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, 2015, 2016

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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!).

Monday, March 19, 2012

You don’t have to shout. Oh, Wait. Yes. Yes, you do.

I’ve said it a hundred times, but I’ll say it again: a CGM alarm needs to be loud enough to wake the dead to prevent you from joining them.

As a quick review of the history of CGM alarms, the original 2005 garage door-opener Guardian had awesome alarms. It squawked and vibrated at the same time, if you wanted it to (and I did). It had a wide range of volume options. I kept mine on MAXIMUM. The alarms had personality, in spades. Highs sounded like air-raid sirens. Lows sounded like invading flying saucers. If you ignored an alarm for too long it changed to the Ree-roo. Ree-roo. Ree-roo of European police cars.

I loved the sound effects. When I got an alarm I already knew what to do before I even had to look at the damn box. So, too, did my loved ones and co-workers. An alien invasion alert at the clinic was like a nurse pager: they came running with glucose tabs. On the other hand, an air-raid siren set me up for much good-natured teasing about “what did you eat this time?”

But, sadly, volume was inexplicitly dropped as a priority as Med-T moved on to the Paradigm Real-Time, then to the up-graded up-dated Guardian, and on into Revel. Volume—the most critical aspect of a CGM alarm system—became an afterthought. What the fuck’s up with that? I’m told the volume was limited due to the “water proofing” of the pump cases used in these machines.

Bull feathers.

A Med-T pump is only splash resistant to start with. My dive-certified Timex Expedition watch, which set me back all of thirty bucks, has an alarm five times louder than the Med-T systems.

Another time that I was whining about this, I was told that it had to do with the batteries. The old Guardian used a pair of... well, now I don’t remember if it was double-A or triple-A batteries, but there were two of them. The newer machines only use one so, this person claimed, didn’t have the juice for louder alarms. This was also cited as the reason for the fact the alarm tones were not only lower in volume, but shorter now, as well.

Double bull feathers.

Well, this person went on, even if it could be made to pull more juice out of the single battery, the batteries would go dead sooner (same excuse for Paradigm’s automatic time-out screen on the CGM status).

Triple bull feathers. I can buy triple-A batteries by the pound at Sam’s Club.

Someone, somewhere, blew it. And if I ever meet that person, I’ll slap them.

The diminished alarms were so bad that I viewed them as life-threatening. And I wasn’t the only one. While Med-T sales reps were advising people to set their pumps on vibrate and place them next to glasses of water on the nightstand at night (are you fucking kidding me?), ingenious parents were super-sizing baby monitors by undertaking Frankenstein-like operations to mate them to stereo amplifiers.

Volume, well lack of it, was one of two deciding factors that lead me to drop Med-T CGM in favor of Dexcom back in 2009, despite the fact that the Dex device was (and still is) arguably more primitive. The other factor was, that at the time, the Dex sensors seemed more “on the money;” something that sadly has eroded significantly over the last six months.

So needless to say, one of the two things I want most is to hear Sentry speak for himself. I wonder, wonder, wonder what he’ll sound like. Will he be loud? Will the alarm tones be long enough? There are no excuses. Sentry isn’t water proof. Sentry doesn’t use batteries, he plugs straight into the wall. Will the different alarms have different personalities? Or will they being boring same/same?

The suspense is fucking killing me.

Next time: Sentry introduces himself.


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