My name is Clemma and I am writing about my experience with the Dexcom Seven continuous glucose monitoring system. I live in Minneapolis with my young son and my not so young husband. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 11 years ago, when I was almost 21 years old. I started pumping 7 years ago, first with a Minimed 508, then an Animas IR1200, and now with the OmniPod. Friday, June 29 I hooked up to my newest constant companion, the one and only Comrade Dex...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Comrade Dex and me

A couple people have asked if I am blogging about my new Dexcom 7 continuous glucose monitor system (CGMS). I have never blogged in my life, but since I am apparently the first person to receive this device commercially (or so the sales rep kept telling me), maybe I’ll give it a shot. I haven’t read other Dexcom blogs, so I’ll probably be redundant to other people with the 3 day system, but I will do my best to be original.

First off, I never used the 3 day system, so I can’t compare the 7 to the 3. I just purchased it a couple weeks ago, and they gave me the 7 right off the bat. I am on my first sensor, and it’s only day 6. At $60 a pop, I will use each sensor for as long as possible.

Starting off the experience was the sales rep meeting. Tim is a very nice guy and gave a good demonstration. He was able to answer my basic questions, but was fuzzy on some of the details. For instance, when giving the spiel about how the higher price of the 7 day sensor ($60 vs. $35 for the 3 day) actually translates into lower per-day costs, I pointed out that since most people get far more than 3 days out of each sensor, that is only true if the 7 day sensor lasts proportionally longer than the 3 day sensor. He seemed thrown by that one. I also asked if the sensor was actually different, or if they just asked the FDA to let them market the original sensor for 7 days. He didn’t know. Some things in the 7 system are different – for instance, the transmitter is redesigned to fit more tightly to the pod, allowing 7 users to shower and swim without using a patch. That doesn’t seem to have anything to do with 7 days, though. He did say it’s more accurate than the 3 day, but I don’t know if that’s a difference in the sensor, or improvements in the transmitter and receiver. Since I am only on day 6 of my first sensor, I don’t know how long the 7’s will last, but my guess is that the per-day cost will be higher than the 3. Since I am a nerd, here is a chart to show what I mean:

For anyone who has been using the 3 day sensor, a rough guide is to take the number of days you usually get per sensor, double it, subtract a few, and that is about how many 7-sensor days you need to get the same per-day cost. If your 3-day sensors usually last 10 days, you have to use the 7 sensors for almost 18 days to break even. If you get 21 days out of the 3, you have to use the 7 for a whopping 36 days before the 7 starts to get cheaper. So yes, the 7 is cheaper than the 3 if you only use it for the specified number of days, but we all know most people use them as long as they last, so it is disingenuous to claim the cheaper costs as a selling point for the 7. Maybe the improvements in the new system will help people not resent paying more for the 7, but heck, let’s be honest about the expense, since most of us are paying for all or part of these systems ourselves.

All this said, I don’t want to come down too hard on these companies. I know a lot of money went into development of Comrade Dex, and I am very grateful to have it. It feels like a miracle to spend time with my toddler and not worry (quite so much) about crashing while I’m taking care of him. Now if only I can figure out how to get it to sense my high blood sugars at night, but that’s another story.