Device failures.

I’ve nearly had enough.

The past few weeks have been full of diabetes device failures, and I’m actually asking myself how much more I can take.

Dexcom sensor failures are frustrating me more than I can express here. Since January, roughly one out of every two sensors fail without working more than a day, or ever working at all. I mean, how long do you put up with that kind of unreliability before you chuck it into a box and give up?

And believe me, I’m doing the insertions exactly the way I’m supposed to. Every time I do an insertion, I’m still going back to the online tutorial to make sure I’m not missing anything. The failed CGM sensors have definitely become my biggest diabetes nightmare.

I’ve even stopped contacting Dexcom support about it. The calls are all the same: the support person goes through their script so they can cover everything they need to cover… I get that. Usually, after about half an hour on the phone, they agree to send me a new sensor. But… how much is the sensor, and what is my time worth? In addition, I’ve had to replace a transmitter and a receiver too. In a little over five months. It’s quickly becoming not worth it.

But my pump issues are still there too. I have an Animas Vibe pump where a 200 unit limit to my reservoir isn’t really an issue. But it’s not really 200 units. Because once the pump says the reservoir is at 0 units, the pump stops… even though there are usually around 20 units left in the reservoir. So, something that could last 3 ½ days (for me) winds up lasting barely 3 days, if I don’t have other issues. Why do I have to waste 20 units of insulin every few days?

Which I almost always do, because my Medtronic infusion sets can’t seem to go more than 2 to 2 ½ days before they just don’t want to work as well anymore. At that point, I still seem to get insulin, but instead of hovering between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL, I suddenly go up to 220 to 320. So I have to bolus huge amounts of insulin to try to bring my glucose level down. When I change out the set my BGs go immediately down to a reasonable level again. Why can’t an infusion set be made well enough to last the FDA-mandated three day limit? Or greater?

These are all issues that I did not experience in the five years I was managing diabetes through my previous pump and no CGM. Let me put it another way: my A1c is climbing, due only to medical device failures. This leaves me asking even more questions. Like:

Why can’t device makers make something that is simple, and not as susceptible to breakdowns?

I understand the all-consuming need to develop the next special product with all the bells and whistles, but… why can’t there be a simple option that I can use? My previous pump seemed to do everything I needed it to do. Why can’t I just choose a new version of that?

I actually like my Dexcom when it works… why can’t it work more often, with fewer breakdowns of the individual parts?

I hate to pick on individual companies. But the truth is, if these were cars, I would probably choose not to drive as opposed to breaking down on the side of the road every few days.

Granted, there still aren’t many (in a trending sense) people who are managing their diabetes through pumps and CGMs. But I don’t think that should be a reason for me to settle for inferior products. It certainly isn’t a reason for me to continue to pay for said products without noting where they are coming up short.

And without saying that maybe some device companies need to go back and make their current products as reliable as they can before devoting resources toward the Next Big Thing.

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  • Lucia Maya  On June 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I can completely relate to the infusion set issue. I have the same exact problem, and am now using the Sure-t set with the metal needle. I can simply pull it out and move it after 2 days, and then usually get another 2 good days from a new site.

    The sensor issue is baffling and must be so frustrating! I’ve been using the Dexcom for years and very rarely had a sensor fail. Have you tried posting in some forums to see if anyone else has had the same issues, and found a solution? Other PWD tend to be better at this than the companies are!
    Where are you placing it? Have you had good/better results anywhere?
    Hope you have a better week!
    PS I really enjoy your blog, thanks!


  • Jenny Edge  On June 16, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Consumer Affairs perhaps.Your purchases have not given you what you have purchased .Good luck .AND IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT .


  • Chris  On June 16, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Been there. Completely share the frustration. They need to do better.


  • Kim  On June 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Beyond Frustrating! My son tried all the latest and greatest technology – very poor experience. Went back to simple approach – low carb diet, finger sticks and mdi with pens. No problems ever – consistently 90-120 blood sugars and 5.1 a1c.
    Good luck finding what works for you! Sometimes simple is better.


  • Rick Phillips  On June 16, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    I had an ugly situation this past week as well. Mine was a sensor (these are like gold) that started to bleed and would not stop (blood thinners). I would like to say it was someone’s fault, but I am sure it is mine in some way. The good news I only had one fail this week. The bad news, I am almost out and can not get more until June 26. I fele like Kramer test driving the car on empty.


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