Late to the game: getting and setting up my Dexcom CGM G5. It could have been better.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.57.03 PM.png

(Screen of the G5 app on my iPhone)

Yes, I’m one of those: I had a Dexcom G4 and was all excited about it the first few weeks and months and then my enthusiasm waned. But really there’s a very good reason.

My life is generally very predictable and routine. I work at home, and so can control my food and exercise. So after I saw my routine life on my Dexcom for a few months, it didn’t reveal to me anything new of much value.

But I used it pretty religiously when I traveled. After all, that’s when I’m out of my routine. It didn’t matter whether I was going to Pennsylvania overnight to give an A1C Champion peer-mentor program, or going to Holland for two weeks, I strapped on Pinkie. I did so a few days ahead of time because the first day’s numbers are unreliable not having yet synced with my meter.

Then, remarkably, for I would not have guessed it, I tired of doing this too. Little by little, Pinkie stayed behind when I went to Buffalo or London. I just wasn’t a big fan of wearing a device (no, I don’t wear an insulin pump). Plus I had another issue.

When I’d see Pinkie’s little arrow pointing upward toward the sky I wanted to stop it. More than anything, I wanted to stop those escalating white little spots before they went past my yellow line. So, I’d give myself some extra insulin. Splat! An hour later I was dropping low at a ferocious rate. No one to blame but myself. Operator failure FULL STOP! And I was tired of this routine too.

Pinkie’s (if you haven’t guessed, Pinkie is the name of my Dexcom G4 receiver) been laying low now, retired for about a year. But in a few weeks I’m going on a big trip – 14 cities in 3 days, okay, not exactly, but 5 cities in 5 weeks with tons of time zone crossings – and I figured it was time to pull her dance card out again.

Little did I know but what happens to many people when they retire happened to Pinkie. She died. And none of my numerous, pleading charges could bring her back to life.

That began my frantic scurrying to get a new receiver before my trip. Which I did, and I now have. But it was not without enough headaches to make a Monk race for his Frangelico! The minor migraine includes the fact that I was moving from a Dexcom G4 to  G5 that would now use an app to show me my results on my iPhone. Steep learning curve here – for me.

You likely know this getting anything from your insurance company game. First I called my insurance company to find out what the Dexcom G5 would cost me. They sent me to my durable goods supplier, who sent me back to the pharmacy division of my insurance company.

They could give me a retail price, about US $2500 for a receiver, two transmitters (they only last 3 months now and are programmed to shut down 90 days from when you start them) and a 90 day supply of sensors, that means 12. They could tell me the retail price but not what my insurance would cover. So it was close your eyes and jump. I did.

I had my endo submit a script for the CGM of course only to be contacted again to submit prior authorization. I had been made aware this was likely how it would go, but not the fact that when my insurer called my endo for the prior authorization, they didn’t have her new office phone number. And everything halted to a stop. Did anyone call me for the correct number? No, for five days when my request sat. It was only reinstated because I called to check on how things were progressing. Mind you my big trip was only weeks away.

Proper phone number given, I held my breath. Remarkably, the wheels were set in motion and without another hitch Pinkie 2 showed up ten or so days later at my door. Then the real fun began…

For some reason you don’t get a full user guide/set up guide or a video. You get a small booklet from which to set up this CGM with all its wizardry on your phone. And I am a low-tech fool and allergic to apps.

First I plugged Pinkie in to charge her not realizing she’d come fully charged from the factory. I didn’t realize because IMHO the battery icon stinks. It’s shaded in grey and hard to read. Then the transmitter icon kept flashing so I figured I’d walk through the app to see what’s what. I realized I could only get through a few first screens before I had to be wearing the sensor to set the app up. So, I stopped. It was past 10 PM. I’d sleep on it.

Rested, this morning I went into action. I put on my new sensor and transmitter (I always have to watch the insertion tutorial because I find the finger placement awkward.) Then I continued reading through and filling out screen after screen in the app. By screen 15 (okay a slight exaggeration) I was so farmisht (Yiddish for mixed up, crazy) I went desperately googling for a set up video. Luckily some nice man put one up. Here it is if you need it.

The video tipped me off to the fact that I had to set up both the app on my iPhone and the receiver for the 2 hour warm up period. Done, I decided to go for my hour walk and finish the set up when I came home. Nearly home, I get a beep from my phone. I look down on the screen, “Signal loss.” Sh&t!

Luckily, when I got home and my phone and receiver cozied up on my desk, the lost signal was remedied. When the warm up period ended I did my two calibrations with my meter and entered the numbers on both my iPhone and receiver. Now we’re swimming.

My IT husband showed me how to set up a widget so i can see my blood sugar without having to first swipe the unlock on my phone, enter the 4 digit code and tap on the Dexcom app.  And, woa, since I’m sharing my numbers with him, he just showed me how they pop onto his iWatch! Okay, I might have to get one of these watches…


But for now, since I am a controlling, analytical, researcher-crazed Virgo, I’m off to read the small G5 booklet cover to cover.  

One thought on “Late to the game: getting and setting up my Dexcom CGM G5. It could have been better.

  1. I have been having repeated problems with the G5. Question marks keep popping up with large gaps in information. Dexcom can’t seem to solve the problem. The company in my opinion is deteriorating.

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