Dex to the rescue!

I don’t want to brag about having this magical machine, but this device changed my life! If you are lucky enough to get one, I really recommend it. In my case, I have the Dexcom G4. I bought this one because the latest version, the G5, was still not available in my country. The G5 has been now available for around 4 months now, but since my insurance company would not cover a CGM (they say that it is not essential but I totally disagree with that), it is a bit hard for me to change it.  However, I am grateful to have this amazing gadget, even if it’s not the latest version. Sometimes I feel like I am buying a new phone and am trying to get the latest update out there when the Iphone I have is perfectly fine!

Why did I get a Dexcom? Well in my case the reason is simple: I wasn’t feeling my lows anymore and I started to be worried and scared. Before getting it, I asked my endo what was happening to me. He told me that it was perfectly normal to stop feeling the lows, or early symptoms of lows, when you’ve had diabetes for a long time. I am not going to go into the specific scientific facts because to be honest, I don’t even remember them, but the thing that attracted my attention is that my brain got so used to getting the low symptoms that it doesn’t send the same signals as before to my body. Therefore, sometimes I’m at 3.5 mmol/L and I don’t even feel it. It started around 2 years ago because I was working out a lot, especially during the evening, and I was having a lot of lows afterwards, and mostly at night. I was trying to adapt my insulin dosage towards my exercise, but it took some time and I was still having a lot of hypos. That is when I started to feel them less than before. Also, during that time, I was living alone for a semester at university so it’s not surprising that I was realllly worried about going to bed, sitting down in my classes and driving back home for 2 hours every weekend. I literally had OCD and was checking my BG level every half hour. It started to become overwhelming, and let’s not forget about all the other feelings that a daily routine with diabetes can cause. Then one day, I was on Instagram and I see this device: a CGM. It was like a gift from the sky. I didn’t know what it was, my doctors never talked to me about it. So at first, I thought: what is this weird little thing plugged in the skin? Like every normal human being on this planet, I googled it. The result: a machine that CONTINUOUSLY tells you your blood sugar. From that moment, I knew I needed that!

Other than warning me about lows, this machine is wonderful because it can also help me avoid getting highs. The little arrows tell you where the BG level is heading: is it steady ? getting high or low ? How fast ? I am not going to lie, the arrows can stress me out more than they should when I see two arrows during a low, or even when it’s going high, so that is why it is important to double check with your meter because the Dexcom can be wrong since it has a 5 minute delay.

This takes me to my last point. Like any other product, there are pros and cons about it. The Dex 4 and 5 work the same way so everything that I mentioned above applies to the Dexcom 5 as well. However, for this point, I don’t know if it is applicable for the Dex 5 so I don’t want to mislead you, but talking from a personal point of view, the Dexcom 4 can’t be reliable at some points, and it is important to say that it is only at some points. You need to calibrate it a couple of times a day, or else it will not tell you your exact BG levels. Meters always indicate a more precise level since it analyzes the blood. The Dex analyses data but from the skin, so it is normal to be less accurate. I normally check my blood sugar before every meal and calibrate it. I said normally because I can get very lazy, especially when I’m eating out and I don’t want to check it because the food is already here! I also noticed that checking it before sleeping tends to give me better results in the morning, but even if I do so, the morning comparison is always a bit off since I haven’t calibrated it all night. In my opinion, this is the major disadvantage about the Dexcom.

Before finishing this article, I would just like to share with the users, or future users, some helpful tips:

  • First of all, be careful when you take nonprescription medicines, such as Tylenol, because it tends to mess up the readings. I’ve done it a lot of times before and all you have to do is to calibrate it or check you blood sugar more often than usual, that's all!
  • Another tip is the insertion site. From my personal experience, the hip or stomach is the most accurate spot. I have tried it on my leg and it has not been accurate at all. Every person is different and a lot of people say that their leg is their favorite spot, but it wasn’t the case for me. My next trial will be on my arm; I will let you know how this goes!
  • The last tip I can give you, and even though I don’t think you are going to use it a lot, is when going in a Jacuzzi. When buying the product, the salesperson clearly said to me that I couldn’t go in a Jacuzzi with it. I was actually avoiding them at first, even when I was with my friends and they were all relaxing in it. I thought: it was either this or I take it off and put another one afterwards, which was useless. I then talked to a nurse that I’ve met, who is also a diabetic, and she told me that she goes in Jacuzzis without any problem, buuuut the sensor can lose its reliability because of the heat so she needs to check her blood sugar more often afterwards. I listened to her and am now going stress-free into a warm relaxing Jacuzzi whenever I want. I only have to be more careful about my blood sugar readings, but it is totally worth it!

- Judy