Help consolidate info for a Dexcom newbie

Fair warning, I’m long-winded and have LOTS of questions. Proceed at your own risk. :slight_smile:

So, I’ve lived 28.5 of my 30 T1 diabetic years without insurance. That means I’ve always paid out of pocket for the bare minimums like Humulin R and N vials and rarely tested glucose because strips are expensive… And of course, had the hA1c to show for it. I’ve been trying really hard to reign in my control, though. Up until a year ago, I never imagined I could have an insulin pump, but I do now and that alone has helped immensely… and finally, the stars have aligned and I got approval for a Dexcom! Yayyy!

Unfortunately, I’ve very pointedly ignored as much CGM chatter as I could for all these years, because it was like rubbing salt in the wound, since they were unobtainable. Now that I want to play catch-up, there is an OVERWHELMING amount of information out there. I’m sure other newbies have the same problem. I’m looking for people to help consolidate what they’ve learned thus far, and all the tips and tricks that a first-timer needs to know.

I don’t actually have the Dexcom yet, only just found out that my insurance approved it, so haven’t had any training and haven’t read the manual yet.

I do have a T:slim X2, so I know I will be going with the G6. And yes, I know most people aren’t loving the G6 as much as the G5, but I want all the T:slim integration perks, both current and those to come. That’s about all I know! I also have android phones (Google Pixel and Axon 7) to work into integrations.

What can one do to get the most out the G6 experience?

What percentage of current users are actually happy with the duration and accuracy of the G6? I know people tend to be more vocal about what they DONT like than about what they DO like, and it can skew the picture. If you’ve never used a CGM before, would you even notice it’s faults? For instance, I have ZERO complaints about the T:slim’s cartridge change and fill process, even though many others do, because I have no other experience to compare it to.

I know that you don’t NEED to calibrate the G6, but you can. I know that if you do calibrate, you should only ever do it when your trend is flat. Are there any other tips to the best way to calibrate, or just not calibrate, the G6 for optimum accuracy?

Has this happened in the past with Dexcom, where users weren’t quite satisfied with the initial product and they tweaked the design a bit (and I don’t mean upgrading to a new model), and suddenly the masses were pleased? Could one honestly expect the product to improve in the next few months? In my previous career, I dealt with the FDA as the science officer for a photonics company that made medical and cosmetic devices. I know from difficult experience that “tweaking” isn’t very well received by the governing pencil pushers once a device is approved for market!

Does the adhesive as-is work for ANYONE? Is it worth even trying the first sensor out without a helper? I can barely get my autosoft:90 infusion sets off after 4 days, apparently the glue just loves me. Are they similar adhesives? Since most people do use over-tape, or tegaderm, or something else, will this be an option my supplier will give me and seek a Dr. script for, or do most people just pay out of pocket for all the extras?

I’ve seen such mixed reports about whether or not you can actually restart the G6. Does it depend on something other than the CGM components, like do integrations play a key role in this success or failure? Or lot/serial number? Something else? Is it worth buying a faraday bag? If I do, are the cheap ones fine, or is there a minimum requirement for success?

Speaking of integrations… All these third party apps! Which ones work best on Android? Which ones support older phones better? (I usually just take my husband’s high quality hand-me-downs since my mobile needs are much less than his, so mine are usually 2-4 years old.) How much do they improve the experience, and are they even necessary? Specifically, will they do me any good since I’ll be integrated into the T:slim, which will be using the raw data, not any calibrating conversions. I don’t have a smartwatch, but I am getting a Fitbit Alta HR for Christmas, so I don’t care about watch displays unless something can integrate with that model Fitbit.

What else am I missing? Is there some keen tidbit you’ve discovered in your experience that you wish you had known when you started?

While I’ve asked questions about the G6 and Android for my own needs, I’m also open to receiving the same info specific to the G5 and/or Apple devices, so this one topic can help lots of people in a similar boat as myself. I know there are still G4 users and fans, but I think those ones will be going obsolete soon. And frankly, i’m just not interested in anything to do with Medtronic.

Thank you in advance for what I hope are lots of user experiences and replies!

The G6 is great. Basal-IQ is great. No product works for everybody.

If you are a “reader” then read the Dexcom G6 and the Tandem X2 w/ Basal-IQ manuals front to back. Watch the Tandem training video. Use the products. Two weeks later read the manuals again (both) front to back.

Don’t worry about that. It is has nothing to do with whether this works or does not work for you. Not to mention, you already decided and are already committed so who cares about stats that would not be in any way representative of the entire Dexcom user community anyway?

Do not calibrate it. With no experience, the probability of causing it to be further off is extremely high. Start with using the factory calibration. If you want to check on it (which is reasonable) then take periodic fingersticks with a highly reliable meter (which is its own subject) and compare the readings. But do not calibrate. Let the G6 do its thing. At least for the first four sensors. Give it a chance.

Dexcom has already stated they will be modifying the adhesive with the intention of having the sensor stay in place for the full duration of the sensor lifetime (currently 10 days).

Absolutely. Try the product as it is before you assume it is a failure.

Don’t worry about this initially. Try the product as it is before you start playing around with things such as as sensor restarts.

Start with the Dexcom G6 Mobile App. Assuming it is compatible on your phone. Learn how the system works before you start playing around with other stuff.

Tandem does not use “raw” data. It uses the output of the Dexcom algorithm. In any event if you will be integrating into the X2 and presumably using the Basal-IQ, you really want to start off using the system as it is designed to be used.

One step at a time.

My advice.

2 Likes

@Tim35 has eloquently stated some very sage advice. There is a TON of info both on this blog and others. Some might be applicable to you, some not. Until you try the products, get use to them you have no basis for comparison if it is a good idea or not for you.

Try it, enjoy it, get used to it, then explore. Kaizen.

2 Likes

In order:

Never in my life been without health insurance, have often paid for T1D supplies in the US because it’s cheaper.

I used one of the earlier Dexcom models, it sucked, I sent it back, they reamed my insurance company even though I told them (the insurance company) that the whole shebang was defective, so I didn’t use Dexcom for a while. Recently I got a G6; I can’t say anything about the G5.

Don’t use the Dexcom apps, they suck. (I’m saying this to someone who I assume is technically more than competent; most people should use the Dexcom apps.) I used xDrip+

I’m happy with the duration and accuracy of the G6. Indeed, once the thing stabilizes so far the accuracy has seemed to increase (but maybe that’s me, learning.) At this point I’m inclined to run for at least 15 days on a sensor.

I calibrate the G6 three or four times per day; that’s just the number of times I do a fingerstick because when I do a fingerstick it calibrates the G6. I certainly don’t just calibrate when flatlining, geeze, I’d never calibrate if I did that. Calibrating outside the range 100-180 seems to throw it out, particularly calibrating below 100 where its accuracy sucks. YMMV

Dexcom do seem to be tweaking the G6. We have the best government money can buy, I’m sure Dexcom are paying.

The adhesive really sucks; it is the best adhesive I have used so far (my comparison is the Omnipod adhesive, which barely sucks for three days). I did once get sweaty belly and had the thing start to peel, but that was easy to fix. I do only use abdominal application (yuck, that sounds disgusting) but I’ve not had any problems - I side-swap and rotate, so I basically have four distinct sites.

I do use tegaderm on the Omnipods - I bulk buy the really big ones through a certain company named after a Brazilian river; I’m OOPMax but the bulk buy costs next to nothing ($30?) and lasts forever. I do know that the various skin adhesive aids work quite well, but seriously, 70% alcohol washes remove everything that an adhesive doesn’t like (or maybe it’s likes too much.)

You can restart the G6. The first time I did it was accidental. There’s an apparently authoritative list somewhere else (search my other postings.)

Blutooth sucks. It sucks on Android and it sucks on Jobs. All the problems I’ve been able to detect so far could be explained by this. I suspect since you are (I assume) relying on the T:slim s/w from the manufacturer you are up Jobs creek without the Paddle (or the Google equivalent). So you get to do the forced buy of one of the bleeding lemming phones.

I’ve got a phone that doesn’t even work properly in the US and it works fine with xDrip+ apart from the previous comments about blutooth. I didn’t try xDrip+ with my wife’s cast me down, which was more than 4 years old :stuck_out_tongue:

Tidbits? It’s a piece of electronics, it is guaranteed not to work. We make this Jobs work, not the other way round.

John Bowler

1 Like

Thank you so much, that is exactly the type of info I was hoping to hear. And bonus points because it made me chuckle.

Definitely. I did precisely that when I got the pump. It didn’t come with anything about Basal-IQ at that point, though. I’m sure I can find it on the Tandem website (like where I found the original manual), but do they send you that info when you download the latest update? I didn’t do it since it wasn’t applicable to me, and if I remember correctly, required a script.

True enough. I guess I should have said “half-baked data”, as I meant it relative to the programs I’ve heard about that adjust the dexcom data to better coincide with fingerstick data.

Thank you for taking the time to write all that out, though I have to say that I’m not exactly the type of girl to walk at these things. I prefer to digest as much info as possible up front, then run full steam ahead at it. shrugs

https://www.tandemdiabetes.com/support/documents

Rather than a link to a manual, the best place to go for manuals is on the page for the Tandem Product Documentation. Then you can select the manual most appropriate.

If you start with somebody else’s experience who has had numerous problems and an overall bad time of it then IMHO you start yourself at a disadvantage.

Everybody must choose their own approach.

2 Likes