Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dexcom G4 Review

 I've been wearing my new Dexcom G4 Continuous Glucose Monitor for several moths now, so I decided it was time to write a review.  Also, I haven't posted on this blog in AGES, so it's about time it became active again! Sheesh!

So, here's the lo-down on the new G4!

1. Aesthetics

  •  Design! It actually has some! Someone actually took a few minutes to make this thing approach sexy.  Granted, it's not iPod or smart phone sexy, yet. But compared to the Dexcom 7+ and the Medtronic weirdo shell shaped thing, the new receiver design is actually pretty pleasing to the eye.  As one who has been known to purchase a computer solely because the box it came in was very sexy, you can trust me when I say, this CGM is probably the sexiest one out there at the moment. 
  • Color screen- The screen on the receiver is color now. The background is black and all the data is in different colors. White, red, blue. It's beautiful, and much easier to see in the sunlight. Also, the colors correspond to the action you should be taking (i.e. "red" means something you should deal with immediately, etc.). So the color scheme is pretty intuitive for anyone that's grown up in a culture where red means "STOP" or "DANGER".  
2. Accuracy
  • Calibration- Compared to the Seven+ it feels like this little device has a super smart brain that is constantly thinking and adjusting based on the calibrations you're giving it. With the Seven+ it sometimes felt like it didn't give a crap about the calibration you just entered and just decided willy nilly how it was going to report your blood sugar. Not so with the G4!
  • Accuracy- This thing is SUPER accurate in the "in range" levels and is a rock star in the "low" range. 
3. Range-The ranger on the G4 is way better than the Seven+. It is officially listed as 20 feet, and I've never had it loose signal on me once. I live in a two bedroom,  two story town house with a basement (so technically three stories that I regularly use), and I can set it in the living room and wander all around and up and down my house and never lose the signal. And, I've never once lost signal during sleep, which the Seven+ was notorious for doing, even if it was sitting right next to me on the night stand. This little transmitter can transmit through a mattress! Woot!

4. Dexcom Customer Service-I can't say enough good things about this company. They are not paying me to say this, and I'm sure other people have had different experiences. But, they have literally bent over backwards to help me out, and as anyone who's had to deal with a chronic illness knows, that kind of service is rare in the health care world. When I have to call Dexcom up for something, I almost look forward to it because I know they'll be helpful and they won't give me the runaround. 


1. Accuracy- While being super accurate for lows and "in range" readings, it still has a little bit of trouble when you're high. And it can still lag a little bit when you're either rising or falling fast, but I do think it does a better job at keeping up with speedy changes than the Seven+. Additionally, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it uses interstitial fluid to measure glucose, which (as all CGM users should know by now), has about a 10 minute lag time compared to a finger stick. 

2. Insertion- Insertion is not painful, and is exactly the same as the Seven+, but the insertion device still looks like an instrument of torture, and I'm sure that the intimidation factor on that thing has got to be keeping people from trying it. Maybe someone can get a designer working on that for the next generation? 

3. Physical Specs
  • The battery life on the transmitter is only 6 months now. I suspect the reason for this is two fold.  First, while the Seven+ touted a year long battery life, I think many people found that it pooped out on them slightly early than that, especially if they used it all the time. Second, the G4 transmitter is MUCH more powerful (longer range) and I think that the shorter battery life has something to do with that. 
  • The profile of the transmitter is slightly higher than the Seven+,which is kind of a bummer. It looks exactly the same, but it's a little thicker now, probably because of the more powerful battery.  The sleek profile of the transmitter against my skin was one of the things I loved about the Seven+, especially compared to the alternative "shell" from Medtronic, so I was slightly sad when I saw  how high the profile of the G4 was. But, it's still way better than the shell, and all the other lovely things it offers make up for it.
So, there you have it. I highly recommend this CGM, without any reservations, to anyone who is thinking about using CGM as part of their diabetes management. It gives me so much peace of mind to know that I can actually TRUST this little machine to do its job, and that in addition to giving me all sorts of helpful information about how my blood sugar reacts to food or life events, the G4 will keep me SAFE.  Here, here, little CGM! Right ho!

*Post script* Since writing this review, I have seen a number of other G4 users have issues with their receiver having parts of the keypad fall off or the cover to the USB charger fall off.  I haven't experienced this at all. I keep mine in the case that came with it and it's usually in my purse near me, not on my person, so I think I'm probably a lot easier on the receiver than people who wear it on their person all day. Just wanted to throw that out there.  I do think Dexcom has been good about replacing them because they realize it's a problem with their design, since the same thing is happening to lots of people.  If I'm wrong about that, someone please correct me. :)