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Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Impressions from a Bionic Woman

Yesterday around 4:00 PM I received an automated email from FedEx telling me that my package, my Dexcom CGM starter kit, had been delivered to my house.  I had already alerted some coworkers that I was going to leave whenever I got this email.  I gathered my things and began my commute home, which seemed twice as long as it normally does. 

When I arrived home, the package was sitting on the doorstep.  "Rather small box," I thought.  I went ahead and requested to have 3 months worth of sensors, and the box was smaller than my Medtronic refills.  I took the box inside and began opening it.  All of the sensor boxes were on top (or bottom, I may have opened it upside down), so I dug down until I found the box holding Constance.  The egg, as Kerri affectionately calls it, was a lot smaller than I had imagined.  I don't know why I expected it to be like a little Nerf ball, but my Blackberry is bigger than this little device. 

I already knew that the receiver needed to be charged for 3 hours before I could use it.  So, I plugged it in next to the coffee pot and proceeded with my daily ritual chores.  I took care of the cats, fed the dogs, emptied out the dishwasher, and took out the trash.  All the while, I'm checking the receiver to see if it was charged (as if it would be fully charged in one hour, but I was kind of hoping).  I then flipped through the User's Guide and Start-up pamphlet.  I had already watched the tutorials online and Kerri's video for several weeks before Constance's arrival.  Now I just had to wait for it to charge (longest 3 hours, ever!).

I had some distractions in the form of going to pick corn and visiting some friends who recently adopted 2 adorable kittens.  Finally, 3.5 hours after I plugged it in, we arrive back home.

Next, I programed the date/time, made sure the transmitter ID was correct, and prepped  myself for the sensor insertion.  I grabbed a sticky alcohol wipe from my pump stash, pulled out a sensor from the FedEx box, and took a deep breath.  Opened the sensor packaging, peeled off the tape (I concur with Kerri, very tricky that sticky tape), and placed the sensor on the left side of my stomach parallel with my belly button.  Pressed down on the tape to make sure it was stuck to my skin, and took off the safety.  Using my right hand, I pressed down with my thumb on the plunger to insert the needle, and pulled up the other plunger with my index and middle fingers removing the piercing needle.  It kind of hurt going in, but I think it hurt because I was nervous about it, making my muscles tense.  After I took out the piercing needle, I barely felt it.  The hardest part for me was putting in the transmitter!  It took me several tries before the latch inserted the transmitter into the sensor.  Go figure, it wasn't the whole inserting a needle into my body thing, it was putting the transmitter in (but I was never that good with Legos, which is what it's like).

Next, I began the sensor calibration which takes 2 hours.  This happened about 9:15 PM, which is typically my bed time these days.  I tried staying awake by watching The Office and Family Guy, but alas, I fell asleep on the couch before the end of the Family Guy's intro.  Luckily, I woke up with 10 minutes left in my calibration.  I started watching the receiver like a hawk anticipating the two blood drop calibration request screen.  BZZZZZZZZZZ!  "Enter two BG readings."

I entered two readings from the same finger (and the same prick, too. yay, a bleeder!):  216 and 201 mg/dL (I'm not sure why I was high because it had been over 6 hours since I ate dinner, but like I've mentioned before, I test at the same every day.  And 11:15 PM is not a typical test for me; therefore, I have no idea what goes on during this time.)  Immediately after I entered the two BG's, the tracking screen came up with 204 mg/dL followed by a High alarm.  "Well, the alarm works."   

Exhausted from it being after 11:00 PM and the general excitement from it all, I headed off to bed.  However, almost as soon as walk to the bedroom, I get the "???" error on the screen.  "Great, what did I screw up?"  I get back up and go look at the starter pamphlet and read the "???" error description.  It said that this error is normal and to just wait.  No problem.  Sleepy time! 

I vaguely remember waking up in the middle of the night to a High alarm:  323 mg/dL.  But since it was just a few readings surrounded by "???", I ignored it.  The sensor came back to life around 3:00 AM and showed a little snake-like action around 250 mg/dL.  I'm not sure how much stock I'd put in the numbers, but it did show a trend where my BG starts to spike (thank you, dawn phenomenon).  This made me happy, and hopeful, that I could eventually conquer this DARN phenomenon!  It went back out again to "???" until about 5:30 AM after I started eating my oatmeal breakfast.  It was kind of perfect timing, because I started seeing a major spike about an hour afterwards around 280 mg/dL and a decrease starting about 30 minutes after that.  "Hmmm, I guess I SHOULD take my insulin a little while before eating." 

 Kind of crappy resolution and glare, but you can see the spike from my oatmeal.

First impressions:  it was a little frustrating when I couldn't even put the transmitter in!  I called my engineering husband over to help me investigate, but immediately when he started walking towards me I got it in.  (He's my force field of positivity. *smile*)  I also didn't anticipate having so many "???" for the first 6 hours or so, but I've heard this is pretty common and the numbers are more accurate after 24 hours (or so I've read via the DOC).  But once it started working this morning, I was giddy.  I was checking it after every step in my routine.  Brush teeth, check Constance, dry hair, check Constance, pack lunch, check Constance.  On the phone with Trey going into work I said, "I am such a nerd right now."  I could hear him rolling his eyes on the other end of the phone.  "Bionic woman, eh?"  "Yep," I exclaimed. 

 The obligatory belly picture:  Dexcom sensor and receiver on the left, insulin site and tube on the right.

Bionic woman!

P.S.  Just did a test.  Meter:  96 mg/dL.  Constance:  121 mg/dL.  I'll take that.  =)


  1. Hooray! Prepare to check that bad boy (or woman) every 10 minutes!

  2. Oh yes, I've already noticed my productivity decreasing. =P

  3. I found it to be my obsession, especially the first month...maybe two. Now 4 months later I am much less obsessive unless i know my sugars are acting funny then i am vigilently watching like a hawk.
    Enjoy all the extra info :)

  4. YAY Holly! I'm so excited for you! :) And also, you put your infusion set and sensor waaaaaay off to the side. I've never done that, maybe I should try!

  5. Woo hoo!!! So happy for you. Thank you for posting a belly daughter is nervous about getting her pump & I am going to show her this picture to give her an idea of what a pump & CGM looks like!!!

  6. @Brenda: I always go wide. I try to avoid getting too close to my belly button cuz that's too close to ab muscles for me, which really hurt! Love handles all the way! =)

    @Jennifer: So glad you can show this to your daughter! I hope it makes her feel less nervous. I know I asked so many pump and CGM users tons of questions before I got either one.

  7. I thought about going with Dex this go around, but decided to stay w/ MiniMed CGMS & the Revel. I love Constance though. Before you know it, you'll forget what life was like before CGMS. :)

  8. Sooooo exciting!!! And wow, you started everything up all by yourself?? No training on insertion or anything? Go you! I'd have been so scared.

  9. @Karen: I actually got a call from my local Dexcom rep a day before Constance arrived, and she told me that most people feel comfortable enough to do it on their own after they watch the online tutorials. I also watched Kerri's video so I could see it done in real-time. I was still very nervous, though, especially when I couldn't get the transmitter in. But I finally did. I think it will go more smoothly next time. I hope . . .


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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.