I’m on month 6 or 7 with my MiniMed Continuous Glucose Monitor, and I have to say, the thing’s grown on me. Mostly.
Like a lot of CGMers, my hopes might have been a little too high when I embarked on this new adventure. I expected more accuracy, longer sensor life (I can’t get more than 6 days out of mine), smaller needles, and more comfortable tape. I also expected my insurance company to help me pay for them without sucking my soul out, but that’s another story.
When I went to the first CGM training session, the Diabetes Educator who taught us made one thing perfectly clear: that we were not to rely on our sensors for diagnostic information. Instead, we’d be best served by using those little digitized graphs to identify trends in our blood sugar levels. For example, I’d upload all of my information with the handy-dandy CareLink drive, look back at a printed graph of 3 weeks worth of blood sugars, and realize that my levels were spiking around 2 a.m., and adjust my basal rates accordingly.
It hasn’t exactly been working that way. Yes, I love having an update on the general state of my blood sugar levels every 5 minutes. In fact, the information’s almost addictive. I can’t believe I went 19 years without having so much access to my daily ups and downs. Unfortunately, I can’t reflect on printed graphs of blood sugar history. I can’t see more than 24 hours worth of information at a time. And, unlike a lot of things that influence my blood sugar control, this one is totally NOT MY FAULT.
Sure, the good folks at MiniMed are fully capable of building these cell phone-sized machines that keep us alive through the precise and periodic delivery of minute amounts of insulin. But can they make their CareLink software compatible with Macs or Windows 7? Of course not. The disclaimer on their site says so: CareLink is not currently compatible with Windows Vista 64-bit, Windows 7 or Macintosh operating systems.
I used to use my husband’s work computer as a work-around. It was a PC laptop, and he’d bring it home and we’d upload all the data and pore over the minutia of my daily diabetic life. But he got a new computer — with Windows 7 — a few months ago, and both my work and home computer are Macs. I know there are a few time-consuming and expensive ways to get around this problem, but I haven’t found one that works for me. My husband called MiniMed for help, and — get this — they suggested I head to the local public library to upload. Too bad I don’t have the authority to install the plug-ins that are necessary to use CareLink on the Jacksonville Public Library’s PCs. Even if I were to drop a thousand bucks on a new PC, the Windows 7 would render it incompatible with the CareLink. I don’t know what to do; I’m just pissed that I can’t use this very expensive piece of equipment in the way that MiniMed says I should.
Part of me feels spoiled. I mean, it was only a few short decades ago that we were testing our pee for sugar content and waiting 10 minutes for blood sugar results, right? Shouldn’t I be content with the incredible amount of information all these newfangled devices offer? I’m not.
I’m tired of feeling like I’m at the mercy of One Touch and MiniMed my insurance company and Nestlé — and hell, even the alcohol swab manufacturers, whoever they are — when it comes to taking the best care of myself that I possibly can. Doesn’t it seem like part of MiniMed’s responsibility to help me gain access to my own information — especially when they use it as the main selling point for their CGMs? And here’s an even bigger question: What are they going to do when more MiniMed users make the switch to Windows 7 or Macs, not realizing that an upgrade in software means a downgrade in their own disease management?
Until they answer it, I’ll be sitting here with this $700 sensor taped to my left arm, soaking up information as I can get it.