Nervous about Dexcom

Hey everyone-

I will be going Wednesday to begin the introduction & paperwork for a Dexcom, and I'm becoming a little nervous. The nurse I spoke with said she had one in her office, so they may put it on me on Wednesday (just to see how it feels). Anyway, I was wondering about the pain factor when inserting, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being "very painful". I am such a coward when it comes to pain :). I don't even use my finger when I test, I use my arm, because I can't take the finger sticks. I know with the Dex that you have to do the finger pricks. This is going to be hard for me. It's been one year since my diagnosis, so I'm still trying to come to grips with this disease (Type 1). The girl who has been deathly afraid of needles her whole life, becomes diabetic. You gotta love the irony. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

I’m not a big fan of pain either. Generally inserting the sensor is a 1 or a 2. I had two sensors that were not easy inserts. I would give them 6 or 7. I had trouble pushing them in all the way; I think I must have hit a nerve.

Despite the two bad times, I would not give up my Dex. I love the alarms, and they let me sleep knowing if I crash, I’ll be woken up instead of not waking up in the morning.


The Dexcom has the smallest insertion needle of any current sensor on the market, and I have worn all three, The Dexcom Seven Plus, The Abbot Navigator and the Medtronic. The Dexcom does 2 clicks with a 26 gauge needle, while the other sensors have a 21 and 22 gauge insertion needle. The Dexcom hurts less, is less invasive and doesn’t leave as prolific a hole in you as the others. You’ll also get much more wear out of the Dexcom and change the sensor less often, so that in itself for someone who is needle phobic is a benefit.

Chauncey, the most important thing about inserting the Dex sensor is to do it quickly. The sensor I inserted in the office didn’t hurt at all because they helped and did it fast. I’m really needle-phobic so the next few I did slowly and they were probably a 6 or 7 on the pain scale. Since then I’ve actually lost all finesse in insertion and just smack the back of it with my hand to keep it moving faster. This has taken the pain back down to a 2 or 3. You’ll learn what works best for you but don’t give up if you have a couple that hurt at first. Dex is definitely supposed to be the least painful of the CGM systems and is worth whatever pain it causes as you’ll see when you start getting constant glucose results!

I would say pain from the Dex sensor insertion is a 1 or 2. I happen to be a big whimp about pain and I think the pain from the sensor is next to nothing.

As far as pain from the fingersticks you should get a Freestyle meter. It only requires a .3 drop of blood. That is the smallest amount that any meter requires so you dont have to go as deep. Of course hopefully you have insurance to help with the cost of your testing supplies.

Chauncey, I’ll disagree with others who say it’s “only a one or two”. I’ll call it a “three”, which is noticeably more than my fingerpokes (which I’ll call “2”). I’ll also call Minimed a “seven or eight”, meaning MORE THAN TWICE as bad.

But I have an important hint for you: My fingerpokes are probably much, much less painful than yours. And that’s what the rest of this GIGANTIC post is all about: Less pain on finger-stick tests.

Nearly all of the the lancets which claim to be “thin”, or “soft”, are actually like driving railroad spikes into yourself! (I’m talking about the long screw-like nails used to hold the rail to the wooden ties, and yes, they’re more than an inch wide. That’s why moves about the “old west” always show big, strong “railroad workers” using gigantic sledge hammers to drive them in. In a long ago summer job, I made the things, and also counted them into packing boxes.)

The One-Touch “Ultra-Soft”, for example, are 28 gauge. That’s huge, you want a higher number than that. (Higher gauge == less diameter.) Buy and use only #33. The other ones are killers!. A box costs about $10, so just pay cash. (Don’t fight with insurance about pennies and nickels, fight 'em on the big stuff.) Here’s a some lancet sizes, for reference.

BD Micro-fine+ lancets are available as 30G and 33G. Buy BD Micro-fine 33 gauge only.
Microlet: both the grey/white and colored are 25G
Softclix is 28G
FinePoint is 25G
Abbott Thin 28G
Ultrasoft 28G
Accu-chek fastclix 30G
Multiclix 30G
Autoclix 28G
Reli-On “Thin” 26G
Reli-On “Ultra Thin” 30G

AFAIK, no one else makes a lancet at 33G, except for WaveSense; and the WaveSense lancets come in an 8-sided shape, rather than a cylinder – so they don’t fit other brands of “Shooters”. TSome Internet reviews complain that the Wave-Sense lancet “Shooter” gives unreliable results (in depth of the lancet), so it’s porbably a bad choice. I use my 33G BD “Ultrafine” lancets with the smallest of the Abbott “Freestyle” Shooters, it makes for a really tiny combination. My meter is One-Touch Ultra “mini”. (In metallic blue; very small and fashionable :)) The Abbott Shooter is nice, even though their lancets hurt too much.

Sides of the fingers (never the pads); well away from nails “on top”, but not so far down as to get into sensitive “pad” tissue. About halfway between Knuckle line and end of the finger (there’s a quarter inch of target area on either side of this halfway point.) I never “Shoot” an index finger, only the other three, so I’ve got 6 areas to use. The got over-used and sore when I was doing 15-20x per day; but now that I’m nearly always doing just 3-6 pokes, they’re always feeling pretty good.

Get off those “arm sites”, the numbers aren’t accurate. And anyway: After you’ve tried a better lancet on the “side-of-finger” sites, you’ll probably find the need to “squash” the Shooter into your arm (for quite a long time, too) to be a lot WORSE than the finger-pokes! (I did.)

Are you using the wrong parts of your fingers, or using a “railroad spike” lancet, or both? (Please do reply.) But anyway, when you switch from those “28G” lancets to B-D’s “33G” lancets, you won’t believe the difference. And Dexcom isn’t too bad either, after you’ve had enough “practice” to handle them smoothly.

For Dexcom, I think that smoothness beats speed. (Although I’m also quite fast at doing the both the “Push” and the “Pull”.)The most important thing is that the cylinder of the Dexcom shooter, and and the the permanent base platform for holding the Transmitter, , remain totally motionless in relation to your skin while you push the ring down and pull it back up. (AND when you squeeze the clips to remove the whole shooter assembly right afterward.) You’ll need to hold it firmly with your other hind, to keep it stable.

A big thank you to everyone who has replied to my question. Ya’ll have helped me out so much, and I am feeling a little less nervous. I will update you on Wednesday evening. :slight_smile:

Wow. That is alot of great useful information. Thank you so much. I use the One-Touch “Ultra Soft”, and you’re right, they’re not that soft. I think I’m using the correct part of my finger, it’s been a while since I used the fingers though. I’m going to purchase the BD Micros tomorrow, and hope I have the same luck with them as you have. Wish me luck!

Also try the Multiclix by Accu-Chek!.. I don’t know why but the insertion of the lancet is “smoother” even if the needle isnt the smallest (its one of the smaller ones however)…

What is the Multiclix? Is it a lancing device, or is it the actual lancet? Scale of 1 to 10, what’s the pain level?

Both… the device takes a cartridge that holds 6 lancets…pain depends on the setting, compared to other devices, even using the green (the slightly larger of the fine lancets BD makes)… i think its a 2-3 depending on the depth setting (which is scaled in actual numbers on this device)… theres less horizontal motion of the lancet with this device, then most of the spring loaded ones… Also i may not be the best judge of pain since i have to do it anywhere from 6-8 times a day…

BTW if you go with the BD lancets, I found i couldn’t get enough blood without cranking the dial (on a different lancing device), which was more painful than using the slightly larger lancet size…(hence I use the green BDs not the blue, but BOTH are better than a lot of the other brands of lancets)