LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pushing the envelope


“But the reality is, the human body is not entirely happy having stuff that doesn’t belong there in its tissues. From the moment you tear your cells asunder putting the sensor in, your body is trying to figure out ways to get the damn thing back out again.”

--Beyond Fingersticks


Back in the “Right Stuff” days of jet airplane development, pushing the envelope was a term for taking an airplane beyond it’s designed capabilities. Higher, faster, tighter turning than it was designed to go or do.

Sometimes that ends badly with little bits of airplane scattered across the desert.

When it comes to CGM, pushing the envelope is using a senor longer than our noble FDA has approved it for. It’s more like drinking milk a week past the expiration date than it is like driving a 1.5 Mach certified jet at 2.3 Mach.

But there are some risks involved in pushing sensors too long. First and foremost, if you use it too long, it won’t work right. And if it’s not working right you might not get an alarm when you were supposed to. And if you don’t get an alarm when you are supposed to, and you are hypo unaware like me, you can die.

So there’s that.

And the longer you wear a sensor, the greater your risk of infection, at least in theory. I mean, it is a hole in your epidermis. Plus, your skin can get pretty damn unhappy being trapped under a sticky pad for day upon day upon day; and lastly, if your body hair grows at all fast…. Well, you know.

But all of that said, in the interest of science, I rebooted my first sensor, as you’ve read about in the not-half-naked-with-a-nurse post. How’d that work out? I ended up running my first Dex G4 sensor for 13 days. Why 13? Did it crap out on me? No, the performance was spot-on the entire time and I have no doubt at all—that at least for that sensor on my body—it could have run a full 14 days, twice the approved wear length.

I pulled it after 13 days because I wanted to get back on schedule for changing the sensor on no-travel days. Running all the way to 14 would have me changing it at the clinic again, so I pulled it a day early.

Now, the most I ever got out of a Seven Plus sensor, on my body, was an extra three or four days. I never got one to last two weeks for me. So based on a sample of one, I’d say there’s been a significant improvement in sensor life. BTW, the G4 sensor wire is supposed to be 60% smaller than the Seven Plus’ was. Here’s the new one, fresh out of my body:


It’s always hard to judge 60% smaller when it comes to fish line, but one thing I did notice was the change in appearance. The new sensor is smooth. The old ones had a coiled spring-like look to them.

For an encore performance, will I try to run the next one for three weeks? No fucking way. My skin is pretty damn unhappy over the extra six days. I’ve got a big red splotch on my arm. It looks like an octopus give me a hickey.

I’ll leave the envelope pushing for those who have the Right Stuff.


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