Our long-time member Vashti was approached by AMSL (distributors of Dexcom products) and asked to trial the new G5 Continuous Glucose Monitor, just prior to its launch. Here’s her verdict….
G5 – is it worth it?
In short, yes!
I’m a big fan of Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) and caution that it can become addictive. I love the reassurance it gives me. There’s something very comforting as a person with type 1 diabetes to be able to get a snapshot of my blood sugars and the patterns surrounding that point in time. Unlike a single finger stick that captures no further information, CGM grants you a more complete picture. You can see your blood glucose history for 12-24 hours and it gives you a window into which way it’s trending. It’s the little conveniences I love…like sitting through a two hour movie in the cinema and easily being able to check how I’m tracking. No more wondering ‘am I going high, am I low…do I need to treat?’; or fiddling with the torch on my phone to try and discreetly check my BSLs; or being out exercising and not having to wonder whether my sweating is just the result of hard work or whether low glucose levels are also contributing. Yes, it’s a great comfort and it helps to ease the psychological burden of the constant guessing.
I’ve been using G4 for the last couple of years so jumped at the chance to test drive the new G5. I’ve generally found G4 pretty reliable so was keen to gauge the accuracy of G5. I also love new technology, particularly in the diabetes realm and my iPhone is my constant companion, so having the ability to receive on my phone… well SNAP, that’s a perfect match.
So G5-does it live up to the hype?
The accuracy is impressive, the ability to receive data via iPhone is awesome but I think one of the biggest advantages is the ability to share data. I can see this having huge appeal to parents as I anticipate it could provide some peace of mind that is generally elusive. The ability to share is also a useful tool that allows others insight into the daily t1d battle and perhaps grants a new or deeper appreciation for the complexities of the tightrope.
So, accuracy. Yes it lived up to the claims and expectation. Old habits are difficult to shake and for the purposes of the exercise I continued testing multiple times a day to verify results. I’m happy to report that I only ever experienced a variation of .2 to .3 points. Would I trust it to correct BSLs? Yes based on these results, old habits die hard though so I think the longer I wore it the more trusting I’d get. I really appreciated that I only had to calibrate twice a day and as each week lengthened I found myself checking less and less. I wore 2 sensors, adhering to TGA recommendations of only 7 days per sensor.
I did have continual issues with ‘signal loss’ but fortunately they didn’t last for too long. I carried the receiver and my iPhone at all times together. This isn’t necessary but again I did it for completeness of testing (suffering some embarrassing moments when alert signals went off in stereo!!). On numerous occasions I’d get a ‘signal loss’ alarm on my iPhone, despite the receiver being right next to it and showing no issues. This often happened whilst I was in my car with both items sitting in the passengers seat next to me. It also happened at night when I was in bed. Both sensors were worn in my stomach where I don’t usually have any issues so I don’t know why my iPhone kept losing signal.
I also noted that the range doesn’t seem to be as impressive as the G4 range. I live in a single storey home and quite often would leave my phone and receiver on the kitchen bench whilst I was pottering around the house (showering, domestic duties etc.). This was never an issue for G4 that would continue humming away quietly picking up my signal, G5 however often ‘lost’ me.
Receiving data via my phone and being able to use the phone to input data was a big plus for me. The app is colourful, easy to read and use and very easy to initially set up. I did have some issues getting the share function to work, but that could possibly be attributed to my ineptness!
Accuracy, funky phone app, ability to share data with up to five other people, minimal requirement for calibration….what’s not to like? Well admittedly the price is the stumbling point for me. It costs more than the G4 and the transmitter has a shorter life span. G5 is certainly the crème de la crème of the current CGMs available in the Australian market but as with the other models, pricing makes it a ‘luxury’ few can afford. I wish CGM was affordable for everyone. This is where the government should be stepping in. I believe CGM is life saving, it certainly helped to restore my confidence to re-engage in life after a life threatening hypo left me curled up in the fetal position for several days. It’s not a luxury, just as crutches aren’t a luxury to a broken leg. It’s unfortunate that pricing turns a vital tool for management into a luxury few can afford. I’m fortunate enough to be able to use it but not continually. Until the government steps in, it’s a necessity I ‘treat’ myself to about once every 4-6 weeks. Will I continue with G5? The simple answer is….it depends on my cash flow!