So, This CGM Cloud Thing…. #wearenotwaiting

IS PRETTY DARN AWESOME!

If you don’t have any idea of what I’m talking about, let me sort of give you a little run-down. There’s this group that I found on Facebook a couple of months ago after seeing a parent’s photo of a Pebble watch with their child’s Dexcom CGM data on it and they linked to the group in their reply. It was all comprised of an Android phone, Dexcom, a few cables, and some web programming. It was pretty awesome and intriguing to see how these parents were able to get this system set up so that they could monitor their kid’s sugars from a far – whether they were at work and the kid was at school, or even while the kid was at summer camp. It’s been an exciting thing to see happen and to also see the parent’s joy when they finally get their own “rig” set up. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to give you a better job than Kerri did of interviewing the creators, so you can hop over here (part 1) and here (part 2) for her posts about these wonderfully awesome guys.

image (4)Then I got to thinking. Okay, I really want to do this… but what is my justification other than I’m a glutton for anything diabetes tech related. I was green with envy and wanted it too, but for what reason? I couldn’t justify in my head spending a lot of money on a setup that I don’t need 24/7 like these parents do. I’m the one who takes care of my diabetes, so I really didn’t think it was necesssary, but I reeeeaaally wanted to see if I could get it to work. Then it hit me…. all I needed to buy was the cable to connect my Dexcom to the Nexus tablet I had… if the Nexus tablet would be compatible with the system (it has to be an Android device, and it has to be OTG compatible).  After reading into everything, I realized that this would be a bit over my head to learn quickly ( I admit, I’m a slow learner ), and since I’m married to a tech genius (well, he may not technically be a genius, but he is to me) I figured I’d let him tackle it for a project. He had it up and running within a couple of hours.

Now, for the real question… does this really have any value to those of us who are the people with diabetes? The ones who are adults? My answer? YES. And here’s why:

  • If you’re someone living alone and having issues with your sugars and want someone – a parent, best friend, etc – to help you keep an eye on your sugars for a while, it helps them be aware a bit more easily than asking you every 5 minutes how you feel or calling every hour or so.image (5)
  • If you’re married, and just say your spouse (or you) travels a lot, it’s cool to be able to have way they can set up their phone and open the webpage where your CGM Cloud is, set the screen to never go off, and turn the sound on. Then they have a CGM alarm at night as well as you so that way both of you can still keep an eye on your sugars while they (or you) are out of town.
  • And (the most valuable one to me) at work, I can keep the setup in a drawer or in my purse and just have a separate window open to my CGM cloud site and if I’m with a client, I can discreetly just click the tab, check to be sure everything’s okay, and click back to what I was working on. No need to fish out the receiver and look as if I’m inappropriately checking a text message or changing a song on my iPod (to which I’m not wearing any earbuds to).

Currently, I only have my setup available to use over WIFI. I really don’t have a need to have it going on a cellular data plan to upload all of the time, so I’m okay to unplug it every now and then. Though, when I do, I have a widget on the sidebar that you’ll be able to see what I see as well.

The CGM in the Cloud is pretty awesome, and I’m so glad these guys have worked so very hard to bring us this wonderful setup. I know it has helped to ease a lot of parents’ minds, as well as my husband’s and my own.

3 Weeks

Three weeks ago, I began what I thought would be just a break from my Minimed pump / CGM combo. I was constantly getting frustrated with CGM sensors not lasting the full 6 days (usually only about 4 days) and knowing that my records were going to be all messed up. I have to hand it to Medtronic though, they stuck it out with me the entire time and without hassle replaced boxes of sensors and even my serter. But with all of the trying and trying and trying, I just couldn’t get them to work. So, I wanted to take a break. Being overwhelmed with that and just everything else, I just didn’t feel like I could troubleshoot anymore. Now, I’m not saying their product isn’t good, because I know a LOT of people who use it and have had a lot of success too, but I’ve learned one thing – there is a lot of truth in the fact that not every device “fits” everyone, and no, they don’t all work the same. Thus, my theory that everyone should get to “date” pump systems before locking in needs to be a must. And I don’t mean just over the weekend. I mean like, for a whole month or two.  I just think with all the scar tissue I have and the sensitivity to the tape the Enlite has, it’s just not worth trying to make it work right now. So yes, in essence, it’s me, not them.

When I got frustrated, I switched back to using my Dexcom. Granted, it’s a pain in the butt to keep up with, but for me? The accuracy over the duration of wear time is much better. It wasn’t until everything happened with my eye that I realized just how important it was. I’m not saying it is super accurate, but I’ve been able to depend on it more than the pump CGM, and right now that matters a heck of a lot more than whether it’s integrated or not. Plus, I have no tape rashes or burns from the Dexcom, so that’s a huge plus for me.

IMG_5503Also, at the time, I had a fling. No, not that kind of fling… a pump fling. Knowing how I am about wanting to switch up pumps between the Medtronic and my t:slim, I had actually planned on going through maybe two cartridges in my t:slim pump at the end of March. I don’t know if the battery works the same as most computer batteries, but with those, if you don’t use them, the batteries mess up, so every now and then I wanted to be able to use it so that just the lack of use didn’t mess up the battery. So, when the eye thing happened, I was on the t:slim. I was not having any issue at all with the pump like I had before, so I am not attributing what happened to that, but I am telling you that because when I spoke with my endo, he told me to “keep everything to the same” until I went for my appointment… which will be next week. So, for 3 weeks now, I’ve been using my t:slim pump. Much longer than I expected, but I have to say, I haven’t had the issues with random, uncontrollable highs that I did before. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. My control has improved. I still wonder if the cartridges I had were affected by the recall, but that the lot numbers were too “young” to be considered in it (my lot numbers were in the 300’s, the recalls started in the 800’s). I’m not going to lie, I’m sort of hopeful that maybe that was the case and now the pump will work just fine.

And, as an update to the whole eye thing, I have good days and bad ones. For the most part, if I can keep my blood sugar as steady as possible and without any major swings (like, no arrows on the dex, and no BG’s above 180-200 for a period of time), my vision is pretty well clear. But if I have a period of time were my BG has run high for a while or if I have major swings (like when I went from 220’s to 70’s within an hour and a half), my eye is pretty well good for nothing for a while. It’s amazing me how things work and affect us all. If anything, this has taught me, as I said before, it’s not about what you use to control your diabetes, as long as you’re using it the best you can and doing the best you can.

Anyway, that’s sort of a rundown of what’s been going on. I know it’s probably confusing when I just throw stuff out there at random without any true point or purpose other than to just get stuff out of my head, but that’s sorta what I started blogging for anyway.

Maybe It’s In The Design

I’ve been trying to wear the new Enlite sensors from Medtronic for a month now and have only had success with two of them. I’ve also been trying to find out what is going wrong with them when I wear them to throw them off so much. The only thing I can come up with is the same as everyone is telling me (trainers, helpline people, etc) – the head of the sensor is just moving too much or it’s getting jostled.

While I thoroughly tape my sensors down and I don’t see how they could have any room whatsoever to move, I guess there is a remote possibility. But what puzzles me is why they went with the design that they did. If the key to success with the sensors is to not have it move, then why not create a head to the sensor to be more secure by making a more stable plastic base for the head of it and a wider tape area?

This is my thought process: Take for instance the Dexcom sensors. If you’ve ever seen one, they are made in a plastic base that is attached to a larger tape that goes all the way around the sensor. Also, the sensor is inserted at about a 1/3 or 2/3 position of the sensor base (imagine two lines equally spaced on top of the sensor base… it would fall on one of those lines.. like, almost where the G is on the Dexcom transmitter shown in the picture), and so it is surrounded by lots of tape as well as a wide plastic base on top that prevents it from moving or being jostled. That sensor is so protected, it’s hard to say that anything could knock it and cause the filament to break or bend. (Not to mention, it’s inserted at an angle, so you don’t have to worry about pressure directly on it causing the sensor to go deeper and possibly hit muscle or something and bend from that.)

I think Medtronic (FINALLY) has a good *comfortable* sensor, but that it’s design and base design doesn’t help it be the best it could possibly be. There’s not much tape there on the bottom. And considering the transmitter connects on the side of it and not on top, one would think that the head of it would need more security anyway due to the possibility of the transmitter being knocked, causing pressure on the head of the sensor to move. So, maybe if they created a more solid base for the sensor head. If it were sitting on a flat, thin “sheet” of plastic with a bed and possibly a 1/4 – 1/2 inch rim of tape going all the way around it, it would help to anchor it a bit better and keep that fragile sensor from moving.

I don’t think we should have to worry about taping the darn thing so much just to keep the head of it steady. I think the design needs to be centered around the optimum stability of the sensor head.

But what do I know, I’m not a rocket scientist or anything. Just a (successful) Dexcom user for 4 years who is trying to make these Enlite sensors work and not fail.

Myabetic Dexcom G4 Case: First Impressions

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I had a surprise in my mailbox today. The Myabetic Dexcom case that I had pre-ordered had arrived. With giddy excitement, I opened the box in the parking lot of the post office, and placed my Dexcom inside. (Which is funny, because I just received the email this morning stating it was shipped. That’s some super fast service from California to SC right there, people!)

One thing you’ll notice right off is that instead of the holder being on the top of the case once it’s opened (like the standard one that the Dexcom comes with), it’s on the bottom… which makes much more sense in my opinion. Also, there is a safety strap that goes across the top and tucks into a small slit in the back of the case to keep the Dexcom from slipping out if the magnetic closure were to come loose.

The case is form-fitting, with holes cut out where the Dexcom’s speaker is, as not to hinder the alarm sounds. Also, there is a cut out on the side for charging, which is good, but in order to charge it, the cover would have to remain open as the case doesn’t easily allow the port cover to be moved up and down. It also covers the face of the Dexcom, so you’re least likely to damage it (I’ve already got tons of scratches on it) and also it provides privacy (which is also good… I don’t want others to see when I’m “Above 160”).

Not quite sure how I feel about the attached strap though. I’ve never been one to use one. Typically I replace them with a simple C-clip and attach them to my purse handle so that the cases aren’t swinging around, but that’s all about personal preference.

After a week, I’ll let you guys know what I think of it. I feel like I’m having an affair with my beloved TallyGear cases though. It’s going to feel weird.

Boot Camping for Dex and Omnipod

No, not the army kind. But rather, the Apple MacBook kind.

I tried and tried to get my Dexcom and PDM to upload to my MacBook using VMWare to run basically a “virtual” Windows box. In other words, instead of booting up your computer to Mac OS or Windows OS, you would boot up like normal to Mac, and open a “program” that would run Windows inside of it, similar to how other apps are run. Cool, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. But I could not for the life of me get it to work. The drivers wouldn’t install into the Windows OS virtually, so I finally gave in and let my husband use Boot Camp to install Windows onto my MacBook.

For those of you who are lost with what all of that means too, basically, you can tell the computer to reserve so much space for the Mac operating system, and so much for the Windows operating system, and you can boot up to whichever system you need. This supposedly avoids the headache that many Mac users face when you own one, but whatever device you want to plug in is not Mac OS supported. How to do this, exactly, is still a mystery to me, and hence why I left it up to him to do it. I’m sure it’s easy, but knowing me, I’d screw it up. He’s a professional at this, so I gladly let him take it over.

This morning, when woke up, I had a fresh new install of Boot Camp and Windows 7 running on my MacBook Pro. Like a little girl, I eagerly downloaded the Dexcom and CoPilot software and prayed they would work…

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…and they did.

I cannot express how happy I am about this. Now, If I can just get my printer to work since my endo’s office is old-school and still requires paper copies and doesn’t email. 🙂

 

***For what it’s worth, if you chose to do this, do so at your own risk. This works for some, but not others. I’m not an IT person, I’m just married to one, so I have no IDEA how this was done, I just know how he told me he did it.

Frustrated. (Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday

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I’m irritated and frustrated. My overnight BGs are horrible, and I’m sure it’s going to make my A1c crap. But I cannot for the life of me figure out why they are so high. I’ve adjusted basals, tried to eliminate lows before bed that could be making rebound highs… I just don’t get it. 🙁 I’m envious of other people’s graphs that seemingly have excellent overnight lines and wonder to myself how do they do it?
I’m still working on it. Trying to figure out an answer before my endo appt on Monday…. Which is totally bass-aackward from how it’s supposed to be, right?
Feeling defeated. Feeling irritated. Feeling tired. Can I go back to bed now?

Adjustments

It’s getting close to the end of the month, so that means it’s time to review my reports from my Dexcom to see how things are going and if I need to make any adjustments.

There’s this tab that I never used to look at until someone else showed me a report of theirs a while back. It’s the success report. It shows an idea of how you are doing in comparison to a week, a month, or a quarter ago. I usually look at “month” because things can vary just too much each week, and a quarter… well, it’s a long time. Since I see these past few months as “fine tuning”, I need to know where I am from a month ago, not three.

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Basically, I’ve brought my average down from 152 to 136!! And improved my other areas as well like Standard Deviation and all.

It’s not been easy, but I do contribute a LOT of this to both being back on Weight Watchers and also walking a LOT with my sister-in-law at night. It’s helped in SO many ways, and even if I don’t lose weight, it’s still had a much more positive effect on my sugars, and that is TOTALLY worth it. Staying in that little green margin is hard.. and it doesn’t even tell the complete story, just an average.  But I’m so glad the simple things have helped make such a difference.

And with exercise that happens on a consistent basis comes the need to adjust things in my pump. So, today, I’m mulling over a few things to make some minor tweaks here and there to hopefully help round a few areas out (like that downward slope from 2am to 9am that happens almost every single morning).

Sensing Icky

It’s true. I’m not one to stick to the rules of anything related to medical devices… or at least, not for very long. One, being the use of my Dexcom. I am more than likely to wear a Dexcom sensor for 2-3 weeks, even though they are only approved for one week.

But with this comes two problems. One, the ickiness. Just the plain ole look that you know it’s pretty nasty and grimy to have kept one sticker stuck there for however long. You can see it becoming dirty and nasty and lifting up all around the edges. I keep cutting away at the tape as it lifts and refuses to stay down with SkinTac and I replace the tape as much as it will let me…. even down to when there is barely any tape left aside from what’s underneath the transmitter bay.

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Then comes the next problem… WHEN THE FREAK DID I INSERT THIS THING??? I can barely ever remember when I change out my sensors. You would think I would keep a diary of it somehow. I need to. Because, currently, I don’t know when this one was inserted, and for some reason, I’m thinking it was a week or so after DiabetesSisters, which has been over a month ago now. And Dexcom did include a handy dandy little feature under Settings > Device Info that shows when the sensor was last inserted… but that was when you TOLD the receiver that you inserted a new sensor… when actually you’re just re-starting it…

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So going by this doesn’t work either.

And I don’t think to log everything into my phone either… but I’m thinking I may have to. I need to get back to logging them into my SiteSelector app. That used to work nicely.

If you’re an extender, how do you keep up with how long you’re worn your sensors? Do you wear them til they go kaput or do you change them out every 1 or two weeks just to be on the “safer” side? If you do extend, how do you keep up with how long you’ve worn it?

Just Hanging

I love my Dexcom system, and like most, I used to keep it beside me when I slept at night. The problem with keeping it on the night stand is sometimes I would knock it off in my sleep. So, I did what I thought was the next best thing… I put it in the bed with me beside my head. But somehow, during the night, it would shimmy itself everywhere and I would not hear it alarming.

A couple of weekends ago I was re-decorating stuff in my living room. I took down the Command hooks (finally) that we use to hold our Christmas stockings up and packed them away in a drawer. But then I had an idea….

The Dexcom Commander ;-)
The Dexcom Commander 😉

Now, since my Dexcom stays in my TallyGear case with the clip attached, I just hook it on and sleep with it above my pillow and I hear the alarms just dandy.