Revisiting the Dexcom G5 CGM, Four Months Later

I’ve been using the Dexcom G5 CGM for around four months now, and I thought it might be a good opportunity to revisit some of my thoughts on the system now that it’s very much a part of my diabetes kit.

Application: Contrary to popular opinion, I actually like manually inserting the needle via the plunger. Insertion devices tend to bruise my body more easily and don’t leave me feeling confident that the insertion has been a success. The yet to be released G6 iteration will have an insertion device, and I’m not too sure that’s a big selling point for me.

Placement: Like many in the DOC, I love wearing my sensor on my upper arm. It’s out of the way, I can’t see it when I look down at my body and it gives me more real estate for placement of pump sites.

I have personally found the most effective placement to be with the plunger pointing upwards in the direction of my shoulder. I placed one in the opposite direction some weeks ago, and my sensor didn’t last much longer than a week there.

Adhesive: The sensors stick really well on the arms. I can normally go for two weeks before having to apply a bit of reinforcement, such as a Rockadex patch. Although, I don’t do a lot of dedicated exercise or work up a sweat very often…

Sensor life: I’m currently getting three weeks out of a sensor. The first two weeks yield solid results. However, the third week is often a struggle. The readings can get a bit jumpy, movements accentuated, and often those three question marks pop up and I temporarily lose access to blood glucose data.

Last week, my sensor was into week three and I was beginning to experience some really unreliable behaviour. I decided to restart it, clearing the system of any calibrations that may have been sub-optimal. I also drank a few glasses of water, and that has given me my strongest finish to a sensor so far.

Calibration: I prefer to calibrate with clean hands. But I also can’t be bothered washing my hands before I check my blood sugar. Especially first thing in the morning, when the coffee machine is calling me. Which leads to me putting off calibrating. Or checking my blood sugar, second guessing the result because I didn’t wash my hands before checking, and then washing my hands and checking again. For the record, my trusty AccuChek Guide produces almost identical results each time.

I stick to twice a day, ideally when I wake up and just before dinner. But otherwise generally before a meal when my blood sugar is steady and there’s not a lot of bolus insulin on board.

Accuracy: Superb. Just stick to twice daily calibrations and don’t over calibrate. For more on the accuracy, check out my last Dexcom post.

Integration with my t:slim pump: It took me a while until I finally wanted blood sugars on my pump screen. In the beginning when I was still getting used to the system, it was just too much. I also seemed to integrate them at the worst of times, like in week 3 when my sensor was beginning to crap out or a few days before my exam. The only way to take them off is to shut down the pump and then power it back on.

One thing I do not like is having my phone on me all the time for access to my BGs or just to silence an alarm. I only started running BGs on my t:slim for good just before Christmas, and so far I’m loving it for the ability to be phone free.

Affordability: I’m using a rebatteried transmitter obtained through the Diabatteries Down Under community on Facebook. This is not warranted by the manufacturer and is essentially a ‘DIY’ solution that works just as well. This means that the ongoing cost of my system is essentially just the sensors.

In conclusion: Anything that lets me do less while managing my diabetes is a good thing. Having blood glucose readings at the glance of my phone has definitely improved the quality of my life. I do find it far easier to pick up on trends and changes that I need to make than I ever did on finger pricks. I feel as though I have a clearer picture of exactly where my diabetes is at.

I acknowledge just how privileged I am in being able to access this system.

At this point in time, the G5 is meeting my needs perfectly as I continue to manage my diabetes, and I really don’t want anything more from it.

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