Accuracy. And Lots of Links.

Glucose meter accuracy is one thing that I feel very strongly about.  As everyone living with diabetes should.  I have been able to keep my A1c under 7% for the past 2+ years, something I have never done before in my 33 years with T1D.  But one of the things I need in order to be able to do that is an accurate glucose meter.

When using the OmniPod insulin pump, I mainly used the PDM as a glucose meter since it was built in – it uses Abbott Freestyle test strips.  I also have a One Touch Verio IQ meter which I posted about some time ago, really liking all of its features.  Even though it reads a bit higher compared to other meters for me, I’ve been using that as my main meter since shortly before I switched to the Tandem t:slim pump.

When Dexcom recently announced a software update to their G4 CGM product for more overall accurate results, of course I was thrilled.  I downloaded the update as soon as I could a few weeks ago.  Since the G4 was already very accurate for me (in terms of being in line with my fingersticks) even better accuracy sounded amazing!    Until it started reading off to my glucose meter and it’s been like that for the past few weeks, driving me crazy.  Has anyone else noticed this?

I received an email last week regarding the results of a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey that noted Bayer ranks highest in overall satisfaction.  In the report, it also states “In addition to these results, Bayer recently presented data from two new analyses of previously published studies at the Diabetes Technology Society Annual Meeting 2014 that demonstrated the impressive accuracy of Bayer meters”.  This got me thinking to my own Bayer Contour Next Link USB meter that was tucked away.  I’ve tried it in the past and liked it and recall it being very close to my Dexcom readings.  So I decided to give it a try again.

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(In the above picture, the Dexcom had been calibrated with the Verio) I’ve done my share of meter comparisons and I don’t want to do that anymore.  Not only is each meter different, it stresses me out completely to do this.  So I’d rather not drive myself crazy if I can help it 🙂

Since Friday evening, there is definitely a notable difference of having readings much closer to my Dexcom than the Verio has had recently.  All I want is a meter and CGM I can trust for accuracy and consistency.  Since I already trust the Dexcom after 6 years of use, I need a glucose meter that will give me the same experience.  My diabetes management cannot be at its best without it.

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 (While I have mentioned specific glucose meter brands in my post, I am in no way bad mouthing any of them.  Everyone’s experiences vary and I am only writing about my own.) 

Diabetes Art Day 2014.

Happy Diabetes Art Day!  If I’ve learned anything from Diabetes Art Day over the past few years, it’s that I’m really not too creative.  And I’m okay with that!  Most of the time anyway 😉  Thank you so much to Lee Ann for creating this event – I really do love all the passion you put into it and seeing what everyone else creates.  I’d have to say my favorite form or art is photography.  Especially since I used this last year too!  Without further ado, here is my piece for 2014:

A world with diabetes is a world with numbers.

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Device Revolution.

The definition of revolution, according to Google, is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order for a new system.  I am starting to think that my diabetes devices are starting a revolution.  I am not sure what new system they would like.  Maybe a working natural endocrine system?  That would sure be nice!

I have been using the OmniPod system for 19 months; the new generation system for over 2 of that 19 months.  Within that time frame I’ve only had a few instances of bad pods or issues of that nature.  Until recently.  I obviously cannot prove that these new issues are due to the mechanics of the new pods.  However since I haven’t had issues before, that is what I am lead to believe.  A couple of weeks ago I had three pod issues in a row – two bleeders and one that was leaking insulin.  On various site locations.  I took a break from the pods for almost 2 weeks.  Today was day 3 of my first pod since that break.  And I got an occlusion during my breakfast bolus.  Unfortunately I did not have an extra pod with me nor any syringes  (that situation was remedied as soon as I got my hands on my supply) and I had to go home from work to get insulin.  Not the best situation to be in.  When I removed the pod, there were no visible signs of cause for an occlusion.  Taking another break.

Also, I have been using a Dexcom CGMS for almost 5 years; the G4 system for 9 months of those 5 years.  For most of that time I have used my outer thighs primarily for sensor sites since I cannot use them for infusion sites (due to lack of absorption).  No major problems other than the occasional failed or wacky sensor, one bad transmitter and one broken receiver.  In all that time.  Then all of a sudden in the past few weeks I have had numerous bleeding sites.  Some that have not affected the performance, some that have.  I am sensor-less at the moment, giving my skin time to breathe.  But I am going to attempt another one this evening.  I am honestly lost without my CGM.

Using diabetes devices should not be stressful.  I normally do not feel burnt out easily when it comes to my diabetes.  But these recent problems have me totally burnt out.  I can’t help but feel that all of a sudden, I am doing things wrong.  I’m hoping this revolution will be put to an end soon when they realize a working pancreas is not going to happen 😉

Talking with a True Inspiration.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kris Freeman. If you are not familiar with who he is, I hope I can help with introducing a great person in the diabetes community. Kris is a professional American cross-country skier. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at 19 years old.

Kris Freeman

(image credit: Lilly Diabetes)  

Kris has been partnering with Eli Lilly since 2002 for advocacy. He wants to teach others “don’t let go of dreams because of diagnosis”.  This year he will be the guest of honor at 10 diabetes camps across the country in conjunction with the Lilly Camp Care Package program.  Kris feels that in a setting such as diabetes camps, people with diabetes can draw together for support and be more mentally equipped to handle the day to day challenges. I could not agree more with him. I have never attended diabetes camp but I have attended other events or just meet ups and have made so many friends along the way.  My attitude or my outlook would not be where it is today without that support, that’s for sure.

I’ve been working out more than usual recently. By that I mean 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes. And I felt so accomplished for this. Until I spoke with Kris that is! A basic day for Kris would include about 4 hours of some sort of training. A 2 hour roller ski, an 8 mile run, 2 mile swim. Then when he is training for the Olympics (which are coming up in a few months!) that is taken to a whole other level. He does 100 mile bike rides, 5km road races. Six days a week with only one off day a week. Whoa. Now I’m not a professional athlete but that kind of workout schedule still impresses the hell out of me.

Kris is a fellow OmniPodder and Dexcom user. I could imagine that being an athlete like himself, wearing the pod vs. a conventional insulin pump would be much more practical and easy. I asked him what his favorite site was for the pods and believe it or not, it’s his pecs! Beside his triceps, that is where he most wears his pods.  He never takes a Dexcom break and likes that he can be more discreet, able to check his BG with a glance at the Dexcom instead of having to do a fingerstick among his non diabetic peers.  I think we can all appreciate that!

In addition to using modern technology and heavy duty sports training to manage his BG, he also is a big believer in a high glycemic diet.  He is always thinking about his blood sugar.  I sit on my butt all day for work and think about my BG constantly so I can only imagine that being as active as he is would make me think about it even more.  A rhythmic diet full of fruits and vegetables, high in protein for breakfast and high in carbs for dinner is what he finds works best for him.

One thing Kris said resonated with me very much. He said that diabetes doesn’t go away but learning about it makes it easier. After living with T1D for 31 and a half years, I myself am still learning. And I have to agree that the more you know and understand, the easier it can be to deal with.  After being told to forget about his Olympic goals after diagnosis and dealing with road bumps along the way, it never even occurred to Kris to give up.  That is what makes him stand out.  What makes him a true inspiration.

Thank you so much Kris for taking time to speak with me. It was a pleasure hearing from someone as inspiring as you.  And best wishes for your upcoming endeavor in the winter Olympics!

Dexcom’s G4.

When Dexcom announced their new G4 continuous glucose monitoring system last month, I was ecstatic.  And anxious to get mine.  Since I got my latest Seven Plus system only in July, that made me eligible for their upgrade offer.  Which I enlisted for immediately.  I was originally told the expected shipment for my upgraded system wasn’t going to be until early to mid December.  However Dexcom made me a very happy customer by delivering it to me at the beginning of this month instead, one day past the date four years ago when I got my very first Seven system.  It has been a week and a half using the new G4 and I wanted to share my thoughts.  Kerri, Scott and Arden, Kim, Catherine, Kelly and Adam and Melissa have already shared their experiences if you’d like to check those out as well.

The tape.  All of us who are Dexcom users know that the tape that keeps the sensor and transmitter on our body parts isn’t the stickiest of all tapes.  I was somewhat hoping that they would have improved on that but it doesn’t look like they did.  I’m currently on day 9 of my first G4 sensor and I’ve already had to add some Flexifix tape to the mix.  (side note: if not-so-sticky tape is the most of the negative features of this system, I will gladly take it)

The transmitter.  It is similarly shaped to the Seven Plus transmitter yet slightly thicker or bulkier, from top to bottom.  I had a wee bit trouble setting it into the pod of the sensor.  I’m hoping my next sensor insertion will be without that wee bit of trouble.  My primary area for wearing the sensors is my outer thigh.  I did notice at first that it sticks out a bit more than the old transmitter and thought maybe it would be a concern.  However since wearing it, I really don’t notice the difference.  It states in the manual that the transmitter battery life is only at least 6 months.  We shall see how that pans out.

The receiver.  Let’s face it.  I like diabetes devices that are pretty or that I can pretty up.  So of course I got the tinkled pink.  I love that they offer three different colors.  It is tiny compared to the Seven Plus “egg” receiver.  This makes carrying it around much more flexible.  The color screen is fabulous.  I like how they color coded the out of range readings – red for low and yellow for high.  I like how the alerts in color seem to draw more attention.  See how the below low alarm looks much more alerting in red!

And also how the replace sensor soon warning appears more unmistakable.

Even the BG calibration notifications are more obvious – with the green check for the first reading already entered and remaining red drop for the additional reading still needed.

The alerts to me are more audible, which I know is a great thing to many.  I keep mine on vibrate since I don’t usually have a problem hearing that during the night.  I feel the vibration is stronger or louder.  Even the tone that occurs if you’ve missed a vibrating alert is louder.  This is a huge plus.  Let’s not forget the range.  The G4 can send signals from the transmitter to the receiver up to 20 feet away.  How awesome is that?

The battery life.  I haven’t noticed much of a difference in the battery life, positive or negative.  I typically charge my receiver once or twice a week.  The improvement, in my opinion, is that it has a normal USB plug to charge unlike the Seven Plus.  This is wonderful since I already have USBs for my Kindle Fire and my work Blackberry.  It allows more freedom in terms of having yet another cable to have handy in order to charge it.

The accuracy.  For the past four years, I have always been happy with the accuracy of my Seven Plus system.  There were times when it wasn’t all that accurate but those were few for me.  The last 9 days of the G4 have proved to be a tad more accurate even, compared to my finger sticks.  And isn’t that something we are all striving for?  Better accuracy for our diabetes management?  Heck yeah.  Of course this device still isn’t perfect in terms of accuracy.  I had an off reading last night.  But overall, there is an improved accurateness that is evident.  Also, I have not had one period of ??? yet.  I’m hoping I didn’t just jinx it but that is a wonderful enhancement.

My overall impression.  Thank you Dexcom for investing in a system that helps many people with diabetes manage their glucose levels.  I heart you.