As you may know I have had the Dexcom G4 CGM since November. In the last 3 months I have learned an awful lot about it that may prove useful to other PWD. These are things I really wish someone had said in the beginning to not only make me feel more comfortable with the technology but with the information overload that can sometimes be overwhelming. So in no particular order here is what I have learned. Please feel free to pass some or all of it along to others:
1. Before you place a sensor anywhere, think about how you move that particular part of your body and also how much you move it. Where does the car seatbelt hit and how do you sleep at night ? Is that location going to be comfortable for a week or longer ? Although the user manual says place the sensor horizontally on your abdomen I personally have worn my sensor vertically on my arm, thigh and "love handles" and horizontally on my stomach and thigh. The most comfortable location I have found for me was horizontally on my upper thigh and that sensor also lasted for 17 days with accurate readings throughout. There are a bunch of really good YouTube sensor insertion videos. A google search will find them for you.
2. If you put the sensor in a place that is uncomfortable or you can't sleep with it take the thing off. I made that mistake once and though I regret doing it, I regret more that I spent a night in pain not being able to sleep. While the sensors are expensive, resenting them is even more costly in the long run. And fortunately I have routinely managed to get more than 7 days out of a sensor so the one that I had to throw out because of poor placement was not costly in that regard.
3. At the beginning of a sensor session my readings have been very erratic so I do not make insulin dose decisions based on the Dex at least initially. I set my alerts very high and very low the first day with a sensor. There is nothing worse than being wakened by a buzzing receiver indicating a low or high when a fingerstick (fs) is normal. I also put the receiver under my pillow. It has never failed to awaken me when it vibrates, but it allows my husband to continue sleeping uninterrupted.
4. When you look at the receiver and your blood sugar is climbing or plummeting, DON'T FREAK OUT. Eventually the arrow will stop going up or down and settle straight ahead. The more stress you put on a number the higher your blood sugar is likely to go. If it is plummeting have some juice, if it is rocketing skyward, do a fs and take a correction dose.
5. Perfection IS NOT ATTAINABLE. I say this as an OCD perfectionist. Since I accepted this it has become far easier to just see the improvements over time and appreciate how the hard work pays off in the long run. I no longer aim for perfect, I just now aim for better. The Dexcom studio software is great for comparative analysis. Just look for progress not perfection.
6. If you have a problem with the sensor, receiver, transmitter call Dexcom tech support. ALWAYS USE THE CALL BACK OPTION. There is nothing worse than sitting on hold for 45 minutes. When they give you the call back option, take it.
7. If you swim for exercise like I do, there is only one sensor location that works intermittently in the pool and that is on the arm. If the sensor is anywhere else be prepared to "lose signal" for the duration of the swim. I usually "carb up" before with a snack of some kind and check before and after.
8. The sensor takes a very long time to recover from a low which makes treating a low and not over doing it a bit problematic. The G4 has only given me a false "low" once so the remaining 4 or 5% of the time it says I am low, a fs has confirmed it. I now treat lows the same way I did previously, but I generally recheck after 15 minutes and recalibrate the Dexcom because it is always still low.
9. I always use some type of auxiliary tape to secure the sensor. The tape that has worked the best for me is called opsite flexifix. I have never had a sensor peel up or pull away, but some people have reported that. The sensor that lasted 17 days was worn in the pool for at least 8 hours during that time and did not peel at all. I trimmed and replaced the opsite tape a few times over the 17 days.