Is a Bleeder a Reader? My Take on a Bloody Dexcom G6 Insertion

This blog post probably shouldn’t be read by anyone who gets squeamish when discussing blood or when viewing photos that show any amount of it…my apologies in advance for a bloody gross blog post, but I thought this was a good topic for discussion. 

I placed the new Dexcom G6 sensor on my abdomen, hovering my index finger above the large orange insertion button. I pressed it, exhaling as I felt the minute needle pierce my skin’s surface. I looked down, and started to rub the adhesive in circles to make sure it was stuck, when I saw blood. Not just a drop, but a decent-sized pool forming beneath the sensor. Before long, just about the entire surface of the white adhesive was soaked in red.

Yeah, this was going to be a no-go.

It’s pretty rare for me to experience blood at the site of a Dexcom sensor. If I had to put a number on it, I would say less than 10% of my insertions draw blood. An even smaller amount – like, 2% – have caused me to bleed as much I did in the scenario described above. But I know I’m not alone in my bloody sensor experiences – it’s something that many other T1Ds who use a Dexcom have gone through.

There’s a bit of debate, though, that I’ve noticed in the past on Twitter threads and Instagram posts. What to do with a bleeder? Keep it and assume that it’ll read blood sugars normally? Or change it immediately and call Dexcom for a replacement?

Are bleeders readers? Or does it depend?

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Do you think that bleeders are readers?

I’m going to go with…it depends.

Obviously, in that situation I described in the opening of this post, I decided that it wasn’t a good idea to keep the sensor on my body. There was too much blood and I didn’t trust that it would adhere well to my body. I didn’t know how long it would take for the blood to stop (only a few minutes, but still), and I couldn’t be sure that it wouldn’t mess up my readings. On top of that, I wasn’t trying to stain my clothing, if I could help it.

So in that circumstance, I did change my sensor right away, and was glad that the second try resulted in a much cleaner, blood-free insertion. I called Dexcom, explained what happened to the customer support representative, and got a replacement sensor mailed to me.

However, just about any other time I bleed upon a sensor insertion, it tends to be a minuscule amount of blood. I usually don’t even notice until it’s time to replace the sensor, and there’s a bit of dried blood left on the site. Other times, I’ll see small beads of blood forming underneath the spot where the transmitter snaps in. And there’s been a couple of occasions that I’ve bled a fair amount and been totally unaware of it until I caught my reflection in the mirror and noticed the blood staining the white adhesive. And in all of those cases, I’ve kept the sensor on for the full ten days, without noticing any discrepancies in my readings.

All that considered, in my inexpert opinion, I think that bleeders usually are readers and that they’re safe to continue wearing. Of course, there will be exceptions, like when there’s just too much blood to salvage the sensor. But every time I’ve kept using a bloody sensor, I’ve had the same amount of success with its functionality…so yes, I think that for me, bleeders are indeed readers.

 

6 thoughts on “Is a Bleeder a Reader? My Take on a Bloody Dexcom G6 Insertion

  1. Had that happen a few times myself when I was still using (makes me sound like a drug user lol). My guess it is comes form hitting veins close to the skin. Same with the injections. I find them painless unless I hit a vein and then it hurts and it will bruise. I never thought about the issue of accuracy though. The sensors are designed to read the intertissual fluid not blood so I’m not sure how that would make a difference. lol Maybe it will read faster by sensing the blood in the vein which changes faster.

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  2. Have recently had this with a fair amount of build up and scabbing. More a follow up query.
    Do you have issues w the adhesive going the 10 days?
    My most recent was coming off in an hour and I’ve never made it more than 5 days without having to use adhesive of some form

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    • Hi AJ! For me, it depends. Sometimes my sensor will stay on the full 10 days without any issues. The one I just took off my upper arm lasted 10 days. But a couple months ago, I was wearing one on my leg and it started peeling within an hour, just like you said. I find that making sure I’m applying fresh sensors to clean, dry skin with loose clothing over it for the first several hours of wear can help a little bit when it comes to making sure it sticks.

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  3. […] Is a Bleeder a Reader? My Take on a Bloody Dexcom G6 Insertion – This is the top blog post of all time (so far) here at Hugging the Cactus. It’s got more than 6,000 views and proves to me that many people who use Dexcom sensors aren’t sure whether bloody sensors indicate an inability to measure blood sugar readings. If you aren’t sure yourself, click the link for my take. […]

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  4. Just had my first bleeder. Didn’t feel any different, but looked down to find a pool of blood in the sensor cavity. The bleeding stopped, so I sopped up the blood and inserted the transmitter. The warm up went OK, and readings were fine for a couple hours until I awoke to an a sensor error alarm. I popped out the transmitter and found some blood smeared on the sensor contacts. I cleaned it off with an alcohol wipe, reinserted the transmitter and readings were OK again for a couple hours… until it happened all over again. Time to insert a new sensor and call Dexcom. I wonder now if I pressed down on the applicator too much and that caused the bleeding, or if it was just luck of the draw. I just started using Dexcom G6 about 3 months ago and can’t imagine how I went so many years without a CGM! Thanks for your post.

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