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My son (19 years old, dx 7 years ago) is going to start using a Dexcom seven plus, this will be his first experience of CGM. We are in Scotland so the only option is to self fund so it will be on an occasional basis due to cost. Just wondering if you can give me any practical tips or advice to get the most out of it? I am aware on CGM limitations, but hope this will give us a better insight into his diabetes and hopefully enable him to gain better control in the future.
my tips to get the most out of it..
Put SkinTac on and let it fully dry before putting a sensor on, do not wipe with alcohol before putting on the skin tac (it has alcohol in it).
do your first calibration when you think your blood sugar is stable (somewhere between 80 and 150 and not moving fast).
do your additional calibrations under the same state (80-150 and stable). If it is asking for a calibration and you aren't stable, do not do it, wait till you get under control and to a stable place.
When the sensor "expires", start it again. Some people get as much as three weeks out of one sensor before it starts to not track with your changing values or the adhesive pulls off. It is often more accurate in the second week.
A CGM does its readings on intersticial fluid, not blood. don't dose insulin based on any CGM, you still need to do the finger stick and do the math. The CGM is valuable for things like detecting low's, detecting highs earlier, seeing those pesky trends in the middle of the night, tweaking your dose.
Tylenol will make the sensor read high for a number of hours. It also seems to greatly reduce the usable life of the sensor even after it returns to "normal". Avoid products that contain Tylenol.
If you mess up on the calibration and put a number in when you are moving too fast or too high or low, the easiest way to get back on track is to stop the sensor and start it again, wait the two hours and put a good number in.
I am not a doctor, just an end user, your mileage may vary...
But, trust me on the SkinTac...
The Seven Plus is being replaced by the G4 which costs about the same and is a significant improvement. Available in UK from Advanced Therapeutics. I've been using one since last July. The transmitter and receiver have limited lifespan whether you're using them or not so it would be useful for your son to get as much information from it as possible before one or the other expires as they're pretty expensive to replace. The sensors seem to last between 2 and 3 weeks each with some lasting longer, but he will probably need Mefix or similar (adhesive tape) to hold the sensor in position after the first week or so.
Agree with the suggestion to get the G4 instead of the 7+. The biggest benefit from the Dex is being able to see trends in blood glucose. If your son was just fingersticking before, it is an eye-opener to see the graphic changes in blood glucose following meals and insulin injections. You can learn an awful lot about your body's reaction to different foods and insulin doses. Those learnings can be helpful even if you cannot afford (financially) to have a GCM in place on a continual basis.
As you are aware, GCMs aren't perfect, but they are one more "tool" in the effort to moderate blood glucose. I am 48 and was diagnosed 33 years ago and I am always appreciative of innovations and improvements in this area. When I first was diagnosed, I'd test urine once or twice a day...thankfully we've come a long way since then.
Good luck to you and your son.
Many thanks Mark, English Lady and Kevin for replying to me. We are going to give it a go over the next couple of days. Hoping we will learn from the trends.