Like a lot of people in my circle I travel around the world about half of the year for both work and pleasure, and in doing so I've learned a LOT about how to manage my condition when moving quickly.
One of the things that always makes me nervous when traveling is running out of supplies. You know the feeling, and how awful it can be trying to track down insulin, CGM's, or pump supplies when you're away. It can be an absolute nightmare!
In order to ensure that I never have issues with my supplies, I've jotted down dozens of things that I'm going to share via this blog. The first is regarding my Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
First, a Few Definitions Related to Dexcom
2. Transmitter - The transmitter is the gray plastic dome that you use with every Dexcom sensor.
This is a GREAT little trick if you're a Dexcom user. That said, I'm fairly certain that the principles of this tip can be applied to a variety of CGM's. I'm currently using the Dexcom G5 sensors and will update this and other blog posts after I demo the Dexcom G6 system.
The whole point of this trick is to ensure that you never run into a situation where you're stuck without any usable sensors. In order to do this, the trick is designed to make sure your new sensor works prior to discarding your old with 3 simple steps.
Step 1 - Remove Transmitter (Keep Old Transmitter In)
Prior to removing your old sensor, try to simply remove your transmitter (the little plastic gray thing). To do this squeeze on the wings of the sensor until the transmitter loosens from its grip. At this point you should be able to pop out the transmitter pretty easily. Again, leave your old sensor in place at this point.
Step 2 - Insert New Sensor (Still Keeping Old Transmitter In)
Now that you've safely removed your transmitter from your old sensor, it's time to insert your new sensor. Once in place, you'll basically have two sensors attached to you; one new and one old.
At this point, attach the transmitter to your new sensor and start the 2 hour set up process on your Dexcom receiver, or on the Dexcom G5 Mobile App on your smart phone.
Again, leave your old sensor in place at this point! This is critical.
The 2 hour set up process that Dexcom has as part of their system is designed to see if the newly inserted sensors are functioning properly. When inserted, there are only 2 outcomes; success or failure. Success implies that the sensors are "sensing" the correct information from your subcutaneous tissue, and "transmitting" it properly, via the transmitter, to your receiver or phone.
What we're trying to do here is see if the new sensor goes through the start up process without any failures.
Step 3 - Success or Failure
At this point in our process it's time to assess whether or not your new sensor set up process has been success.
If your set up process has failed, this is where the trick comes into play. The 2 hour set up process can fail for a number of reasons, many of which can be fixed. If, however, the failure is a result of the sensor actually being damaged or faulty, you would typically be out of luck. You'd have to just remove the sensor and toss it. And, if you're on the road this would mean that you could potentially be a week without your CGM!
That's a big deal!
So, for those of you who follow this little trick, and your new sensor fails, you'll still have your old sensor in place...which you know works just fine because you just finished 7 days of CGM readings. If this is the case, simply put your transmitter back in the old sensor and go through the startup process as usual.
(Now, I must say I DO NOT CONDONE REUSING MEDICAL DEVICES...EVER. But, there are clearly circumstances that call for us to pull out our inner MacGyver so we can control our sugars. This is clearly one of those times.)
Below is a quick video to help clarify the idea. Please leave your comments or other great tips below!