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[IP] Glucowatch Experience In Depth

I attended a pumper's support group where a rep from Cygnus did a presentation
for the Glucowatch.  He told us that if you buy one, you can get the upgrades
for free (much like software), since they're already working on a third
version, set to come out sometime next year.  The second one that's due to
come out soon will have a warm-up period of 2 hours while the current one has
a 3-hour warm-up period, meaning you'll get more readings from the second one
during the 12-hour period in which you wear it.  The 3rd version will consist
of a patch that you'll be able to wear on any part of your body that will
transmit a signal to another device you wear, similar in size to a pump.  This
would give you more available sites to rotate to (as well as being able to
hide it), since you can only get about 6 on each arm and you have to wait
several days to weeks for the sites to heal before reusing them.  He also told
us the company is handing out the current Glucowatch to doctors FREE for their
patients to try.  So check with your Endo to see if they can get one for you
to try before buying one.  If you like it, you will need to buy it before
being able to get more sensors for it, which you can only get from the
company.  I would also double-check on the upgrade policy, since someone wrote
earlier that the free upgrade would be ending this summer?

I was able to get one from my Endo a couple of months ago.  I was her first
patient to try it, and I'm really glad I got the opportunity before shelling
out the money for one.  At first I was really happy about the idea of having
peace of mind when going to sleep at night (pre-pump).  I wore it on 3
different occasions for 12 hours at a stretch with no skipped or missed
readings, which can happen if you perspire heavily, wear it too tightly, or go
from one temperature extreme to another (like an air-conditioned building to
the outside on a hot day).  Because there is a lag time in the readings (what
you see on the watch is actually your BG of 15-20 minutes ago), you have to
set the alarm to go off at a reading of anywhere from 80-90, so you don't drop
too low by the time you're alerted.

The first night I wore it, I had the alarm set at 80 or 85 and it woke me up 3
times to alert me of lows.  When I tested myself with my meter, I was actually
down in the 40's and 50's, so it served it's purpose well.  However, the alarm
is not that loud and I was able to determine that on one of the alerts, the
alarm must've been going off for a half-an-hour before I woke up!  Because I
wanted to be alerted before going that low, the second night I wore it, I set
the alarm at 90 or 95.  The problem with setting the alarm threshold so high,
though, is that sometimes when it goes off at 90, you're actually in the 80's
or 90's, but you don't know until you do your finger-stick test.  It kept
waking me up every hour (my BG was fine),  so I had to lower the threshold
again so I could get some sleep that night.

On the 3rd occasion, it failed to alert me completely for a severe low while I
was awake.  The reading on the watch said 102, but I knew it wasn't right.  I
was watching TV when I suddenly had all the usual symptoms: sweating, shaking,
fast heartbeat, etc.  When I checked myself, I was actually 44, which means I
dropped 58 points in 20 minutes! (pre-pump)  I corrected the low, and the next
reading to come around on the watch was 107.  Not only did it completely miss
the low, but it didn't even reflect that it happened at all, even by the next
reading (so much for showing trends).  The info that comes with the watch
indicates that there is a certain percentage of time it will do this so you're
warned not to rely on it completely.

The other thing the watch never did for me was alert me to rapid drops or
rises.  The alarm is supposed to sound whenever one reading is a certain
percentage higher or lower than the previous reading.  I had significant
swings where the alarm should've gone off, but didn't.  My CDE remarked on
this when looking at my numbers.  The other negative I found with the watch,
is that it caused me severe skin irritation, which will not happen with all
people.  When I was wearing it, it felt fine.  If you notice a stinging
sensation or "stimulation" when it's on, it usually means it's too tight.
After removing the watch, I had slightly red marks that didn't look or feel
too bad (which they warn you about in the literature), but with each passing
day, the marks got worse.  By the 3rd -4th day, they looked like severe burn
marks with tiny blisters and itched like crazy.  It took so long for the marks
to heal, that 8 weeks later, there are sill slightly visible scars in the 3
different locations on the top of my arms where I wore the watch.  Now that
I'm on the pump, I'm curious to see the trends in my numbers, especially to
fine-tune my basal rates, but because of the scarring, I don't think it's
worth it.

Lengthy answer I know, but I hope this helps some of you in making a decision,
since most insurance companies still aren't paying for it.  And for those of
you with children, unless you're sleeping in the bed with them, you might not
hear the alarm at all.  If you do, you'll still have to finger-stick test to

Diagnosed 5 months ago, pumping for 2 weeks now.
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