An Onslaught of Alerts

Imagine receiving the same notification on your phone every 5 minutes…over and over again…nonstop until you actually do what it’s demanding to you.

Sounds maddening, right?

Well, that’s exactly what I experienced with my Dexcom app recently. Every 5 minutes on the dot, I got a “Calibration Alert” push notification that told me to “enter new blood glucose reading to maintain your sensor accuracy”. Doesn’t sound like too big of an ask, right? Why not just do it?

Of course I just did it – the first handful of times that it asked. But when this alert persisted to appear on my phone each day, around 24 hours after I’d calibrated my Dexcom sensor, I started to get super irritated. But I was also confused. I shouldn’t have to calibrate my Dexcom, like, ever. The G6 was designed to make it so calibrations are a thing of the past. I only ever even bother to calibrate it within the first few hours of wear if I feel that the blood sugar it’s reporting is really off, and that usually forces it to correct itself and show far more accurate readings fairly quickly.

So why was my Dexcom being so forceful with the reminders for me to calibrate?

Imagine seeing this alert pop up on your phone…every 5 minutes…for an hour…or 3. That’s a few dozen reminders too many.

I knew that my best shot at finding the answer to this question was by going to the people who are intimately familiar with the ins and outs of Dexcom devices – no, not the manufacturers themselves. I’m talking about my colleagues, of course. (One of the best parts about working at a diabetes nonprofit is that my coworkers and I collectively have 100+ years of diabetes experience under our belts and constantly ask one another for advice or wisdom regarding various diabetes scenarios.)

When I asked them if they’d ever encountered anything like this, one person explained that the CGM can get a little confused if, when after the initial two-hour warm-up period, a super high or a super low blood sugar can trigger the system to get stuck – almost like it’s unsure of what it’s reading. This tracked for me because when I started up this particular sensor, the two-hour warm-up period collided with a particularly nasty low blood sugar of 35. That blood glucose value is low enough that the system can’t even pick up the number “35” – instead, it just shows that I’m “LOW”.

So as a result of this, my sensor was likely just in need of calibrations every 24 hours just to make sure it was working properly. It’s probably in the code of the software or something to prompt users to calibrate every day until the system feels more confident about what it’s reading. That makes sense and all, but dang, is it annoying. Sure, I could’ve silenced the alarms a lot faster if I just calibrated whenever I got the first alert of the day, but my schedule didn’t always allow for that. And besides, after 4 or 5 years of using the Dexcom G6, this T1D has gotten used to no more finger pricks; because of that, it’s hard to go back to old habits.

But hey, it has wound up being another diabetes scenario that I hadn’t experienced yet and just another lesson learned, so while it may have been a bit of a nuisance it was also educational. And I’m okay with that.

2 thoughts on “An Onslaught of Alerts

  1. I’ve been getting the same exact thing for the last 6 or so days! It’s driving me insane! Good to know that it’s just a problem with the sensor–I assumed it was a whole update to the app and I’m gonna have to live with it forever now.

    Liked by 1 person

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