This morning, I was awakened at 7:10 by my iPhone. It wasn’t my alarm clock; it wasn’t a text. It was my Dexcom Follow app telling me my son’s BG had been under 90 mg/dL for 30 minutes and he needed to treat his low blood glucose levels.
The Dexcom is a Continuous Glucose Monitor that operates by inserting a wire-like sensor under the skin to detect BG levels. It sends a BG reading to a wireless receiver every five minutes. Share is a new program that enables the Dexcom receiver to send the BG readings to an iPhone via Bluetooth. The wearer’s iPhone runs the Dexcom Share app which sends the readings to iCloud, and my app, Dexcom Follow, grabs those readings 24/7. The Follow app comes with two alarm settings–one alerts after the main user’s BG is under a certain number for more than 30 minutes, and the other, an emergency alarm, alerts immediately when the BG falls below a certain number. The defaults for each are 70mg/dL and 55mg/dL, but I changed my settings to higher numbers for peace of mind.
The alarm this morning demonstrates why I LOVE the new Share program. My son does not wake when his BG is low, nor does he hear the alarm on his Dexcom, which is set to alert at night as soon as he goes below 90mg/dL. I am able to sleep soundly knowing that my phone app will sound an alarm if my son is not treating his low BG. So far, the app has alarmed twice–this morning and last weekend when my son was at a sleep over (his first since diagnosis in 2013!). On that occasion, I telephoned the host’s parents (at 5:30 AM 😒) and they woke my son and gave him juice. Both times, Share intervened before my son dropped to dangerously low BG levels. Medical technology at its best!
The app has operated without a hitch for the most part. When we first started using Share three weeks ago, there were a few times when iCloud or Follow lost the readings, but that issue seems to have been addressed with the most recent system upgrade (note this was not an app upgrade, but a service upgrade that resulted in Share being down for several hours during the day). We received notification via email that the service would be down for six hours two days before it happened. At first I was annoyed the upgrade was happening during the day, until I remembered that the real value for users and their followers is probably at night, so yeah…thanks for being on top of it, Dexcom! The upgrade took less than the anticipated 6hours and service resumed without us having to do anything.
The other issues we’ve encountered have been primarily with the Dexcom, not Share, and my son’s youth. BGs in children can drop quickly, really quickly, like 5+mg/dL per minute. The Dexcom can detect readings dropping 3+mg/dL but it really cannot keep up with faster drop rates. So when my son is dropping 30 points in five minutes, the Dexcom loses accuracy. Dexcom is aware of this, but there’s not much to be done until the technology improves. In fact, every time we insert a new sensor (every week), our new receiver that supports Share flashes a warning that in Pediatric trials, Dexcom caught fewer than half the low BGs. This is why we’ve set alarms at higher numbers, and it seems to work for us. The Dexcom catches more of my son’s lows than it misses–though it does miss lows weekly–but it is still worth it, especially now that Share is available.
Pricing for Share varies based on insurance. If you are getting a Dexcom for the first time, the receiver that supports Share is included and will set you back a bit over $1000 plus the cost of the transmitter and receivers. The entire package is close to $5,000 but most insurance companies will cover a portion. After insurance, we paid a little over $800 for the receiver (prior to release of Share), the transmitter, and a three month supply of sensors when we first got the Dexcom a year ago. When we upgraded to the receiver with Share last month, we were eligible for a reduced price of $199–this was not covered by insurance, which will replace a receiver once every 3-4 years only. If you want to upgrade your old receiver, watch the Dexcom website for special promotional offers through the summer.
Note this is an unsponsored, unsolicited review.