Thursday, December 13, 2012

DexCom G4: Tips & Tricks

I use the DexCom G4 Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).  My favorite places to wear the sensor are the back of either arm and the outside of either thigh.  Runners up are the lower back (think right above the butt on either side) or the stomach as absolute last resort.  If you've never tried a CGM I recommend wearing it in the stomach first (that is technically the only body part approved by the FDA) so you can get the hang of it and then start experimenting with other locations.

The DexCom sensors are only FDA approved for 7 days, I routinely get 10-14 days of good use.  My all-time record is 21 days!  If the sensor is still working properly at the end of your first 7 days, instead of taking it out and inserting a new one, just select "stop sensor" on your receiver, wait a few minutes and then select "start sensor" on the receiver like you normally would.  The receiver doesn't know that you haven't inserted a new sensor.  It will just assume you did and your 2 hour calibration window begins.  It's fun to outsmart the robots once in a while and save some money in the process.

In addition to that tip, here are the steps I take when I insert a sensor.

1. Gather your supplies:


Alcohol wipe, sensor, Skin-tac wipe, receiver, transmitter.
2. Prep the skin by wiping it with the alcohol swab.  Also clean the back of the transmitter with the alcohol swab.

3. After the alcohol has dried, take the Skin-tac wipe and wipe it in a circle motion on the area you plan to insert the sensor.  Make sure to leave a blank space in the middle of the circle for where the insertion needle will stick in (like a donut with a hole in the middle).  You don't want the needle/wire to have to pierce through the sticky residue of the Skin-tac.

4. While the Skin-tac is drying, bend back the adhesive (it always peels in transit), peel off the stickers and place it on the skin.  Smooth out the adhesive so it is against your skin.  Remove the plastic handle thingy so the plunger will work.

5. Tell yourself that it won't hurt and push the plunger in.  You will hear two clicks.  Once the plunger is in, pull back on the round disc thing.  You will hear another two clicks.  This indicates that the wire has been inserted and the needle has been extracted.

6. Use the pincher things on the side of the sensor to release the plunger handle.

7. Snap in the transmitter and press "start sensor" on the receiver.

8. Take the same Skin-tac wipe and wipe it along the edges of the adhesive to really "glue" it down to your skin.  This stuff is super sticky, but since I've used Skin-tac I've never had a sensor fall off.  In fact, I have to use another product called Uni-Solve to get the sensor un-glued from my body.


Finished Product: My skin is as white as the tape.
Removing the sensor
Skin-tac is basically the equivalent of cementing something to your skin, so removing the sensor can be a bit painful.  Ever since I started using Uni-Solve I no longer get a bright, red circle rash where I was wearing the sensor.  I think I was ripping off the top layer of skin along with the sensor tape, but the Uni-Solve makes the sensor practically fall right off.  Goodbye rash and adhesive residue!

*I'm sure Skin-tac and Uni-Solve are sold in a variety of places, but I purchase it on Amazon in boxes of 50.

Great video from Kim at www.textingmypancreas.com showing you how to insert a sensor on your arm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaN_iPP-wq8

Great video from Kerri at www.sixuntilme.com showing you her take on inserting a DexCom sensor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb-3TeVS5MQ

15 comments:

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    1. I love that it's helping so many people!

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  2. was about to remove my first sensor (have had it on for a week) and then i read your blog. thanks. quick question: why is the belly an absolute last resort for you? i ask because my trainer said she's never had a call like mine: I find it's really uncomfortable on my belly. should i try an arm? a butt cheek? seriously, i'm laughing, but i'd serious :)

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    1. Lots of people have success with their stomach, I just don't like it there. I've had more success getting the sensor to stay on longer when I use my outer thighs or back of arms. Honestly, just personal preference. Other people have tried upper butt cheek (so you can still sit comfortably), but I haven't tried yet. I'd just say go ahead and start trying different sites until you find what works.

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  3. oh, and i don't see a video on how to insert in my arm on the textingmypancreas site.

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    1. Click on the YouTube link above, not on her website link.

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  4. katie, i had to remove at day 7 and the new site (once again, other side of belly) did not transmit. i have ??? on my gadget for the entire morning and most of last night. my outer thigh bled and the transmitter fell off. they are sending new sensors, but i'm really bummed out. i guess i'll keep trying, but i can't even get the sites to work...so i'm sad.

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  5. Thank you for the tips and tricks. I'll look into finding skin-tac over here (Belgium, Europe).

    My sensors last for an average of 30 days. I put it in my upperarm (not in the back, but in front) and I don't feel it sitting there and it's not able to move.

    Good luck!

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  6. Thank you, this was very helpful. I did not want to use this product on my stomach area and wanted to be sure it would work somewhere else.

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  7. Do you stop the Sensor just prior to the starting of the time that it was started last week? Or do you stop the Sensor before the day your time runs out? I know the receiver will tell you that it's time to change the site, but I was just curious when. Thanks for your help.

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    1. It doesn't matter when you stop the sensor. For me, so much of that is dependent on what I'm doing that day. For example, let's say the 7 days is up at 5 p.m., but I know I'm going somewhere right after work, I might restart it at lunch or that morning. Other times, I just let it go until it runs out and then restart it then. Just start and stop when it's convenient to you and your day.

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  8. Did you ever get sore the day after you injected it? I started using it yesterday, i placed it in my abdomen and now today it is sore in my back.. I ve been trying to find someone who knows what could be causing this .. I not sure if it is just my body getting used to the sensor or what.

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    1. I've never felt sore in a different part of my body (i.e. sensor in thigh, suddenly sore in butt or back). I've definitely had the site hurt, feel sore, etc. for periods of time while wearing it. I leave it in if it's accurate and I can tolerate the pain. I don't know why you would feel sore in a totally different part of your body from where the sensor is inserted. Not sure it's a sensor problem if that is what is happening.

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  9. Katie - my daughter was on just her 2nd sensor (the first one didn't make it a full week) and we had the surprise of the countdown at the 7 day mark - even though it was still going strong and reading accurately. Unfortunately, I had not seen your blog entry until AFTER that happened. At least we will know what to do with the next sensor! Thanks for putting together this page - it is PERFECT for a new user like my daughter (just diagnosed at Christmas, and received her G4 on April 7). I really appreciate it!

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    1. Awesome! Glad this has helped you. Make sure to call DexCom to report any sensors that don't last the full 7 days. Even if a sensor makes it 6 days, they will send you a free replacement, as it should have lasted a full 7.

      Now, if you're on day 18 and it finally dies they won't help you. ;-) Good luck to you and your daughter!

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