Dexcom trial part 2: the highs and the lows

This Dexcom trial has been a roller coaster. Sometimes it is spot on, which is awesome, and sometimes it is WAY off, which drives me absolutely bonkers.

On the plus side, the other night it woke me up four times to warn me of low blood sugar and while I wasn’t always as low as it said I was, I was dropping. So it helped me  treat before I became a shaking, sweating, irrational mess. That is a huge bonus. Two nights ago, it woke me from a deep sleep when I was 27. That’s pretty scary … I was 27 and still snoozing away.

My husband commented that he liked that it was catching the lows before they became super-low, and that maybe the extra, inaccurate alerts were worth it because at least it is also catching the real lows. Although the alert is sometimes delayed, I don’t think I’ve had a low that it didn’t catch.

On the negative side, I have noticed that the trending arrows disappear with disappointing regularity. These are probably the best part of the system, and when they’re not there, I kind of wonder whether the device is worth all of the trouble. In addition, the device often gives me the ??? symbol overnight, sometimes for several hours at a time. This symbol means that the sensor can’t read my glucose at the time. The rep tells me that this happens due to some sort of weirdness with my biology … hormones or something are changing the interstitial fluid. This it a real bummer as I am finding that the alerts at night are another of the biggest assets of the device.

I put the sensor in my arm and, while the adhesive is really hanging on, the site is sometimes sore or irritated, especially if I bump it or roll over on it in bed. I was surprised to find that the adhesive is still super-sticky even after an hour in the pool on Saturday. I am actually a little apprehensive about removing this thing given the strong hold of the adhesive and the irritation at the site. I really dislike having another hole in my skin, too. I sure wish they could figure out a way to put the sensor and the infusion site all in one hole.

Did you know that you can’t take Tylenol when you use the Dexcom? If you take it, the device can’t read your glucose. Instead, it just gives you a 400 mg/dL reading until the Tylenol works its way out of your system (usually about 3 hours.) Tylenol is just about the only thing I can take for the headaches and achiness that come along with pregnancy, so this is also a pretty big disappointment.

Today is day seven of my trial and the Dexcom rep tells me that the sensor will start to fail tomorrow. After it completely peters out, I will try to restart it and see if I can’t get another couple of days out of it. She says most people get 10-14 days out of one sensor.

Also, I wanted to thank all of you who commented on my last Dexcom post. I got some good ideas from you, including changing the high and low alerts. Right now I am using 180 for high and 70 for low. I can see how playing with these from day to day or maybe changing them for overnight could be really beneficial.

Needless to say, I am still on the fence about actually purchasing a CGM. It’s a lot of money, and the hassles are real. But are the improvements to my quality of life, to my health, and to my baby’s health large enough to outweigh the cons?

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