Tales From Odin’s Beard: My First Full Week With the Dexcom G4

Now that I’ve made it through the first full week with my Dexcom G4 and have started the second lap with this sensor I’m prepared to make a few more hyperbolic, yet mostly subjective observations about my experiences so far. I’ll direct you to my impressions after 48 hours to give you some context, if that sort of thing is important to you.

The accuracy of the G4 continues to be worth every piece of hype this thing has received since the first studies, white papers and industry comparisons were released. Particularly in the last 3 days of the sensor’s “life”, I only needed to calibrate when prompted and each time the sensor was never off by more than 20 mg/dL. Obviously Dexcom can only legally be proud of the G4’s accuracy up to 7 days, but you and I know that 7 days is a minimum life for a sensor ’round these parts. I know I have to manage my expectations after the FDA-approved time period, but I’m still hoping for great things as the days add up.

I still intend to put the size of the G4 transmitter in fair context with the Seven Plus and other small-scaled items at some point, but my first goal is to see how long I can rely on a single sensor. Then I’ll see how many pennies it takes to get to the top of a G4 transmitter.

I made a few points earlier about the improvements to the receiver and I stated that these were the most significant and meaningful changes in upgrading from the Seven Plus. I’ve noticed a few other changes that further solidify my assertion that Dexcom spent a lot of time talking to users and building the G4 in response to how real people with diabetes use this thing.

Stop Lights. Pac-Man. What else can this thing do?

First up, Stop Lights. When a sensor is approaching the end of its FDA-approved life, you’re prompted with a stop light. As the last few hours are counted down the stop light is yellow. When you reach the end, the light is red. It’s simple, and maybe even a little corny, but I think it’s neat that they took something like a countdown timer and added a little familiarity to it. That shows personality in my book.

Another nod in the personality is the Pac-Man timer when a new sensor is warming up. Yes, I know it’s not really Pac-Man and just a pie chart filling up indicating the time left before a sensor is ready to punch in – but it’s the fact that we now have a clearer indication as to how much time is left in the warm-up period that matters most to me. This is a meaningful improvement from the blank/shaded graph that was used in the Seven Plus. Maybe that’s just a reflection of how my mind works. Maybe this means I need to try more pie in my life. But I definitely prefer the G4 on this one.

A check mark for each calibrated blood glucose reading.

Also worth a mention is the graphical representation of the calibration process. Now you start with two blood drops and each one gets checked off as you go. I’m human. My mind can space. I may not immediately check my blood a second time when I’m starting a new sensor. This simple display is another improvement in the “what is my Dexcom thinking” department.

For this first week, it should be noted that my receiver lasted the entire seven days on a single charge. A single reporting period isn’t enough to indicate a trend or anything statistically significant, but this is the opening benchmark that I’ll be using for the rest of my time with the G4. I’m sure battery life depends on the number of alarms it has to send out (both vibrating and vibrate+noise) and the constant checking of the display even when there’s nothing new to report (but I still check because I’m obsessed) also has an impact on the battery life, but I don’t know how much. And I’m not in a position to try to check my receiver less for the sake of a silly experiment. Yet.

One last thing I noticed is the start up sequence. Starting up my Seven Plus after turning the receiver off meant I had to deal with some loud and persistent wails. It sounded something like this:

BEEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEP

I actually ran my G4 receiver until it ran out of juice to see, and hear, what the startup sequence was like. Thankfully the G4 remained silent. Not a peep, beep, or bloop.

Now that this first week is behind me I’m looking forward to not caring about all of these nuances and being fully content knowing that the G4 is better in almost every possible way. I’m hopeful that we can get a firmware update to improve response time on the receiver and I still need to adjust to how the G4 interprets rapidly increasing and decreasing mg/dLs, but I figure my diabetes management is on the up-and-up.

And considering the A1c I just got a few days ago, which was surprisingly awesome, was the last one impacted by my using the Seven Plus, I can’t wait to see what I’m capable of with the G4 at/on my side. Of course keeping the G4 in play is the easy part – it’s the healthy diet and regular exercise that I have to focus on. But still, yay G4.

4 thoughts on “Tales From Odin’s Beard: My First Full Week With the Dexcom G4

    • I’ll be interested to hear your impressions, especially when you’re playing basketball. The increased range will be nice but the larger transmitter may be more noticeable for you when you’re posting up on someone.

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