this is not yet ready to be a replacement for your traditional fingerstick test. I will be excited when they achieve that level of accuracy! For example, yesterday, I was running a basal test. The DexCom, even after a calibration, had me running steadily around 150-160. A test on my OneTouch Ultra 2 revealed that my actual glucose was 120. Two hours later, a similar situation. Last week, I had about half a day where my DexCom and meter readings were only 2 points apart. Then I had a day where my blood sugar seemed to be holding steady, then my DexCom produced 2 readings in a row of 375, then it went back to the previous pattern. From what I've heard, accuracy can vary between individuals!

"Have you used the software? What's it like?"

Unfortunately, I have not. This is just a loaner from Gary, my favorite CDE evarrr. We're doing a big ol' data dump on Thursday, so I haven't really been able to play around with things myself. The 14 Days of Dex has pretty much been an info-gathering mission.

Here is my biggest complaint about the DexCom--I feel like the whole process between my transmitter and receiver is somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes my results look like a line, whether it's straight or sine-wave-shaped, but sometimes they look like a squiggle. Worse, sometimes they look like a broken squiggle. If I go to my nine-hour view screen right now, there is literally something that looks like a connect-the-dots pentagon. I have overnights that look like a thick, fuzzy caterpillar. Why? I can't tell you. I don't honestly believe my BS numbers are going up-and-down-and-up-and-down-and-up again, but it's possible. Maybe it's just this particular receiver. I feel like sometimes it is missing every other reading during the night, no matter where I stick the receiver.

I feel like I could duct-tape the receiver over my transmitter, and it still wouldn't hit all the results. For example, my front jeans pocket is less than a foot from my sensor site on my abs, and it still missed a bunch of readings this afternoon.

Make sure you have a lot of test strips when you use your DexCom. The calibrations can get kind of frustrating, plus you need to keep testing your sugar to see where you actually are. I was worried about my strips and my current money situation, so sadly, I must say I really could have tested a lot more.

All in all, though, I'm really glad I gave CGMS a try. As usual, I don't think I've been a perfect patient, but it has helped me see how fast my blood glucose can rocket up there after some fries or a dessert. It has helped me to see that yes, I probably really DO need to be on all this insulin, and it's not something I'm just screwing up by not paying enough attention to myself. Seeing this info makes me think: I do need to lose weight, I need to get back on the Symlin, I need to maybe consider Metformin if I'm going to be this insulin-resistant. There's a long road ahead of me to a great A1C, but now I feel like I'm getting closer to finding a map.

I still have 2 more days left. I'll probably miss the DexCom when it's gone.

Unrelated news--Didn't get a job I thought I was a shoo-in for, but then again, I now have a really awesome job interview coming up on Thursday! Yes!


  1. I'm on metformin... I think it has helped, but I'm not sure. I wasn't taking all that much insulin, just having trouble getting it to work how it's supposed to (slow absorption, erratic, blood sugars going NUTS if I skipped exercising a ton for more than a day). But I'm not even sure now, I've been on it for over 2 years now. I think it changed my appetite and how I maintain/gain/lose weight. And to be honest: also made more (and stinkier) farts.

    Good luck with your Thursday interview!!

  2. Hannah -
    First: THXS for answering my questions. I'm happy 2 hear that the Dex no longer requires the shower covering sticky stuff. I had a red target on my belly for weeks after wearing one of those icky shower covers.
    I must heavy sleeper - I slept through 1/2 my alarms.

    Second: I LOVE SALT N PEPA!
    "Yo, yo, yo, yo baby!"

  3. Hannah -
    I've tagged u.
    It's a good writing exercise.
    Please forgive me!

    6 word memoir.
    You know the one, where you
    1) Write your own six word memoir
    2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want
    3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
    4) Tag at least five more blogs with links; and
    5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!


Remember to use your commenting powers for good, not evil. Excelsior!