CGMs (continuous glucose monitors). New to me!

By Nick1962 Latest Reply 2012-02-04 23:17:12 -0600
Started 2012-02-01 10:32:35 -0600

I discovered CGM’s today. In all my research since my dx, I had never known these existed.
For those like me who missed it somehow, a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) is a flexible, round sensor, and miniature wire that goes just under your skin to read glucose levels. The sensor attaches to your skin with an adhesive patch (looks like a huge nicotine patch). The wireless transmitter snaps into the sensor and is held on by another adhesive patch. Some transmitters hold 30 days of data which can be downloaded to your computer to show charts for levels and trends at up to as little as 5 minute intervals. Some even interact with a pump.
It’s often used by diabetic athletes, those who don’t get the low “feeling”, and children who need night monitoring. Some even have a low BG alarm.
This isn’t something of use to me now, but I would have shelled out the $ during my “discovery” phase, which I think would have brought me under control quicker.
Anyone here try one? Anyone thinking of it?

14 replies

kdroberts 2012-02-01 20:27:34 -0600 Report

Put it this way, I tried them both and could have got either for free and free supplies, I have neither. I'll use the Dexcom as an example of why.
When you configure it you can set up various alarms based on rate of blood sugar rise, blood sugar fall, high and low blood sugar levels. There is also an alarm hardcoded to go off when your blood sugar is 55 or lower. I set these up and within a few hours of starting, I had turned most of them off because they were so annoying. By the end of the 3rd day they were all off because I had 2 nights of very interrupted sleep due to the alarms. It wouldn't be so bad if they were meaningful but only once did the alarm go off when my blood sugar was in the range I would expect it to be. Routinely it would say my blood sugar was under 55 but a test would show it around the 100-110 level. They akso feel like they are straight out of the 80's. The receiver/control is terrible, unresponsive and extremely limited in what you can do. One option you have is to add limited information about exercise, food intake and medication/insulin intake. It defaults to the current date and time and the unresponsiveness of the receiver makes it quite easy to make a mistake inputting the values. When that happens you are out of luck, no changing it. At least not on the receiver, I believe it's possible to do it via the software which is yet another piece of unimpressive diabetes management software to go along with all the other companies attempts.

So, by day 3 of my trial I had turned off all the features other than that of the hardcoded alarm, I wasn't entering any extra info because it was a hassle and the readings I was getting were generally not close to my actual blood sugar. When I talked to the rep I was told I should expect large differences in the receiver and blood sugar meter and I should be using it to track patterns and not numbers. It's a fair comment but when the numbers are way off the pattern is way off as well. On the plus side, it wasn't uncomfortable to wear. For something that costs around $1000 up front and $300 or so a month to run, plus blood sugar testing supplies, it didn't fit my definition of acceptable. You can call the manufacturers and get a trial set up to see if it's for you but the only cases I can see for using one with the technology as it is now is people, especially children, who suffer from frequent episodes of dangerously low blood sugar, those who have no clue when their blood sugar is in the 20's-30's and people who can drop from normal to dangerously low within minutes. Other than that I think more frequent blood sugar testing will give you better results. I've heard that their 4th (Animas Vibe integration) and 5th generation will be out this year and next and they should bring a much improved and smaller receiver as well as increasingly improving accuracy. Maybe next year it will be worth reinvestigation.

The pump on the other hand I was sold by the second day of my trial.

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-02-02 18:41:29 -0600 Report

You did a really good job informing people who either don't need this and think it applies to them (non insulin users) and for people who may be on the fence about using a cgm/pump. We need to check out all the info, pro and cons before jumping into something new to us.

Caliafiosgram62 2012-02-04 18:53:44 -0600 Report

You are so right. I've been on a CGM and pump for over a year now. I have been on the pump since 2003. The CGM helps immensely because I can see the trend in real time instead of having to test constantly. It wakes me up at night - usually I'm in the 40s by the time it happens, but when it does, I know I have to chick it out. I don't feel lows at all until I get to about 42 and that's dangerous for anyone. I have my CGM set for 80 but you have to remember that the CGM is always behind in relation to actual readings. Once you adjust to that, the CGM works just the way it is supposed to. I don't have the alarm set for highs - only lows. Because I want as tight control as possible, I'm more worried about lows than highs. Highs are correctable - just a little more insulin - but lows I have to act and get carbs into my system quickly. Plus, as an afterthought, the longer I wear the CGM ( I shoot for 7 days each) the more accurate it becomes - it learns as it goes along. By the time I actually have to change it, it's going pretty much what the meter is reading. I have my endo's blessing on the longer wear. I've had no problem with infections etc.

Nick1962 2012-02-02 09:59:30 -0600 Report

Wow, I’ve read a few comments about the units being off, but not that far (I’ll admit I didn’t really dig). I could see where that would not only give someone like a T2 a false sense of control, but could be dangerous to a T1. I’m already anal about my numbers, sounds like that would make me absolutely neurotic. Thanks for the warning!

Type1Lou 2012-02-01 16:40:05 -0600 Report

CGM's do not eliminate the need to test your BG's via meter…at least, that is what I was advised. I learned about CGM's when I was researching the Metronic Minimed pump I now use. I opted not to go with the CGM since I test 7 to 10 times a day anyway.

Nick1962 2012-02-01 16:45:35 -0600 Report

Right, the info I saw also stated meter testing was required. But the 5 minute intervals in between sure looks attractive!

Armourer 2012-02-01 15:54:52 -0600 Report

I thought of this and was serious about getting one until I learned that my insurance doesn't cover it. The meter was $1000 and sensors were $75 each and one was used a week. The one I looked at was expensive! Nice, would have helped me get in control quicker, but. . .

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-02-01 19:47:13 -0600 Report

With my nsurance I have to pay the 100.00 deductable and the 1000.00 maximum out of pocket for the year. However; Medtronic has a plan that you can pay $50 a mo with no credit checks, interest, etc just a one time processing fee that is included in the payment plan for 2yrs in case one can't pay for it. It would be good for anyone thinking of one to get it as early as possible in the year, so that all meds and drs appt etc are covered for the rest of the year. I didn't ask for the plan, but I guess they anticipate a reaction and just throw it right out when giving the cost.
Have you tried your major medical benefits. Some of my meds are covered under that instead of the pharmacy coverage.

Nick1962 2012-02-01 16:32:50 -0600 Report

The discussions I read said that some were able to keep them in for 21 days. But yeah, the more I read the more I thought these were Cadillac gizmos only athletes or folks with really life threatening lows could afford. Nice to know (or maybe even a little scary) that the technology is out there though.

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-02-01 14:09:21 -0600 Report

I'm amazed you were not told about this when checking out insulin pumps. You are usually asked about your bg numbers and amount of daily insulin, etc and then if you meet the criteria the rep will tell you about it.

Tess K.
Tess K. 2012-02-01 10:38:03 -0600 Report

I have never heard of this. I am going to go to the websites you have posted and check this out. I have been totally out of control for about 6 months and I have been looking for something to download on the computer so I can see the highs and lows at a quick glance. I think this would really help. Thanks for putting this out here.

Nick1962 2012-02-01 10:41:39 -0600 Report

Glad it helps. There are several manufacturers, and through other sites, I learned some are covered by insurance.