Why I Didn’t Buy a Dexcom

I had my monthly prenatal appointment with my Endocrinologist last week. We have seen each other once a month and traded e-mails once a week for eight months now, so we seem to sort of “get” each other now. My appointments are friendly and chatty. This month, he gave me a good ribbing for choosing not to purchase the Dexcom after my trial. He says I am the only person he’s ever met who decided that she didn’t really need it.

While he is right that I did choose not to purchase the Dexcom after my trial, his understanding of my reasons for doing so are a little off.

Let me start by saying that the device is impressive. I tested a Medtronic MiniMed CGMS several years ago when it was in trials. It was clunky, was not remote, and was not waterproof. You had to put the thing in a little waterproof shower pouch that you could hang around your neck in the shower. Really? You had to go to the doctor’s office to have the sensor inserted. To top it all off, the thing was testy. The first time I trialed it, it crapped out after just a day. The second time, the result were better, but you could only wear it for three days. Probably the worst part about the device was that it did not communicate any of its information to me, the patient. Instead, all of the information was stored in the device until the doctor downloaded it. So much for catching highs and lows.

Today’s CGMs are in another realm completely. The Dexcom sensor was really pretty simple to “install” and the user interface on the device itself, while basic, was relatively easy to figure out and was functional. The sensors are now remote, so I was not tethered to the device, and they’re also waterproof, so I could attend water aerobics and take a shower without worrying about a shower pouch. Perhaps most importantly, this new generation shares its information with me, so I have “real time” information about whether my BG is trending up or down, or is out of range. I’ve got to admit, that’s pretty helpful.

When I trialed the Dexcom, I managed to get over 14 days out of one sensor, although by the end, I was seeing a lot of ??? screens. The low and high warnings were a bit annoying in the beginning, especially when I was recovering from a low and it was STILL beeping at me. The lag-time was frustrating. But once I got the alarms set to the right levels (60 and 160 worked well for me,) this annoyance was somewhat tempered. Of course, the fact that it caught untold numbers of pending highs and lows during the trial is not lost on me. My graphs and charts from the second week, once I got used to the thing, were amazing.

So why didn’t I buy? It basically comes down to a sort of psychological burden. I really felt like the thing just put too much of my focus on this damn disease. Before the Dexcom, I was already testing 16 times a day. Now I had to do even more finger sticks either to calibrate, or because Dexcom thought I was high or low and I needed to confirm. It was like the thing was whispering in my ear all day, “Hey you … you’re diabetic. Don’t forget.”

I’m also really hung up on the idea of yet another hole in my skin. I don’t like wearing all of these devices on my body. When the pros outweigh the cons, I’m willing to do it, but otherwise, I’d like to get away from sensors and infusion sites. If they ever figure out how to put the two together into one site, then I would be really interested.

The device is big and cumbersome, too. It did not fit in most of my pants pockets, and the clip was worthless. The size and shape were a constant reminder … when the darn thing popped out of my pocket in the bathroom … when I would leave it on my desk at work during a meeting … when it took up precious real estate on my nightstand where it was jockeying for position with my tester and my juice boxes and my box of Dots.

In the end, I looked at my current diabetes regime, the fact that my A1C’s have been amazing throughout my pregnancy, that my baby is healthy, and that my non-pregnant A1C typically hovers in the 6.0 range, and I decided that the slight improvement in my control was just not worth the psychological pressure.

The day I returned the device to the sales rep, I caught a low in the 20’s only because I tested. I didn’t feel it. I wondered if I should have bought the Dexcom. I still wonder sometimes. And maybe I will change my mind one day, when my A1Cs are not as good, or the lows and highs are more frequent. But diabetes, and life in general, is all about balance. We need to find a way to manage this disease while staying mentally healthy, too. And the best way to do that is different for every one of us. For now, I think this is the best decision for me.

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12 Comments on “Why I Didn’t Buy a Dexcom”

  1. Kathy Says:

    It’s different for everyone, and as a non-pumper I hear you on the whole “do I really need another reminder” issue. I had a little curve just getting used to having a medical device on me 24/7. Hopefully in the future they’ll get smaller, more accurate and less obtrusive.

    Happy weekend!

  2. Kelly Booth Says:

    I went with getting a Dexcom, but I agree with you that life is about finding the right balance. I understand why you chose not to get one. Congratulations on the pregnancy!

  3. Jenny Says:

    So well said! As a pump user who also has excellent A1C levels with no CGMS use, I agree 100%. I just dont need it and the hassle of it seems overwhelming.

  4. Lorraine Says:

    Caleb has been using the DexCom for about nine months, and within that time there have been a couple of periods when he did not use it. It was freeing to an extent and I can completely relate to your reasoning for not pursuing it.
    Even so, overall we have both become accustomed to it and I’m glad we have the tool in our arsenal. It is particularly helpful when he is at school and when he is playing baseball. It takes a tremendous amount of stress out of the overall diabetes experience for us.
    All that said, it will be great to see further improvements in these products to take some of the added burden off that they currently carry.

  5. Saffy Says:

    I’m with you on this one too 😉 I wore one for a while along with the pump and felt like a Diabetes pack mule :p Besides… your control IS amazing. *worshipping at your feet* 🙂

  6. Mom Says:

    As a diabetic for over 48 years and the mother of a diabetic, it is so wonderful to hear about all the new advances in treating this disease. The best news is hearing how well controlled you all are.

    As my daughter knows, when I was diagnosed, we didn’t even have a fast acting insulin, testers or H1C’s to track our control. It is so important for non diabetics to understand that being a diabetic is a second job and the ultimate in multi-tasking.

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences.

    Grandmother of Baby No Name

  7. Jacquie Says:

    I think about this a lot. Sometimes I feel like I have too much information being thrown at me. Yes, it makes it easier in some ways, but it’s also harder in other ways. When you’re constantly being inundated with information, it’s hard to feel like you can ever catch a break.

  8. Kaitake Says:

    I am looking at doing a trial with a CGMs loaned from my local hospital. I have never worn a pump or CGM before, so it will be an experiment for me, just to try and help my doctors figure out what is going on.

    It’s interesting to see that the Minimed one doesn’t give you the data… I will have to hope the hopital has a dexcom one I guess!

  9. Saffy Says:

    To Nici’s mom…
    I sense some pretty awesome guest blogs coming our way while Nici’s busy getting life organised with Baby NN? I bet you have some great stories to tell 🙂

    Nici – still hanging in there??

  10. brigdon Says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My CGM is due to arrive tomorrow in the mail. I’m going to give it a try for a while while the Hubby and I are TTC…but I can totally relate to not wanting to wear another thing. Of course…my control is NOT the greatest right now and hopefully this will push me in the right direction!

  11. karend1 Says:

    I tried the MM cgm for 6 months, and I was not a fan.

    Seeing a high staring you in the face that won’t go down is still a high, and constantly seeing it was overwhelming to me. It also was not comfortable to wear to me.

    I gave up on it as I test a lot and I did not like testing to see if the CGM was correct or not.

  12. Nix Says:

    Really interesting to hear your views. I’m from the UK and our health service doesn’t provide continuous monitors or insulin pumps yet (hopefully we will have the choice eventually). I’m considering buying a glucose monitor as I’m hoping to conceive and know I’ll be constantly worried about not being aware of being high or low. But I also get that information overload can be it’s own burden.
    Seems like there’s a great community here 🙂

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