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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being Patient

I am having a hard time determining when to pull a Dexcom sensor.  The sensors are designed to last 7 days, but I've been able to extend that lifetime as long as 16 days.  (Please note:  Do NOT take anything I do for my personal health management to the bank.  I realize the prescribed sensor time is 7 days, thus the risk of increased infection is all on me.  My personal decisions for using these medical devices are mine alone, see also DISCLAIMER on the bottom of this page.)  But I tow the line in my head to pull the sensor to hopefully avoid infection, or leaving the sensor in because my numbers are more accurate the longer the sensor is in.

Sometimes pulling a sensor is an easy decision, like when Constance gives me "???" readings all night long,  getting the ERR1 message multiple times, or when the sensor just falls out of my body from condensed sweat and exercise.  Pulling a sensor at those times is an easy decision, but sometimes the receiver oscillates from good readings to "???" enough to tease me.  "Oh time to pu . . . oh nevermind it's still good . . . eh getting '???' for a few minutes now so I think I'll pull . . . and we're back to good readings."  It's frustrating!  Be good or bad! 

The main reason I hesitate on pulling a sensor is because I don't know when I'll start getting good readings again.  The standard calibration time is set at 2 hours, but I've noticed that it takes my sensors a good 6-12 hours after the calibration time to get going.  (Maybe it's something to do with my blood?)  And yesterday morning, after having "???" for 3 hours, I took advantage of having a free shower and put on a new sensor after my skin was dry.  With the assistance of Tegaderm, I am now able to keep a sensor on for a week easy.  Feeling confident with a good placement of the sensor on my left love handle and securing it with Tegaderm, I went to work expecting to calibrate the sensor after 2 hours.

Well, after the calibration, I got about an hour of readings then I got the "???" salute.  No biggie, I expected it to get synced back up in a few minutes.  But it didn't.  Over the course of the next 12 hours, I got "???" with intermitten readings that lasted for less than 30 minutes.  By the time I got home, made dinner, and was getting ready for bed, I was still getting "???".  I decided to give it overnight to get its act together, or else I would pull the new sensor.  When I woke up this morning at 5:00 AM, the sensor finally starting giving consistent readings for the past 3 hours.  It's been working like a pro ever since.

Calibration time = 18 hours ?!

I'm still incredibly grateful for this device and how it's helped me manage my diabetes, but it certainly tests my patience sometimes.


  1. It's not just your blood - it's that way for me, and many others I know, too. For me, it seems like the Dexcom needs time to marinate for at least 12 hours, before it starts to get really accurate. It's a frustrating 12 hours.

  2. I'm going through something like this with my current sensor -- it's so damn accurate and I don't want to lose it, so I'm going to try to drag it out as long as I can. (Plus, it's MM, so Day 5 is cutting it close.)

    I may have to have a funeral procession for it when it dies.


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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.