And so the day has come. I have called an end to 12 days of loyal service from my first Medtronic Enlite CGM sensor. How was it for me? Well…
Overall it was very good. I’ve no real complaints. It seems a good bit of kit that’s an improvement on the old sensors. Not a life changing, swinging from the lampshades, best thing in the world ever improvement, but a good step forward.
Let’s start at the beginning with insertion. This is much improved. It still fires in with a fair amount of force but – I suspect due to the finer, more polished needle – it really doesn’t hurt. It’s still a surprise when it goes in, as it is when anyone fires a bit of metal into your body at speed, but it’s not a painful surprise. I don’t have the patience to talk you through the whole insertion process, but if you want to see an animated model inserting the Enlite into his beautifully toned, hair free stomach – take a look here, it’s an accurate representation of what I did.
It did feel like 3 hands would have been useful at times as the insertion process and associated stickies were a bit fiddly at times. With the old sensors I was pretty adept at putting them into my back, but I think it’ll be a while before I attempt that with the Enlite, I need to be 100% happy with the process first. I think a bit of practice will sort this out.
I was a little disappointed that the packaging is bigger than with the previous sensors. In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty insignificant whinge, but when you’re trying to fit two weeks worth of infusion sets and sensors plus spares in to a bag, it’s a pain. Then every extra centimeter of packaging counts, and they’ve certainly added a few centimeters. I know there are scientists out there who have dedicated decades of their careers to making this wonderful tech, and I also know it’s bigger to accomodate the plastic bit that now hides the previously scary insertion needle, but as a trend, stuff should be getting smaller, not bigger.
The sensor goes in vertically, like a Quickset, which means there’s no more faffing around like there was with the old ones trying to get the exact angle correct, you just whack it in. That’s good. The insertion process felt a bit longer than with the old ones but I think that was because it was new and I wasn’t used to it. A couple more weeks and it’ll be second nature.
The sensors use the same Minilink transmitter, and now come with a sticky bit to secure that to the body. It did seem pretty robust, but I don’t like having any part of the transmitter exposed to catch things on, so I stuck my usual bit of sticky tape over the whole lot anyway.
Once you’re all connected, there’s still the usual 2 hour start up time (although rumour has it this is due to the programming in the Veo pump rather than the sensor, if allowed the sensor would be up and running straight away – I’ve asked for confirmation of that from Medtronic and am awaiting a response). After that 2 hours, it needs calibrating with a blood test. Previously you had to calibrate at that 2 hour point, then again after 6 hours. This one doesn’t require another calibration for 12 hours.
The big question is of course, is it more accurate? The stats say it is. Medtronic reckon its 17% better overall and 26% better when it comes to low blood sugars. That is of course pretty meaningless if you’re a 6 and it says you’re a 10, so in the real world is it actually any better? I’m reluctant to judge it based on one sensor, but yes, it did seem more accurate.
With the old sensors, if they said I was 3.5, I’d usually find I was in the 2’s. When the new one said I was 2.8, I was actually 2.6 so pretty damn close. Equally with highs, it tracked me more accurately all the way up to 16.8 and back again, better than the old sensors. Obviously these extremes of blood sugars were deliberate in order to test the sensor, they in no way reflect insulin/carb errors by the user.
When I had normal control, the readings were more accurate than with the old sensors. The lag between sensor readings and meter readings seems less than the old 20mins. I had very few accuracy issues with the old sensors and had been using them for so long I tended to know when to expect issues, so I wasn’t expecting massive improvements. However, I am impressed in that it does seem more accurate, even for me. I’d be interested to know what difference the new sensors make for people who struggled with accuracy with the previous sensors.
The Enlite is registered for use for 6 days. On day 6 I turned off the sensor on the pump, disconnected the transmitter, recharged it for 20mins then reconnected to the sensor and started it up again on the pump. It picked up the sensor after the 2 hour warm up, I calibrated it and I was off and running for another 6 days. The sensor was still working perfectly at 12 days, but I pulled it because I don’t like leaving stuff in my body for much longer than that.
Overall, it seems a good step forward with the whole CGM malarkey, of which I am a huge fan.