Friday, September 21, 2007


So on Saturday I'm in the kitchen, trying to clean up the mess of us being a virtual single-parent family for a week, when Number One Son walks in.

"Mommy! Are you still radioactive?"

"No," I say, and he runs over and gives me a big hug. Now Number One Son just turned 13, and hugs really aren't his thing, so I hug back happily, glad for a bit of spontaneous cuddling.

Then he backs up, grabs his neck, and gasps, "Ahh! My thyroid!"


Thursday, September 13, 2007


Because the first attempt to kill off my thyroid with radioactive iodine didn’t work.

Because it was an abyssimal failure as a playroom (As in I didn’t make the mess in here, Mom! times three).

Because that honking huge bed from my in-laws needed the proper room to set it off.

Because I’ve always wanted a window seat to read in.

Because we need more than one spare bed when out of town friends and family visit.

Because my BG never seems to do as well as when I’m coating myself in sawdust, dirt, or spackle.

Because my dad didn’t mind me borrowing all his power tools for months at a time.

Because if a hyperactive thyroid is giving me all this extra energy, I may as well put it to good use.

Because if I’m spending my second week of the year shut away in a room, I might as well enjoy being there.

Because when you don’t normally do caffeine, starting the weekends with an espresso makes you really productive.

Because if I do develop superpowers this time, I’m going to need a really cool secret hideout.

Because as a guest room it was just a place to collect clutter.

Because my husband got the basement for his playroom.

Because neat wall painting always escapes me, but I can make messy look pretty darn good.

Because if I’ve got a spare bedroom, I can do what I like with it.

Because our cat looks really good curled up on a window seat. (Don’t worry, he is not allowed in while I’m radioactive).

Because I’ve been a castle freak my whole life.

Because all three boys think it’s the coolest sleepover room ever.

Because it will probably always be a work in progress, but I wanted a fun work in progress.

Because that cute boy from high school English class, to whom I’ve been married for the past nineteen years, has many great qualities but is not an actual prince. (Though I hear real princes are pretty high maintenance, anyways).

Because Number One Son and his friends really like it as a place for playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Because last time I was locked in here, I got to play around with my sewing machine for a week.

Because I’ve collected really weird souvenirs over the years and needed a place to display them.

Because my elliptical really does look like a medieval implement of torture.

Because we always have more books than shelves to hold them.

Because barring a winning lottery ticket, I’ll never afford to live in a real castle.

Because if I made the whole house look like this, people would think I’m really weird, but one room practically makes me a medieval Martha Stewart.

Because if I’m spending a week locked away in a tower, it should look like I’m locked away in a tower.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So What's Not to Like?

I said I would post more about using the new Guardian instead of my Dexcom Seven. Here it is.

I would say the “honeymoon” with this device is over. I had originally thought that by setting the low threshhold to 100, I could bypass the Guardian’s rather crappy performance on lows. So I have. And most of the time that is OK, I get a low warning that I am 100 or 95, and test and see that I am really in the 70s, so I treat if it’s dropping and forget about it. But that doesn’t always work. Today, for example, I was working and my “Low Predicted” alarm went off. It said I was 120 with one arrow down. I tested and got a 60. Quite the difference there.

Still, though, it caught it. So that’s not the most annoying thing.

The most annoying thing is when a sensor just flakes out and your readings either launch skyward or drop like a rock. Sure, my Dex has done this a handful of times in the 15 months I have had either the STS or the Seven. But I have been using the guardian a little over two weeks and it has happened 3 times.

The first time I was at work. It was the middle of the morning and I had been drifting down after breakfast when I suddenly got a predicted high warning at 170. I tested and was 125. A few minutes later Guardian said I was 190. Then 225, then 300 in the next half hour. I tested again. 122. I entered this value on the Guardian, which by now had me in 400+ range, and promptly got a CAL ERROR and a request for a new reading. Now, when Guardian thinks you have a CAL ERROR and asks for another reading, it doesn’t really mean it. If you give it that second reading you’re begging for a second cal error and a bad sensor. So instead you wait for your BG to level out if it was weird, and don’t give it a new reading for an hour or so.

So I waited. And waited. Ate lunch, went for a walk, tested two hours after lunch and was 170. OK, let’s tell Guardian. Cal Error. Bad Sensor. Since I’m in a study, I can’t just restart, I do need to change the sensor. Which is at home in the fridge. Big PITA.

The second time, I was in bed. It was not quite one in the morning, and I got a predicted low warning. I tested and was 130, right where I want to be at night. A few minutes later a high warning. Then a predicted high warning, then a bunch more high warnings and assorted beeps. I was never over 160 on the meter and pretty level. Again I tried a sync up, and got a cal error. Now it was also beeping for a “Meter BG Now” that I wasn’t going to give it. Needless to say, after that first alarm, I never fully got back to sleep. At 5:15 I finally got out of bed, flung the damn receiver into the closet and shut the door. I could still hear its muffled complaints in my 30 minutes of sleep before morning. I had to call in sick to work that day because I just couldn’t function.

At 9am I let Guardian out of his prison and let him Find Lost Sensor. He happily chugged along for the rest of the time with no problems.

Then a few days ago it happened again. Only this time Guardian thought I was low. I was 156. After an hour or so of bogus below-40 readings, that I refused to dignify by trying to sync up again, I locked Guardian in his closet and went downstairs. Several hours later he was paroled and again behaved himself.

So now I’m thinking that clunky software and carrying a goddam potato clipped to my belt might be a small price to pay for actually getting to use the darn sensor when I want to. If I’m at work when Guardian flakes out, how do I get him out of range for long enough to smack some sense into him? Ask a friend to keep an annoying beeping or vibrating device in their office for a few hours? Put him inside some kind of Faraday cage to block out the signals? Leave him in the ladies room with a “please don’t steal me” post-it note? Or just give up and go back to Dex, who flakes out every few months not every few days.

I’m done with this study in a week and a half. I find now that I’m looking forward to my old clunky but reliable Dex.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A new CGMS study

Note - I wrote this post overa week ago and hadn't gotten around to downloading the pictures to go with it...

Yes, just a few weeks after upgrading to the Dexcom Seven, I am participating in yet another CGMS study, this one using the Minimed Guardian system. Unfortunately my Dex was in a Day 11 fade-out when I got the new system, so I don’t have a good comparision, but I may try to put a new Dex 7 sensor in at the same time I put in my last sensor for the study.

In the meantime, here’s some comparison pix (please excuse the quality I’m not at my best first thing in the morning):

The sensors (side view, I know they look a bit beat up – sorry) Yes, the Minimed really is that much thicker)

With transmitters

Transmitters again


Now, having been completely exasperated with the MM product in the first study I did, I’m going to revisit some of my original concerns.

Accuracy at BG readings under 100: I still feel the Dex is more accurate here; but I currently set my low threshhold on the Guardian to 100, meaning that it sets off the “predicted low” alarm when I’m around 85 in real life. So, it’s something I can work around.

Features – by this I mean how much can you customize the alarms. The Guardian wins hands down, having not only a “crossing threshhold” alarm, but alarms for impending highs or lows, and for rapid rise or fall rates, as well as a “snooze” feature (meaning beep again in 20 minutes if I’m still low, or 2 hours if I’m still high), and a regular alarm clock feature. Everything is configurable. Dex only allows you to set the low and high alarm threshholds.

Software – OK, I don’t actually get to use the software until the download at the end of the month, but I was able to look it over at the doctors office, and it is much better than the Seven’s reporting software.

Added bulk – I had been resigned to the Dexcom’s big bulky oval, but didn’t realize what I was missing until I have the Guardian’s reciever, which is basically a minimed pump with the pump guts taken out. Very easy to slip into a pocket, while the Dex reciever is too large to do much except clip on a belt.

So now, having lived with Dex for over a year, I’m starting to think about more than just the accuracy. I mean, I can easily work around the Guardian’s flaw by setting my “low” level to 100. But how to you work around lame software, limited configurability, and the bulky receiver? Next year when my pump goes out of warrantee it might be worth it to go for the all-in-one system. I’m tempted.
Dexcom, are you listening?
Next post - I remember what irritated me so much about MM in the first place....