I'm still using the Paradigm REAL-Time system, although I've switched from my clear 722 to a charcoal 522.
I still love continuous monitoring.
I still very, very lucky to have the opportunity to use it everyday.
Yes, I agree it has its problems an it can only get better.
Personally, I have very few issues with accuracy and even at the times when the numbers are not right on, I have never seen a trend be wrong. Since this thing is all about treating the trend, that is more than good enough for me.
And yes, it is expensive. I didn't have to purchase my own hardware, but I do self-fund my sensors. If I was using one every three days that would be more than I could manage. But I'm not. I now routinely use each sensor for two whole weeks. When I remove them there is little more than a tiny red bump on my skin.
I've personally managed to avoid alarm burnout too. I use tighter or looser alarm thresholds depending on the circumstances I'm in and I even turn the alarms off completely from time to time. At first sight, the ability to do this may seem strange, but if you're not sure ask a Dexcom user. There is a fixed on low alarm on the Dexcom, and a funky sensor can lead to no end of lost sleep. I also defend this feature since, after all, the original CGMS collected data for three days that you couldn't even see until afterward, nevermind have alarms for, and yet that was still a very useful tool.
And the Paradigm system is getting better: The MiniLink.
It actually arrived a couple of months ago, during my blogging hiatus. But this little critter is just too cool to go totally unblogged.
Because this thing is truly tiny:
Especially when compared to the original Gen 1 Transmitter, which not only has the wire to connect to the sensor, but is also considerably thicker than the MiniLink.
It isn't without it's drawbacks though, the biggest one being its lack of flexibility. The wire on the original was irritating, but at least it meant that once the sensor was in, you had some choice about where exactly you stuck the rest of its bulk. With the MiniLink once the sensor is in, there is only one position for it to go, dictated by the sensor position. If you end up with the MiniLink digging into you every time you bend forwards, or showing trough your favourite outfit, there is no way to change it without having to trash the (expensive) sensor.
Also - notice the dressing over the sensor and MiniLink in the pictures. Medtronic have advertised the MiniLink as being adhesive free. For all those of us who suffered extreme irritation from the adhesive patches used to hold the old transmitter in place, this was a great selling point. Sadly, it's a no go. The MiniLink itself can easily get caught, pulling the sensor out with it. And if you want to extend your sensor life, the little bit of adhesive on the sensor itself isn't going to hold all that long, especially with bathing and swimming. Originally I had trouble covering the MiniLink with just one IV3000, but I've since learned that a diagonal angulation does the trick, which is a plus.
Two other things I've learned about the Paradigm system:
1. You can get around the day seven "Lost Sensor" alarm.
With the (original) Guardian RT, you could continue restarting the new sensor every three days for as long as you wanted. Well within reason. The only drawback was that you had to wait for a 2 hour initialisation every three days. When I moved on to the Paradigm REAL-Time it was great not to have this. Just select new sensor and be good to go again in fifteen minutes.
Until day seven, that is.
Without fail, a "Weak Signal" alarm, followed by a "Lost Sensor" alarm will occur on day seven, and no amount of restarting will get it to go again.
For several months I continued under the misapprehension that you couldn't get around this; that Medtronic had somehow built in this feature to stop sensors being extended beyond seven days, and so improve their revenue from sensor sales.
Oh cynical me.
Turns out if you just disconnect the sensor from the transmitter/MiniLink and reconnect, you can go on for another seven days, albeit with that two hour initialisation period.
Sadly, this is another drawback of the MiniLink. It won't reconnect to the sensor at day seven if it isn't charged. Charging is remarkably quick. You plug it in to a little blue pod that holds a AAA battery and within 10 minutes or so, the charge is complete. The drawback is if your sensor end occurs when you are miles from your charger.
Just another bit of kit I now carry pretty much everywhere!
2. You can get going again even quicker at the day 3 and day 6 restarts
Initially, when I restated the sensor at day three, I would wait patiently for it to ask me for a calibration meter reading. This itself could take five - ten minutes and data readings followed 15 minutes later. The typical gap in data was 15-25 minutes.
One evening, after restarting, I realised I had not been asked for meter reading. When I checked the screen I saw that data had been coming through for a while. It then dawned on me that I had sent a calibration reading to the sensor a few minutes before it ended, having forgotten its time was due. The system had used that calibration and had skipped just a single data point.
Obviously you can't always get a number in just before sensor end, but what you can do is input a number immediately after restarting. You'll get an on-screen message saying the sensor isn't ready and the value won't be used, but ignore it, it's lying!
I now typically have just 3 missing data points at restart, and don't have to hang around waiting to be asked for that number.
You can probably guess, I won't be giving up my Paradigm REAL-Time anytime soon.