“10-day hard stop on G6 sensors.” – love, Dexcom
Did that one thing alone stop you from considering the G6? Well, good news…you can actually restart the sensors (and the transmitter).
There are four ways to restart a G6 sensor, listed below from easiest to hardest. (Technically, Options 1 and 2 (and to a lesser degree Option 3) are so much easier than Option 4…that it’s almost not worth mentioning Option 4)
- Use the G6 receiver to restart
- Use the phone to restart (without receiver)
- Use the resetTransmitter app
- Remove the transmitter from the sensor
Let me just get this out there early (and I’ll repeat it throughout)…the key to doing either Option 1 or Option 2…YOU WILL NEED TO FINISH THE RESTART PROCESS BEFORE YOUR 10 day SESSION EXPIRES. Don’t wait for the “you have 2 hours left in this session” notification…by then you are already too late for Option 1 or 2.
Technically, you need to (1) start at least 2 hours and 10 minutes before the 10-day session expires AND (2) finish the restart process before the 10-day session expires…if you don’t you’ll be forced to use Option 3 (and that can take some time for the first time user). SO…my piece of advice…set a timer, calendar appointment, or task at least 4 hours before the “Session Expires” time shown your G6 session’s settings. That will buy you a little bit of nice breathing room on the timing of everything. There’s no reason to wait until the last minute to do this process…day 7, day 8, day 9…they all would work. If you like routine like my family does…EVERY WEEKEND we just do this process sometime during the weekend. That way we aren’t hurried, I’m not watching the clock, and it becomes an easy routine, and we never bump-up against the 10-day deadline. (We use Option 1.)
If for some reason you didn’t get a chance to prepare for Option 1 or 2 far enough in advance of the 10-day expiration, then you will need to use Option 3. Said another way: Option 1 and Option 2 have a two hour and 10 minute process minimum to finish and if your sensor session expires before you finish, you will be forced to use Option 3 or 4 (or just put on a new G6 sensor).
The most common failure for people trying to restart is that they do not complete the restart before the session expires. They either start the process too close to expiration, or get distracted and forget to come back and finish the process. Planning ahead will help avoid this most common mistake.
So let’s discuss each of the processes in detail.
Option 1: Use G6 receiver
This is the easiest and preferred method because you don’t have to lose BG data during the restart process. You can just keep looping (if you are a looper) and watching BG data on your phone, Nightscout, and Follow apps the whole time.
To use this process, you do NOT have to be using a receiver on a regular basis. We only pull the receiver out in order to do the restarts. Normally, it sits in the closet, turned off, between session restarts. I think of the receiver as a magic restart wand that we pull out of the closet every so often.
Remember to start this process far enough in advance that you will finish it before the “Sensor Expires” time.
- In your Alerts settings for the receiver, it’s a good idea to turn off the “signal loss” alert during this process. Your receiver is going to have signal loss for two hours and it would be annoying to hear that alert for the whole time. Just a good idea before you get started.
- If you don’t normally use the receiver, go ahead and turn it on. Get the receiver connected with the transmitter. Shortly after (about 5 minutes) the receiver connects, the receiver will start reading BGs from the existing session already going on the phone.
- Watch the receiver get a fresh BG value. Usually this happens just seconds after the phone app gets a new BG. During this process, the transmitter and receiver briefly talk and then disconnect from each other for the next 5 minutes. We are going to use that disconnected state to our advantage to restart the sensor.
- Wait about 15 seconds or so after the new BG value came in and then press the “Stop Sensor” option ON THE RECEIVER (not on the phone). You’ll be told “Are you sure you want to stop your sensor? It cannot be restarted, a new sensor is required.” Answer Yes. You’ll see a little progress bar go by for stopping sensor.
- On the screen that appears after the progress bar, press New Sensor. You’ll be promoted to choose between “No Code” or “Enter Code”. You can choose either. If you choose to “Enter Code”, go find your code from when you originally inserted the sensor (the one printed on the adhesive cover of the sensor). Contrary to early rumors, not all the sensors in a box have the same code. That code is the calibration code for the particular sensor wire that sensor is using. If you don’t have that code saved, go ahead and choose “No Code” (don’t just randomly use the code from a different sensor in your supplies).
- After you finish with the Code entry decisions, you’ll need to press the “Start Sensor” button that will appear on the receiver. You’ll see a “starting sensor” progress bar for a few seconds and then the 2-hour sensor warmup countdown circle will be displayed on the receiver.
- From this point forward for at least two hours…you need the receiver to NOT COME INTO COMMUNICATION WITH THE TRANSMITTER. There are several ways to do this, some ideas:
- Put the receiver in the microwave. The microwave blocks the communications between the receiver and the transmitter very effectively, just make sure you don’t turn on the microwave during the 2+ hours you’re waiting, or
- Put the receiver in a faraday bag (costs less than $10 and it can act just like the microwave, but a lot more portable and easy to manage), or
- Put the receiver “far enough away” that it stays out of range of the transmitter. Neighbor’s house, the corner of your backyard, etc. Just so long as it is far enough away that the transmitter and receiver won’t accidentally talk to each other during the 2+ hours of waiting. This is the second most common failure point for people trying to restart…they do not adequately keep the receiver from communicating with the transmitter during this 2 hour wait. I highly recommend using a microwave or a faraday bag for this option to prevent accidental communication.
- During this 2+ hours of waiting, the receiver will have “signal loss” message. That’s a good thing. Don’t worry about that.
- You can wait longer than 2+ hours without a problem…so long as you don’t wait past the “Sensor Expires” time on the phone.
- Also during this 2+ hours of waiting, you’ll have BGs on the phone app uninterrupted. Your Nightscout site, dexcom follow app, dexcom G6 app, and Loop app (if you use it) will all continue to work as usual.
- After waiting 2+ hours at least (I usually go at least 2 hours and 10 minutes just in case), bring the receiver back into communications with the transmitter. Within 5 minutes, the receiver will connect with the transmitter again. And then 5 minutes after that, the receiver and phone will start showing BGs again for the newly restarted session (or the “enter 2 calibrations” request if you chose a “no code” session or used a reset transmitter).
- If required, enter the calibrations in both the phone and receiver at the same time. If your session did not require immediate calibrations to start the session, it is still not a bad idea to check and make sure you’ve restarted BGs at a reasonable value.
- Congrats, you’ve just restarted your G6 sensor session. Your newly started session will expire 10 days from the time that you did Step 5, so plan ahead if you are going to do any subsequent restarts.
Here’s the video for the G6 Option 1
Option 2: No-receiver restart
For non-US residents, sometimes you can purchase the G6 system without the receiver. So while you can still restart the sensor session without it, the disadvantage (vs. using Option 1) is that you will not see BGs for two hours during the restart process.
Remember to start this process far enough in advance that you will finish it before the “Sensor Expires” time.
- In phone’s bluetooth list (in iPhone Settings), “forget” the Dexcom transmitter ID. In fact, “forget” all your old Dexcom transmitters if you don’t regularly delete them. Old ones don’t need to be saved. By forgetting the Dexcom transmitter, we are preventing the transmitter and app communications during the restart process…and that’s a good thing. We don’t want them paired during the 2 hours.
- Go to G6 app on the phone and “stop sensor” from the Settings menu. You’ll be told “Are you sure you want to stop your sensor? It cannot be restarted, a new sensor is required.” Answer Yes.
- On the screen that appears after, press “New Sensor”. You’ll be promoted to choose between “No Code” or “Enter Code”. You can choose either. If you choose to “Enter Code”, go find your code from when you originally inserted the sensor (the one printed on the adhesive cover of the sensor). That code is the calibration code for the particular sensor wire that sensor is using. If you don’t have that code saved, go ahead and choose “No Code” (don’t just randomly use the code from a different sensor in your supplies).
- After you finish with the Code entry decisions, you’ll need to press the “Start Sensor” button that will waiting on the app’s main screen. You’ll see a “starting sensor” progress bar for a few seconds and then the 2-hour sensor warmup countdown circle will be displayed on the phone.
- Wait at least 2 hours, but not so long that the old sensor session will expire during your wait. If the old session expires before you finish the remaining steps…you’ll have to move onto Option 3 or 4 (or replace the sensor).
- Your G6 app will also display “signal loss” during this time. That’s good, too. You want the transmitter to stay unpaired and “lost” during the warmup wait.
- After the 2 hour wait, restart the phone (hold down the power button and slide to turn off the phone). Open G6 app. This will trigger the phone to try to re-pair with transmitter. Accept the pairing request now that you’ve waited at least 2 hours. If you don’t get a pairing request within 5 minutes of the restart, you may need to restart the phone one more time.
- About 5 minutes after accepting the pairing request, you’ll be greeted with BGs again for the newly restarted session (or the “enter 2 calibrations” request if you chose a “no code” session or use a reset transmitter). If prompted, enter the calibrations and you’re good to go.
Option 3: Reset Transmitter
The last resort for restarting a G6 sensor session, Option 3 should be saved for when you’ve accidentally lost track of time and won’t be able to finish Option 1/2 before the 10-day clock runs out. Note: There is a pretty significant side effect of resetting the transmitter.
Reset transmitters will cause EVERY session (new and restarted) to be a “No Code” behavior and you will get calibration requests…even if you entered a sensor code. So before you reset a transmitter, ask if you are prepared to have calibration prompts for all your remaining sessions using that transmitter.
- Build the ResetTransmitter app as described in my blog post here.
- Make sure your G6 session has ended. You cannot be in an active session for a transmitter reset.
- Go to your iPhone’s Bluetooth area (in Settings) and “forget” the Dexcom transmitter.
- Delete the Dexcom G6 app.
- Shutdown and restart your iPhone.
- Open the ResetTransmitter app and enter your dexcom transmitter ID and press the Reset button. Within 5 minutes you should get a pairing request to accept. The reset success message will appear within a very short time after the pairing is accepted.
- IF you don’t get a pairing request within 5 minutes in Step 6, restart the phone again. Double check all the dexcom transmitters have been deleted from the bluetooth list on the phone. Open the ResetTransmitter app again and see if you get a pairing request within 5 minutes. (The toughest part of this process is getting the transmitter to successfully unpair and re-pair between apps. Sometimes it takes a few restarts and patience…but it does work eventually.)
- After the transmitter has been reset, you can reverse the process. Forget the Dexcom transmitter again from Bluetooth list, restart the phone. Reinstall the G6 app and go through the setup screens as if you were starting a new sensor. It won’t matter if you use a code or no-code session, as you will definitely be prompted for calibrations for any session after resetting the transmitter. Once you get a successful pairing established, you can press the start session on your app.
Option 4: Remove the transmitter
The G6 transmitter is surrounded by plastic entirely. The locking wings for the transmitter are located under and inside the plastic ring surrounding the transmitter, making them very inaccessible by fingers. Therefore, popping out the G6 transmitter is a bit cumbersome, requires some small pointy tool, and frankly would be a little hard to do if your sensor is in an awkward spot to reach. I managed to do it with a simple tool by myself with the sensor on my arm (see video below), so it’s not impossible.
Technically, if you remove the transmitter, you can replace it back onto the same sensor (and tape it back down so it stays locked in place, if you’ve busted the hinge point in the process of removing the transmitter). This would allow you to restart a sensor session on the same sensor.
I’m only mentioning this option for full disclosure of ALL the options…but really this shouldn’t be used. It’s so much easier to use one of the first two options. Although, it may be preferable to Option 3 given what we know about the side effects of resetting a transmitter for calibrations now.
Video of how to remove the transmitter:
Restarting G6 Transmitter (avoid the 90-112 days Dexcom shut down)
The Dexcom G6 transmitter is just like the G5 transmitter in that Dexcom artificially kills the transmitter by 112 days of use after first activation. If you’d like to use the transmitter beyond the 112 days, and instead use the transmitter until the end of its battery life, you can use the same process described in my G5-reset-transmitter post. The G6 transmitter can be reset at any time just like the G5 transmitters.