Sensors and Censors


Anger is an interesting emotion. It heightens your senses, it gives you a physical reaction. It’s powerful. It can spur you to take action- for better or worse.

I’ve been feeling a lot of anger lately. But this anger feels different. I’ve been struggling to figure out what I can do with this anger, how I can channel it into something productive. Something that can solve the problem so there are less angry situations, something that will make me feel at ease. But what makes this anger different is that I feel completely trapped in the situation. It’s a situation with limited options to make it better, options that while might temper the anger, will have other negative consequences, potentially even to my health. I weigh these pros and cons and I feel a sense of helplessness.

With my new pump, I’ve been using new sensors. These sensors are what the pump relies on for blood sugar numbers to make decisions to give more or less insulin. They are what the defining feature of this pump is dependent on. These sensors are supposed to last 7 full days. This was already a disappointment as the sensors I was using before often lasted 10-14 days. In reality though, these sensors are lasting around 5 days on average before a new one needs to be inserted. And after day 4, for the rare ones that do last longer, they are becoming less accurate and need more calibrations. They end up waking me in the middle of the night when the calibration only lasts 6 hours instead of 12.

changesensorYesterday, after wearing the sensor for 3 days, I got a message that the sensor was updating and then a message that said, “Change sensor. Sensor not working properly insert new sensor.” In that moment I was furious. I screamed obscenities in my head at my sensor and texted my boyfriend the picture of that screen with 10 emojis of the middle finger and angry faces.

So what’s the big deal changing a few days early?

  1. It’s disruptive. It means the pump isn’t working to its full potential. It means until I change the sensor, I don’t have information about my blood sugar without poking my finger. So now I’m having to poke my finger more, I’m missing the data I rely on, and I’ll have to wait up to 2 hours for it to start again.
  2. It’s a pain, literally. Sometimes the insertion hurts, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like doing things that hurt more often than necessary.
  3. It’s expensive. The faster you run through them, the sooner you have to order more. And they are not cheap.
  4. It wastes time. Medtronic will replace many of the sensors, especially ones that stop working after only a few days. But this could mean being on the phone for anywhere between 20-45 minutes with the person. Then having to wait while they ship a new sensor out.
  5. It’s supposed to work! Forgive me for thinking that the expensive medical device that I use is supposed to be reliable and consistent and accurate and cause less hassles, not more.

I understand that this particular pump is new, and by being one of the earlier people to get it, that there may still be kinks that they’re working out. But I also still feel like my anger is valid. So when I see that screen that tells me to change my sensor days before I should be, I get angry. But I also feel stuck because I made the decision to switch to this pump. And this is the reality. Can I get a different pump? Maybe? Might be a hard sell to my insurance who only covers new pumps every 3-5 years. Do I really want a different pump? I don’t know. When it’s working, the pump is great and truly is cutting edge.

So I’m stuck with a strong emotion that I don’t know how to productively channel. I’m pretty sure yelling F*** every time it happens doesn’t count. So what am I doing, what can I do about it? I’m speaking up. I’m telling my doctors what I’m experiencing, I’m blogging and telling you about it. I’m telling my Medtronic trainer. I’m telling anyone who asks me about the pump and is considering switching themselves. If improvements are going to be made, the company needs to know what’s not working. If people are going to switch to this pump (which I still encourage for all the benefits it does bring), I think they should be informed about the downsides too and have realistic expectations.

And until improvements are made, I’ll deal with my anger. And be thankful that I work from home when that involuntary “F***!” sneaks out after another sensor fails.

6 thoughts on “Sensors and Censors

  1. Absolutely know what your feeling. After a one-day sensor and today 45 minutes talking to Medtronic support I can’t tell you the expletives my wife and I are ready to yell. In the end the support person told us that he couldn’t help us anymore. He said they are too busy to look at his history as a group and figure the root cause and there isn’t anyone to escalate too.

    We had the same thoughts about switching pumps and the insurance. Tomorrow we talk to our trainer.

    Getting the word out and constantly reporting problems to Medtronic may be the only way to influence and speed any changes.

    Hang in there, your not alone. 😉


  2. I have TSlim. Everytime I have a failure or need to this or that I get pissed off too. Your anger is totally valid. It really is a disruption and annoying at 2am to have to change your sensor. Better yet, realizing you have to change it due to high blood sugar numbers (a kink in the tube or something gone wrong). Nondiabetics don’t know what we deal with in terms of technology. Good post!


  3. it’s your #5 item! i was on a Dexcom CGM and LOVED IT!!! my A1C was coming down, the readings were much more accurate than any Medtronic sensor. incredibly easy to insert, calibration was soooooo easy and fast, had a phone app, etc. no crazy alarms continually. but i switched to the 670 pump with the Guardian sensors for the Auto mode. i could go on and on about my experience, but it’s the same as yours….

    KEEP UP THE COMPLAINING!!!! they have to listen at some point, right????


  4. I agree with you-on all of your comments. The sad part is that I am om Medicare—so I am stuck with this pump. Then to add insult to injury, prior to purchase the Medtronic’s staff advised me that no sensors are covered by Medicare. False, my understanding is that Medicare agreed to cover some of the Dexcom product as of 2017,with a start date soon. To bad,I wasn’t informed completely and only part of the information given.


  5. Pingback: Tears of Joy | Type ONEderful

  6. I have the 670-G for 3 years now, I installed a new sensor wait the two hours the alarm tells me to calibrate which I do and an hour or two the change sensor pops up. I’m ready to take a sledge hammer to this thing. Tried new sensor battery charged with new AAA battery. I called support 3 sensors later doing the same thing.Everyone is stumped so any help or advice would be nice.


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