Comparing the Dexcom G5 to G4

(*This post originally appeared on my now defunct Blogger blog, but because this article still gets a lot of traffic, I wanted to move it to this current blog in the hopes that readers could find me!)

 

DEXCOM G5

I got mine last week.

I was uber excited that:

1. All of the data from my sensor would go directly to my iPhone, and cut out the middle man, aka, the receiver. I misplace that stupid little thing often, and cannot tell you how much time I’ve wasted looking for it.  At least if I misplace my phone, I can call it from another phone and it will ring. Also, one less thing to carry around?! Sign me up!

2. I was told that if I was out of range from my iPhone, once I was back in range, it would upload the data.  This would be a big improvement, since sometimes I’ll forget my receiver when I go somewhere and will lose hours of data that will forever remain a mystery.

3. There is a phone app called “Clarity” that goes along with the G5. I have an older Mac and couldn’t use the other software that analyzed the data of the Dexcom G4. I had heard Clarity was very easy to read, and had lots of valuable info, including a predicted A1C.

After having had the new Dexcom for about a week now, my opinion is- it’s really not that different or improved than my previous G4 version. I am not blown away by any means.

1.  Yep, it goes directly to my iPhone. BUT I actually prefer a few things about the receiver, which is surprising to me.  It’s smaller than my ultra huge iPhone 6 Plus- I can’t even fit my mega phone into most of my pockets I’m now discovering.  Also, with the receiver, I just touch one button, and voila~I can see my blood sugar reading!  With the iPhone however, I have to hit a button to light up my screen, then hit my 4 key code to unlock (because just my thumbprint pretty much never works), and then hit the Dexcom icon.  That’s between 3-7 button pushes compared to 1.  It’s a small complaint, but it is a complaint.  (And neither of these problems are Dexcom’s fault, I realize.) If I’m somewhere like my yoga class, it’s one thing to press one button on a little meter, but it looks pretty obnoxious to have my iPhone in class and press several buttons to see what my blood sugar is– I might look like some asshole texting a friend during yoga. OH NO!

One advantage the iPhone has over the receiver is that I can set my alerts to different sounds, and I can adjust the volume.  BUT- and it’s sorta a big but- BUT, often the alarm only comes by way of a text alert, but not the sound. Maybe it’s a software glitch that will be cleared up soon, but for now, that’s not working consistently for me. Also, I have to remember to keep the volume on and up or I don’t hear the alerts anyway.

Another positive- I like the display on the iPhone- it looks like this:

Dexcom G5 quick glance graphic

And if you turn it to landscape, you can view it over the past 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours.

my last 12 hours graphed on the Dexcom app

If you run your finger over the little dots, it tells you your blood sugar for each individual dot.

(specific blood sugar readings for each dot on the graph as you move your finger along the line)

2. If I’m out of range, that missed data does NOT upload once I’m back in range.  It’s just blank areas of the graph. (You can see that in the above graph- I was out of range for a while around 11am and so it’s blank.) The Dexcom rep who told me that was either wrong, or mine doesn’t work right. So in this regard, the G5 and the G4 are the same.  Out of range is lost data and one of life’s great mysteries.

3.  The Clarity app makes no sense to me. For one, I can’t turn my phone and see it in landscape mode, so I can only see an unreadable version that looks like this:

I’ve got great eyesight, but I need a magnifying lens to have any idea what this says.

I have no idea what that graph is all about, and it’s such a small amount of information, helpful or otherwise even if I could read it.  However, that could change once it’s collected 14 days of data.  But so far, 6 days in, this is ALL it shows me.  And it’s not impressive at all.

So maybe I set the bar a little too high for the G5 before I got it.  It’s more or less the same as the previous model. Having the blood sugar data come directly to my phone hasn’t made a big difference in my life, like I thought it might.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Dexcom, and at this point, can’t even figure out how I had decent blood sugar control without it- and how I avoided daily severe low blood sugars, especially during the night.  I’m just saying, the G5 hasn’t made me fall any deeper in love.

But I’m only 6 days in…

My Easy Tip to Reduce Carbohydrate Consumption

Although, I CAN eat anything I want, like any other sensible human being- diabetic or not, I try to be mindful.  I try to eat things in moderation- Especially carbohydrates.  And it doesn’t really matter if it’s cake, potatoes, rice, bread,… Carbs are carbs, as far as my blood sugar is concerned.  All carbohydrates cause my blood sugar to rise.  Depending on the type of carbohydrate, it may spike more quickly, or stick around a little longer, but like I said, carbs are carbs.

By the way, carbs cause everyone’s blood sugar to rise.  Even non-diabetics.  The difference is, a non-diabetic has a functioning pancreas with the ability to squirt out insulin to counterbalance that rise in blood sugar.  (“Squirt” is probably not the most scientific word to use, but I am not a scientist, so it’s okay.) But for me, and the other Type 1 diabetics of the world, whenever we consume carbs, we need to inject synthetic insulin, hoping to mimic what the non-diabetic’s pancreas does naturally.

Here’s how I like to think about the whole carb “situation”.

The less insulin I have to take, the easier it is to not have extreme high and low blood sugars.  And the easier it is to not make a mistake when dosing my insulin.  I believe in that saying “Less is more.”

I know there are many T1s that swear by a strict carbohydrate reduced diet. For me though, just being mindful, and not overdoing it, seems to work best. Why deprive myself of something I love when I just don’t need to?

So, here’s my easy carb-reduction tip of the day if you’re a bread lover, like me.

If there is an option to “skinny” your sandwich (they do this at Which Wich, and Potbelly), do it!  Lots of sandwich places will cut out some of the bread when preparing a sandwich so you end up with about half the bread that would have been there otherwise. I always tear away at even more of the remaining bread, and only eat what is really necessary for me to feel like it’s the perfect balance!

bread 1
this was a “skinny” sandwich, which I made skinnier by tearing off bread edges i really didn’t need

The same goes for anything else with a bread “element”- like a hamburger or pizza.  My husband calls my method of tearing away at the bread on my plate the “Low-Carb Kerri” plan.  I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all, but it certainly reduces what could be consumed if I wasn’t being mindful, and tearing away at what I just don’t need.

bread 2
hamburger bun, reduced by at least 50% by just tearing around the edges as well as tearing away the top bun
what remained of my little pizza once i tore away the crust- at least half of the bread wasn't really necessary
what remained of my little pizza once i tore away the crust- at least half of the bread wasn’t really necessary

 

As you can see, my carbohydrate reducing method for bread is pretty simple and doesn’t look like I’m depriving myself of much.  And that’s exactly why I don’t mind doing it.