I want to start this off by saying how incredibly grateful I am to have had access to a Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor) over the last couple of years. It is an absolute game-changer for diabetes management and allows me to have more peace of mind about my day-to-day activities, as well as putting my head to the pillow for sleep at night. That being said, interruptions in access to that technology can be incredibly frustrating, and in some cases, causes me to handle situations differently knowing that I'll be "driving blind". Here is a story about one such interruption:
Over the last couple of weeks, I had been receiving the warning that my current G5 transmitter (the gray reusable piece that snaps into the sensor pod) would soon be at the end of its 3-month lifespan. I carefully watched my graphs, saw the smooth waves turn into a scatter plot, and knew that the end of that data would be coming shortly. Finally, the transmitter stopped transmitting and it was time to put in the second of the 3-month transmitters that had been shipped to me a few months ago. I inserted a fresh sensor, shellacked it to my body with Skin Tac, and followed the directions for pairing a new transmitter. I'll spare you the boring details but I'll just say: it did not work. It didn't work on the receiver and it didn't work on the G5 mobile app. I did some troubleshooting on my own, but when the situation didn't resolve, I brought in the reinforcements.
I called Dexcom support. Shout-out to our diabetes device companies who staff 24/7 customer care for situations like this one. The gentleman I spoke to was somewhat abrupt with me, but I took his advice to focus on re-pairing the receiver (as opposed to the phone app) and watched for the 30 minute pairing period to complete. It did not work.
So I called Dexcom support (again). The second gentleman I spoke to was friendlier and seemed more motivated to assist. We went over my solo attempts, my last phone call to support and the steps I took per those directions, and the fact that nothing was working, still. He acknowledged my frustration and we tried some new strategies for resolution. If, after 30 more minutes, the transmitter wasn't paired, he instructed me to call back for another round of troubleshooting. We hung up and I waited 30 minutes...for nothing to happen.
So I called Dexcom support (again). This time my call was answered by a woman. She also seemed motivated to assist and told me that we WOULD be resolving this issue, one way or another. I appreciated her determination and started to believe that we would get it done. We took a different approach to cueing the Bluetooth connection, first one device and then the other. Nothing. Then there was the suggestion that I remove the fresh, carefully placed sensor I had coated in sticky solution to ensure that it would survive for days ahead, in order to be sure that the wire had indeed been connected to the sensor.
I began to pull at the sensor. OW. I started digging around in my supplies looking for a sample of Tac Away to help ease the process and found a half-dried packet to get it going. The sensor came off, wire in tow. Now we knew it wasn't the sensor. I put on a new sensor and we set out on another battery of tests to see if we could get the transmitter to pair.
Next up, we tried shutting down and restarting the receiver. When the receiver came back on, it stayed stuck in the set up mode and displayed an error message. Hit it with the hard reset (a paperclip in the teeny hole on the back of the receiver) then received another error. My Dexcom support rep confirmed the receiver was now dead. For anyone keeping score, that's two failed sensors and a dead receiver.
There was one more thing for us to try. As my rep documented our steps up until then, I took the opportunity to voice my displeasure (disgust? disappointment?) with the way that Dexcom is complying with the Medicare ruling on CGM in the way that nullifies seniors' ability to utilize the remote monitoring feature that helps ensure their safety. She thanked me for making my opinion known and made the comment that the remote monitoring feature protects CGM users of all ages. Of course, I wholeheartedly agreed with her. I asked her if she was a type 1 too, since she felt so strongly about it (and she had been so friendly and helpful throughout this entire process, over hours and several phone calls at this point). She answered no, but then she also shared that she lost her sibling to T1D. The clear connection that she drew between the importance of being able to have family looking out for you via the Share app and optimizing life with diabetes was simple, yet spoke volumes to me. She shared that both herself and another family member work for Dexcom--they make the choice, every day, to work for a company with a great product that saves lives in an acute and long-term sense.
We came back to the issue at hand. With one more chance at making the transmitter pair, she left me with another 30 minutes to see if we would succeed while she took her break. True to her word, she called me upon her return. Unfortunately, the transmitter was not found, so she arranged the sensors, receiver, and transmitter to be shipped overnight. Problem solved, kind of.
As promised, I received the replacements and was able to get back on the CGM routine. The experience was a reminder of how easy it is for technology to fail at a moment's notice, how much easier life is when it doesn't fail at all, but also that at the root of good customer care from a diabetes company is just that--caring. My best diabetes customer care experiences have come from people who understand how important their job is to someone like me, because they care about me as a patient and person and have an understanding of the importance of the outcome of our interaction.