Navigating New Insulin Pump Sites and Nerves

This was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on September 7, 2020. I’m sharing it again today because my mom and I were recently talking about pod placements and the places where we would (and would not), hypothetically, feel comfortable wearing a pod. It got me thinking about how I’ve had to work up the courage to try new sites over the years, which inspired me to write this post to hopefully help others who feel the same way about navigating new pump sites and nerves. Read on for more…

Am I the only T1D out there who feels incredibly nervous about trying new insulin infusion sites?

I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, now that I’m thinking about it. Throughout my childhood, I stubbornly stuck to injecting in my arms, legs, and upper buttocks (tee-hee) because those were the areas I felt comfortable with. I don’t think I even considered jabbing myself in my stomach until I was in my teens, and it was only after I realized the importance of site rotation and reducing scar tissue.

So it’s kind of funny that when I went on the OmniPod just over five years ago, I only used my stomach and my lower back (just above the upper buttocks region, tee-hee) for pod placements. It was partly because my guinea pig – I mean, my mom – used those areas for her pods with success, and also because I was hesitant in the beginning to wear my pods on my arms or legs because of their increased visibility.

It went that way for a couple of year – four basic sites ’round my abdomen – when it occurred to me yet again that site rotation was also important for insulin pumpers, not just MDI-ers (multiple daily injection…ers). So I added my upper arms into the mix, and soon after, my upper thighs followed.

The little diagram (courtesy of Insulet/OmniPod) above only shows a few of the sites that people with diabetes use…over the years, we’ve gotten a lot more creative!

But lately, I’ve shied away from wearing pods on my thighs because the area isn’t overly comfortable. When I roll over in my sleep at night, my pod presses up against my leg and the resulting pressure is just enough to disrupt my sleep and make it difficult for me to find a more restful position to sleep in.

As a result, I’ve started contemplating potential new pod sites, and one of the first places I went to for advice was…Instagram! Because…duh.

The DOC (diabetes online community) on Insta is a natural resource for this sort of thing because many people tend to share photos of their sites. It’s kind of a thing. One simple scroll through my feed taught me that people can get very inventive when it comes to finding new locations to place their CGMs and insulin pump infusion sites.

I saw people wearing Dexcoms on their forearms and calves. I saw pods on backs, calves, and even the upper chest area, the latter of which I found most intriguing. For men, it seems like a very accessible spot that causes little irritation, but for women? How the heck did the T1D ladies I saw with pods on their chest deal with it?

The general consensus, it seemed, was that women wearing pods on the upper chest agreed it was a site with great absorption and minimal discomfort.

I was still skeptical, though. I was worried about how it would look if I was wearing a v-neck tank with my pod poking out of, well, my bra! Then it hit me that my pod garners questions from strangers regardless of where it’s located. Furthermore, people will (probably?) be less likely to ask about it if it’s located on my chest because, um, that’s really awkward. My eyes are up here, people!!!

Then I remembered: I could give the site a try without wasting a pod because I have a demo pack that I got from a diabetes conference awhile back! The demo pack comes with a dummy pod that looks and feels just like a regular pod, but there’s no reservoir built into it, so insulin can’t be injected into it.

So right now, as I’m writing this, I’m wearing two pods: one on my upper arm that’s actually giving me insulin, and a fake one on my chest just to see how I like it. I must admit, so far, so good! I slept comfortably with it on last night and I haven’t had any issues wearing clothing or undergarments with it. I even went for a jog with it on and got pretty sweaty, but it stayed secure/I didn’t feel it bouncing around at all (thought the adhesive got a bit too damp for my liking…it stayed on but if I wasn’t careful I totally could’ve knocked it off).

While I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around an actual cannula piercing my skin at this location (eeeek), now that I know I can handle the pod itself living there, I’m one step closer to trying (and liking) a site that’s more intimidating to me – a win in my book.

A Rookie Mistake

You’d think that 24 years of living with diabetes would turn anyone into a seasoned veteran of the condition, but even the most experienced people with diabetes slip up and make mistakes every now and then…

Case in point? Me, because I neglected to make sure I had a way of monitoring or checking my blood sugar when exercising…and then experiencing a scary low that I probably could have caught sooner, or maybe even avoided, if I hadn’t been so careless.

This all happened because I inserted a new Dexcom sensor just before taking off for my 3-hour self-defense class. I knew that the sensor’s warm-up period would end and that my continuous blood sugar readings would begin partway through class, so I felt fairly comfortable going without a blood sugar meter as a back-up. After all, my Dexcom sensors almost always start up without any issue, so I was trusting that this one would follow suit.

And that was my biggest mistake: trusting my technology.

Any time I make a rookie diabetes mistake, my palm goes straight to my face in embarassment.

When the warm-up period was complete and the class was taking a quick water break, I decided to check my Dex to see what my first blood sugar readings were. I was surprised (and instantly annoyed) to see that instead of a number, my Dexcom was displaying a request for a blood sugar calibration – just like the old G5s used to ask for upon insertion of a new sensor. I couldn’t understand why this happened, but I knew that pondering the matter wouldn’t make any difference…the only thing that would get my Dexcom running normally again was the finger stick checks, which wouldn’t be possible for me to do until I got home from the class because I was without my meter.

So I had no choice but to rely on nothing but my instincts and sensations in order to get a sense of where my blood sugar was headed for the remainder of the class.

And let me tell you, I can’t remember the last time I felt so vulnerable in terms of my diabetes. I was running on zero information, other than the fact that I typically can feel oncoming low blood sugars and that I tend to feel thirstier when my numbers are on the upswing. It was disconcerting – even more so when a little while later I started to feel shaky and dizzy, like I was starting to go low.

I knew I could either 1) treat what I thought was a low blood sugar and deal with the potential consequences (high blood sugar) when I got home, or 2) take a chance and ignore the low symptoms because I couldn’t confirm whether or not I was actually low. I hate to admit it, but I let a good 15-20 minutes pass before I decided it was better to correct what felt like a low rather than run the risk of passing out in front of the entire class. Turns out that I made the right call to treat my low: I felt much better after I ate some fruit snacks, and my blood sugar when I got home that evening was in the low 80s, indicating that I probably avoided a pretty nasty low in class.

While the whole incident could’ve been easily avoided, it did remind me that I ought to take some of the trust that I have in my technology and distribute it a little more evenly between it and my instincts. I proved to myself that in emergency situations, I don’t need a meter or a CGM to pick up on low blood sugars (though I obviously would prefer to have that equipment at my disposal at all times). Instead, I need to trust my instincts more and procrastinate less when it comes to taking an action – because if I had waited longer than those 15-20 minutes, the situation could’ve escalated and then I would’ve really been kicking myself for leaving my meter at home.

Rookie mistakes suck when they happen, but at least the silver lining is that there’s always a lesson to be learned (or reinforced) when they do.

The Dexcom Site I’d Never Try Again

This blog post was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on February 26, 2021. I’m sharing it again today because I see folks trying new Dexcom sites all the time, usually with a lot of success! I thought it was worth it to share my experience with the forearm site because it was the polar opposite of a win for me – read on to learn why.

I don’t usually regret trying new sites for my Dexcom and OmniPod.

But recently, I discovered the one area that I wish I hadn’t tried…and that is my forearm.

The forearm Dexcom site gets a big old NOPE and OUCH from me.

For a couple years now, I’ve seen forearm Dexcom sites all across social media. People lauded the location for how comfortable it is and the accurate readings it produces, so I figured, why not give it a shot? (LOL diabetes humor.)

Plus, I wanted to give my stomach and the backs of my arms a break. I put both pods and sensors in those locations and while I like them a lot, I’m wary of scar tissue building up.

So with little fanfare, I tried putting my Dexcom on my left forearm (my non-dominant arm). And I knew immediately after hitting the orange button to insert the sensor that it was a bad choice because it STUNG. It stung something fierce! I remember wincing the moment it pierced my skin, and fortunately, the pain did go away…but resurged with a vengeance about half the time I made any arm motions. It didn’t matter if I was flexing it up or down or twisting it to reach for something – any movement could trigger varying degrees of pain. Nothing incredibly intolerable, but enough to make this site uncomfortable.

My face says exactly how I feel about this site: It’s not a winner.

And this pain didn’t altogether disappear one day: I still felt stings 24 hours after I put the sensor on. Maybe I hit precisely the wrong spot (I noticed a very small amount of blood discoloring the white adhesive of the sensor), but I asked the diabetes online community and it seems that the general consensus is that this location sucks. The half-dozen or so people who messaged me said that either the pain was too much and they took the sensor off early, or they toughed it out for a full 10 days and never used the site again.

What’s more is that this site wasn’t as out-of-the-way as I wanted it to be. I roll up my sleeves dozens of times each day for different tasks, and each time I went to roll up my left sleeve, I had to go about it gingerly so I didn’t risk bumping into the site and prompting ripples of pain. This was straight-up annoying because my diabetes devices don’t usually inhibit my movements so much.

The one plus-side of trying the new site, and the only thing that motivated me to keep it on for the full 10 days, is that it was just as accurate as any other Dexcom site I’ve tried. My readings matched up pretty closely with how I felt and with what my blood sugar meter reported, so that was a saving grace. And I have to admit that even though I was worried that sleep would be impossible with the sensor in such a tender spot, it really didn’t interfere with my slumbers, which was a relief.

All in all, though, the accuracy wasn’t enough to convince me to want to keep forearm sites in my regular rotation. I’ll stick with abdomen and upper arm sites for now, with the occasional thigh site to further prevent scar tissue.

Battery Blues

Between this post and the one from a couple of weeks ago, this blog is rapidly turning into one in which I bemoan the battery life of my diabetes devices…

The fact of the matter is, though, that I’ve definitely had my share of battery issues lately. The Omnipod DASH problem was resolved (rather swiftly), thanks to the folks at Insulet. But now it’s my Dexcom transmitter battery that’s acting up…and resulting in a whole lot of lost data (and even more frustration) for me.

If I can’t have a working pancreas can’t my diabetes devices at least have everlasting batteries?

It all started about a week and a half ago, when my Dexcom app notified me that my transmitter battery would be expiring in 3 weeks. That was to be expected – Dexcom transmitter batteries last 90 days, and according to my records, the one I’d been using was for sure approaching the expiry date.

What I didn’t expect was that the waning battery life in my transmitter would trigger multiple false blood sugar readings and periods of no readings whatsoever. At least I think my transmitter is to blame – I hadn’t experienced any issues with sensors from my last shipment and the app usually never experiences errors like this unless there’s a problem with the sensor and/or transmitter, so logic led me to conclude that my transmitter was simply losing reliability as it came closer and closer to its expiration.

My workaround was to do finger stick checks any time I was untrusting of my Dexcom, or whenever it was giving me a “no readings” alert. Plus, I’ve got a fresh transmitter ready to be activated once this one stops working, so it’s not like I’ll be without a Dexcom for an unbearable length of time.

In spite of that, I still thought this was worth talking about here on the blog because 1) I can’t remember if I’ve ever had a transmitter fade so dramatically in the last 3 weeks of its lifespan, 2) it was an exasperating situation and I needed to vent, and 3) I’m wondering if this has ever happened to anyone else before, and if there’s a workaround.

At this moment in time, I’m not quite sure what a feasible solution would be besides ripping a sensor off prematurely and sticking to finger stick checks for a few days until my annoyance ebbs…which is exactly the strategy that I decided to go with. I’m definitely looking forward to new transmitter time…

The Dazzingly DASHing Drained Battery

Cell phones, eReaders, tablets, video game consoles, PDM devices…these are all electronic devices that rely on rechargeable batteries in order to keep them up and running. Of all those possibilities, which one do I think has the worst battery life?

Unfortunately, it’s my Omnipod PDM.

The speed at which my Omnipod DASH PDM battery drains is alarming…

It’s particularly unfortunate because the fact that the Omnipod DASH has a rechargeable PDM was one of the more exciting features to me when I first started using it. It always bothered me that I had to remember to keep AAA batteries on me at all times with the traditional Omnipod model (I know, I’m making a mountain out of a molehill with that one, but people with diabetes already have to remember to carry so many “just in case” items on us at all times that something like two measly batteries feels like a big effin’ deal). I also disliked how it was pretty difficult to predict when the traditional Omnipod PDM’s batteries would run out of juice (though I eventually did an experiment that helped me approximate the batteries’ lifespan a little better).

So imagine my delight when I learned that my DASH PDM could be recharged! This would feel like second nature to me seeing as I already own so many electronic devices that run on rechargeable batteries. According to the instructions manual for my DASH system, the battery would be able to last 3-4 days on a single charge, so it was nice to know that I’d have to expect to charge my new PDM only once or twice per week.

But in late September – only 4-6 weeks after I started using my DASH system – I noticed a slight issue. My DASH PDM was only holding a charge for a day, maybe a day and a half. This little problem exploded into a significant headache when I went on a trip to California and my PDM died right in the middle of my day trip to San Francisco, forcing my boyfriend and I to troubleshoot quickly.

I should’ve learned my lesson right then and there and called Insulet when I returned home from my trip, but…life happens. My schedule grew extremely busy, then the holidays were here, then I just…well, I grew complacent with having to recharge my PDM on a mostly daily basis. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but I only defend this behavior in a similar way to how I felt about carrying extra batteries on me at all times because there are simply far more important things to worry about when it comes to living life with diabetes. I was fine to coexist with this short battery lifespan if it meant that everything else in my little diabetes world was working okay – and since it was, I didn’t think to do anything about it…

…until recently, when I decided that maybe I should call Insulet and ask for their advice.

Thanks to their wonderful customer service team, I learned that if I were to use any charging cord or plug besides the one that came with my PDM originally, that might contribute to dazzingly dashing drained batteries. That caught my attention because I definitely wasn’t always using the right cord/plug: Often, I was just grabbing the first thing in sight around my condo seeing as so many other electronic devices can be recharged with the same style of cable.

I was reassured that I was doing all of the right things otherwise – silencing alarms when they came up, putting my screen to sleep when I wasn’t using it, and changing my system settings so the screen was programmed to go dark in the shortest amount of time possible. I was also promised a new PDM if, after a few weeks’ time of using exclusively the Omnipod DASH charger, I noticed that it was still having drained battery issues.

Sure enough, the problem has persisted, so I now owe Insulet another call to get my PDM replaced altogether. Here’s hoping that my replacement will outDASH my bad PDM in terms of battery life…

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.

What I’m Looking Forward to the Most About the Omnipod 5

I experienced many emotions when it was announced, at long last, that the Omnipod 5 received FDA approval. The most prevalent one was joy: I was elated for myself, my mom, my coworker MJ, and all other people with diabetes who have greatly anticipated this day for what felt like ages. The thought that so much of the heavy weight associated with life with diabetes will soon be lifted off our collective shoulders is one that is thrilling beyond words.

Besides joy, I felt anxious (when will we actually have access to this technology?!), hopeful (the wait is bound to be worth it), surprise (I hadn’t expected the FDA approval this early into 2022), and…relief. That last emotion was probably the one I felt most strongly right behind my joy, and that’s because I’m taking solace in knowing that my secret diabetes struggle will be no more with the help of the Omnipod 5. And this leads me to the explanation of what I’m most looking forward to about the Omnipod 5…

I cannot wait to get my hands on the Omnipod 5…but for now, I’ll have to settle for staring at this promo image of it.

…and that is sleep. Yes, sleep. More specifically, sleeping soundly through the night, every night. Because my secret diabetes struggle has gotten in the way of that to new extremes in the last several months.

Long story short (I’ll save the long version for an upcoming blog post), my sleep is disrupted perhaps 3-4 times per week due to a low blood sugar. It’s annoying, sure, but part of the problem is my complacency in the matter. As crazy as it may sound, I’ve grown accustomed to the sound of my Dexcom alarming at any hour of the night and rolling over to grab a low snack from my nightstand drawer.

I think it’s been so easy for me to make peace with because of all the diabetes battles I could pick and choose (for example, if I had to choose waking up for lows or dealing with high blood sugars for hours on end any time of day), it’s the one that seems the most painless compared to every other possible scenario. It’s a weak explanation for this behavior, but it’s the best one I’ve got and I think that some people living with diabetes could probably understand (or even relate to) this rationale.

So that’s why I get a little teary-eyed thinking about how the automated insulin delivery mechanism of the Omnipod 5 could help reintroduce truly restful nights of sleep back into my life.

They are tears of joy, anticipation, and hope over how this new piece of technology may very well help me (and countless other people I love and care about) reclaim so many aspects of life that “normal” people take for granted.

The Major Diabetes Mistake I Made

I recently experienced a diabetes first: I bolused myself for 10 units of insulin instead of the one, single unit that I had intended to give myself.

Whoops.

Major whoops.

This careless mistake occurred because I simply wasn’t paying attention when I was inputting numbers into my PDM. I thought I had entered “10” as the amount next to the number of carbs I was about to eat when in reality, I overrode my PDM’s suggestion from 1 to 10 in the total bolus calculator. And I didn’t even realize this until I heard my pod beep randomly several minutes after I’d fiddled around with my PDM. Thank goodness I did notice that beep; otherwise, I would’ve been alerted to my mistake about an hour later when my blood sugar would inevitably start to plummet.

Upon hearing that beep, I decided to check my PDM to see what was up – I assumed that maybe I had a temp basal running that I’d forgotten about, and my pod was just letting me know that it was finished. Obviously, this was not the case. When I saw that I’d bolused 10 units, a wave a panic crashed over me and I immediately started crying. My poor mother, who witnessed me making this discovery, started inquiring what was wrong and I explained to her what I’d done while I brushed angry, frustrated tears off my face. I was in disbelief that I’d done something so stupid. My mom, though, brought me back to reality and redirected my attention to the fact that I should prioritize finding food to eat that would ensure that my blood sugar wouldn’t crash any time soon. I remember taking a breath, then scanning the kitchen for something high-carb that would kick in sooner rather than later.

My eyes landed on cereal, which is notorious for causing blood sugar spikes but also incredibly easy to eat lots of…especially when you aren’t overly hungry but desperately need to eat in order to avoid a scary situation.

See my finger hovering over the digital touchscreen of my PDM? It’s pretty dang easy for said finger to slip and hit a number when I didn’t mean to do so.

So I poured myself a big bowl of Life cereal mixed with Cheerios – not my first choice when it comes to cereal, but that’s what was in my parents’ pantry and this beggar really couldn’t afford to be a chooser, given the circumstances. I sat there and stewed as I ate what was probably the least enjoyable bowl of cereal of my life because I was too busy cursing myself for making such a stupid mistake and wasting insulin that I didn’t really need. Why didn’t I check my inputs before starting my bolus? How could I have ignored my ticking pod as unit after unit of insulin pumped into my body? What kind of idiot does that to herself?

I can’t answer the first two questions, but I can take a stab at that last one – the kind of idiot who is a human who’s had diabetes for most of her life and errs from time to time, just like any other human being with or without diabetes.

Sure, I was furious with myself for screwing up like this, but all things considered…it was bound to happen eventually. We all make mistakes and it’s impossible to double-check every action taken in life. I’ve had some time and space to process this incident, and I’ve forgiven myself for this reason coupled with the fact that I’ve never done anything like this before in two dozen years of life with diabetes. That’s a significant amount of time to go without an incident like this!

Plus, with that forgiveness comes the value of an important lesson learned, which is to be more mindful when I’m taking a bolus. It’s so easy to mistype something on a computer keyboard or when texting someone and this scenario is no different from that. I need to be better about being my own autocorrect, but balance the weight of that responsibility with the knowledge that I’m a human who is managing diabetes 24/7, which is exhausting, and that perfection is a myth.

Major diabetes mistake made, lesson learned, and time to move onward and upward.

First Impressions: The OmniPod DASH

At long last, the day has come…the day for me to share my first impressions of the OmniPod DASH!

Full disclosure: I’ve only been using the system for 3 days as of this writing. But I thought it was important to capture my beginning thoughts on how it works because they’re bound to change over time as I gain more experience and familiarity with the system.

So without further ado, here’s a bullet point list (‘cuz who doesn’t love a good list) that hits the highs and lows – yes, pun intended – of the DASH so far:

  • It was shockingly easy and fast to set up. I was worried about inputting all my settings from my old OmniPod into the DASH system and assumed that I would need a block of time to do so. This is why I decided to do my set up on a free and clear Sunday afternoon with minimal distractions around me. Turns out, though, that I didn’t need so much time set aside – it took me exactly 10 minutes to get all my settings straightened away. In fact, it probably would’ve taken closer to 8 minutes if I hadn’t agonized over choosing my background photo for my lock screen! The PDM made the entire setup process extremely intuitive and easy to navigate, much to my relief.
  • The PDM is incredibly high-tech…and, at times, suffers from that. I’ve spent a lot of time marveling over the clean, sleek design of both the touchscreen and the PDM itself. It’s almost identical to my iPhone, which I think is both a pro and a con because I can see myself confusing one for the other in the future (though it’d be extremely obvious which was which once I unlocked the device). The touchscreen and menus are thoughtfully designed, but my big beef with them is twofold: 1) Some menus are totally buried – it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to set a temp basal and 2) Anyone who ever claims to suffer from “fat fingers” or struggles to hit the right buttons 100% of the time on a smartphone might find navigation on the PDM to be a challenge. The good news is that it’s really easy to go back if you’ve mistakenly navigated to a menu that you didn’t need and to correct any accidentally hit buttons, but I could definitely see some users taking issue with the operation of the touchscreen as a whole – even though I personally haven’t found it bothersome.
Shout-out to the Insulet/OmniPod website for providing a much better image of the DASH PDM and pod than I ever could!
  • The pod change process has a new addition to it. DASH users have the option to record the site of their new pods, a feature that I think is pretty neat! I’ve always been pretty good about rotating sites, but having a record of exactly where I’ve placed my pods over time is bound to be helpful so I don’t ever use one particular site too much.
  • Speaking of the pod change process…I almost activated a pod when it wasn’t even on my body yet. I’m used to the pod change process consisting of multiple pages on my PDM that outlines everything step-by-step. The DASH system aims to consolidate things a bit and features more than one step on a page. This was all fine and dandy up until I hit the last step of the process – I touched the button to activate the pod, thinking that I was navigating to the last page in the setup process! This was mostly user error because I should’ve read the screen more carefully, but luckily, I had to hit a “confirm” button in order to actually activate the pod (so there’s basically 2 buttons that have to be hit to activate a pod, not one).
  • So far, I’m unsure how I feel about the rechargeable battery feature. I thought this would be a huge improvement over the old OmniPod, which took 2 AAA batteries, but now I’m having some doubts. Those AAA batteries easily lasted 6 weeks – maybe even longer. Now I’m going to have to recharge the DASH PDM at least once or twice a week, depending on how often I’m actively using it. This is going to be a slight pain, but according to what I’ve read, the PDM is still useable when it’s charging, so that makes it more tolerable. But I’m also thinking from the perspective of someone who is away from home at least a few nights a month – this is going to be just ANOTHER charger that I have to remember to pack every time I go away, which is a bit of a bummer.
  • The system sounds are SO MUCH BETTER!!! OMG, I think the days of OmniPod beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeps are in the past! I haven’t noticed any of those lingering, ear-shattering beeps yet; instead, they seem to have been replaced with a pleasant chiming sound. I’m sure that over time, I’ll grow to hate that sound, too, but for now I’m just loving that I’m not being pestered with pod reminders by those grating beeps!

Like any diabetes device, I knew there would be some faults with the DASH system. But generally speaking, those faults are extremely minor and I’m still thrilled that I’m on this new system…and extremely curious as to how my thoughts and feelings about it will change over time. I’ll be sure to post about my new discoveries and experiences with it in the future!

Sensor Snapping by the Seashore

Sensor snapping by the seashore…try saying that five times fast.

The past several weeks have been so busy that I completely forgot about an incident that occurred when I was away on vacation in July.

An incident that I’d never experienced in my decade of using Dexcom CGMs…

It was the second-to-last day of my trip. I was blissfully soaking up the sun’s rays – it was by far the best beach day of my entire week in Maine. That meant that the sun was strong that day…so strong that I was basically applying sunscreen every hour, on the hour, because I am as pale as Casper the friendly ghost.

During one of my sunscreen applications, I noticed that the Dexcom sensor on the back of my arm was looking a little off. I mean that literally – the transmitter seemed like it was jutting out at a weird angle. Upon further inspection, I realized that the grayish-purple prong that helps keep the transmitter in place was hanging on by a thread. I was pretty surprised to make that discovery, for a few reasons: 1) I didn’t know that could happen, 2) the sensor was only about 24 hours old and nothing went awry during the application process, and 3) I couldn’t remember bumping into anything that would’ve caused a plastic piece to break off my sensor. But the most surprising part was that it was enough to cause my sensor to stop collecting readings altogether – I was getting an error message on my Dexcom app.

My broken sensor prongs and me, sitting on the beach.

I didn’t know what to do other than carefully break the prongs off all the way – they weren’t going to do me any good now – and gingerly press my transmitter down into my sensor for several minutes to see if that did anything…and no dice. I resorted to plan B, which was to wait until I got back to the house I was staying at to do some more research into the matter.

Unfortunately, the internet had nothing helpful to offer me. I was somewhat relieved to know that this has happened to other people, but definitely bummed to learn that there wasn’t a real solution other than to apply a new sensor – which wasn’t an option for me since I had only packed the one sensor for my trip. Whoops. So much for me being the diligent, prepared T1D that I thought I was.

Ultimately, I decided to rip the sensor off and deal with finger stick checks for the rest of my trip; after all, I was going to be returning home the next day. I look at the whole incident as yet another example of why it’s important to pack extras of my extras, and as a reminder to expect the unexpected in life with diabetes!