Friday, May 14, 2010

Dexcom - First Thoughts & Impressions

When I returned from my trip out to California a month or so ago I strated to become really interested in Dexcom.  A few of the people I had met on my trip worked for Dexcom and the people whom I met who use the product had nothing but rave reviews.  So as I started to tool around the Dexcom website I was surprised to see an offer for users of the Abbott Freestyle Navigator.  My issues with the Navigator are well documented on the blog so I won't go into them again; the "special offer," had me very curious as to what was up.

So I did some more google research, called Dexcom and then called Abbott.  It turned out that Abbott was having severe supply chain issues with the Navigator and if your product was on the list for replacement they were offering cash in exchange for the old device.  Since that particular CGM never worked for me I gave them a call to see if in fact my Navigator was defective.  As we went through the motions of testing the product it turned out that over time the battery connectors fell out of the device.  By the grace of God I was able to return my Navigator for a nice chunk of change!  Maybe feeling deathly ill during the C'Ville Marathon in 2009 because of that thing was worth it - well actually the cash wasn't that much.

After I received my return authorization I talked to the people at Dexcom and receiving the device was potentially the easiest medical transaction EVER.  Insurance approval took about a day, and the Dexcom people were in constant contact to make sure I knew where the processs stood.  Less than a week after our initial conversation I received my Dexcom Seven + and was set to re-try the world of CGM!

Out of the box I was psyched at the clean, simple design of the device but also the intuitive nature of the interface.  I would like the receiver to be a bit smaller or perhaps in watch form (please oh please will a CGM manufacturer take a page from the Polar or Garmin play book and realize that a small device can be more technologial advanced than a big one - I would KILL for this to be in watch form).  But beyond the receiver being a tad on the large size it was totally functional and intuitive.

The big difference from the disaster that was the Navigator is the transmitter.  Unlike the Navigator the Dexcom has a full circle of tape around the infusion site (not dislike the minimed silhoute) and the applicator is less a Chinese torture device and more in the pen style.  The transmitter is also small and unobtrusive at no time has it woken me up at night because of how uncomfortable it is and after a week of wearing it including one half ironman it hasn't come close to falling off!

The accuracy of the Dexcom has been pretty darn good.  I have some graphs and stuff to post next week that highlight how the device works, but don't have the time to post all that jazzy stuff today.  The big test was when my Ultra Mini gave me error 2s right before the Kinetic Half on Saturday.  I was a little bit freaked out but decided to fly with the Dexcom.  As best as I could tell the Dexcom gave me directionally accurate blood sugar readings, showed a stable bs on the bike and a gradually declining bs on the run.  I confirmed those data points the next day during my 70 mile ride where the Dexcom was always within 20 points of my finger prick tests.

Over the course of the week the Dexcom alerted me to several night time lows, and allowed me to readjust basal rates that were causing some annoying bs issues.  Additionally it kept up with my blood sugars during a zone 3 - 4a trainer ride and maintained its accuracy throughout the week.  The Dexcom doesn't report rising or falling blood sugars as quickly as a finger prick test does but eventually comes back into line.  Only 3 times during the course of the week was my Dexcom more than 5% different than my finger prick test.

All in all I'm really happy with the device.  The technology still needs to improve before blood sugars are continuosly reported in real time, especially during periods of rapidly changing blood sugars.  But as a tool to adjust basal rates, reduce the number of finger pricks per day and provide insight into baseline basal rates the Dexcom is an amazing product.  Geeky graphs to come next week!


Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

From what I read and have experienced myself, the Dexcom is the best as far as durability & accuracy. Glad it works for you!

Anonymous said...

Ed I remember all too well the frustrations through training, to have something actually work must feel so insane!