{Diabetes Management} Thoughts on the Continuous Glucose Monitor (Part 2)

by Leighann on October 15, 2012

Last week I told you about trying out the Medtronic continuous glucose monitor and mySentry. We tried it out for a couple of months and in the end sent it back for several reasons including the harpoon of a needle that terrified Q and the fact that it isn’t compatible with their stand alone CGM, but only with their tubed insulin pump. (Medtronic disclosure.)

Wouldn’t you know that last week mere moments after I hit publish I saw the announcement that the DexCom G4Platinum received FDA approval.

(E-mail and feed subscribers click over for embedded video.)

(Insert Homer Simpson like drooling over a donut voice “Mmmm, shiny new diabetes gadget.”)

When I talk about the DexCom, it is about the DexCom Seven Plus, not the newly available G4 Platinum. Do I want to get my hands on the G4? Heck yeah! But my conundrum is that I haven’t even received the bill yet for our 7+ and I’d then have two bills to pay.

They’ve updated their software and it can be used with either the G4 Platinum or the Seven Plus. But, sigh, you know that I’m a Mac and diabetes is a PC. Can’t win.

(For those of you who are DexCom users, if you purchased the system between Sept. 1 and Oct. 5, 2012 you will get an upgrade at no charge to the new system. If you purchased in 2012, like we did, there is a $399 upgrade fee. And if you purchased before 2012 and/or your system is out of warranty, you need to go through the regular insurance approval process. At least that’s my understanding.)

The G4 announcement totally made me lose my train of thought, Last week I ended with, “Thus began my quest to get my hands on a DexCom to see if we liked it. This proved difficult yet easy…”

I decided that I wanted to try out the DexCom to see how it compared to the Medtronic. I had heard from several people that the insertion is a little easier, that you don’t really see the needle, and that you can wear each sensor for over twice as long.

The Medtronic sensors are FDA approved for 3 days each whereas the DexCom 7+ is approved for 7 days. I’m not giving you recommendations, but some people restart their sensors and try to double this time. (Again, none of this is medical advice and you should ask your endo or CDE for their recommendations.)

I contacted just about every person I knew to try to get my hands on a DexCom system just to try out. I even asked people at the company. The issue is that because the DexCom 7+ is not FDA approved for children, you can’t really trial it. I’m a “try before you buy” kind of person so this really dismayed me. In talking with someone from the company (and never mentioning that I’m a blogger and author), I found out that they fully support their pediatric patients who are prescribed it, but that the only way to really try it is to go through the insurance approval process, order it, try it, and return it within 30 days if we decide against it.

So that’s what we did.

There was a TON of paperwork that had to be submitted. I think I had to give them 30 days of blood sugar logs, the number of highs and lows in the past 90 days, and the number of lows below 40 or 50. Our insurance also wanted a CGM trace. Because we had been using the Medtronic CGM in the prior period, I was able to submit that instead of using the iPro and all that entails, which for us is two visits to the endo 90 minutes away.

But I was pleasantly surprised at how easily our insurance company approved it. No doubt because I had all my ducks in a row.

DexCom asked if we needed training, but since we aren’t in a major city, the nearest trainer was hours away. We could have gone to the endo for training. I decided that since we had used the Medtronic CGM I was somewhat familiar with how CGM’s work. I watched the video tutorial (they also have an iPhone app that shows how to do it). I also know several people who I could message with questions. And the trainer said that I could call her and she could walk me through it on the phone. When it arrived we decided to just give it a try.

It was relatively easy to insert and we were up and running. We waited a couple hours for it to ask us to enter in two blood sugars for the initial calibration.
We started using it the week we went to Florida for Friends For Life. The next week was Q’s diabetes camp and so she took that week off. And then we were right back on it. I told Q that during that first 30 days we really needed to use it at much as possible so that we could make an informed decision but that after that she could take breaks from it when she wanted to.

The reality is that she has worn it almost every second of every day since. Her choice. She really likes being able to look down and see what her blood sugar is and if she has trending arrows showing if her blood sugar is stable, going up, or going down.

So, long story short, we bought the DexCom 7+ system this summer and have been using it almost continuously since.

Come back next week as I compare the DexCom and Medtronic CGM’s and tell you what, in my opinion, are the advantages and disadvantages for us.

Further Reading

All posts about continuous glucose monitors

Medtronic Disclosure

More info about the DexCom G4 Platinum continuous glucose monitor

More info about the DexCom Seven Plus continuous glucose monitor

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 K October 15, 2012 at 11:17 am

Oh, yeah! My daughter and I are both drooling over this!


2 Bmyster October 16, 2012 at 5:32 am

NOICE – hanging out for it here in Australia!!! Can’t wait 🙂


3 Jason Adams October 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for the fantastic write up! Also half way thru your book, it is a great read that we are buying for all our family to understand our new “normal”. Just heard from our local DexCom Rep (San Diego) that my 7 year old daughter was approved for the G4, just need to pay the co-insurance! I am super excited but my wife is cautious regarding the potential for scarring on her stomach, knowing also that a pump will come along after the honeymoon period so there is the potential for double the insertions… My daughter was recently diagnosed so we are still relatively new (and naive) to T1D, any tips or experience with infections, scarring, etc….


4 Dee Dee January 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I love the idea of the CGM. We’ve had a Dexcom 7 for over 2 years. But my twelve-year-old daughter rarely wears it b/c she has such skin issues with it! I do not know why. She does fine with her Omnipods, but the CGM makes her itch so much (even with the Tagamet or whatever you call the little plastic patch under it). Even in her sleep, she scratches around at the site, and it usually won’t stay on the whole week. So by the time we take it off, I just don’t have the heart to put one right back on her. I wonder what we are doing wrong! Plus she usually uses her belly or thighs for the Omnipod, and then she uses her belly for the Seven, so we seem to run out of sites she likes.


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