This is a big one, guys.
In the course of playing with the new G6 transmitters (see this post) and the more aggressive “restart” checks that Dexcom has instituted…I found this loophole. I don’t know how long this loophole will last, so best to take advantage of it now, if you are so inclined. (Note: This has all been tested on iPhones and iPod touch…android phones are a whole different beast and I can’t promise results will be the same. Based on previous restart difficulties Dexcom+android users have had, I’m guessing they may not be able to “loophole” their android Dexcom app.)
Why you should care now?
If you are using an old style G6 transmitter (the kind that start with transmitter IDs of 80xxxx, 81xxxx)…if you don’t do this, not a big deal right now. BUT, you could eliminate the potential for incorrectly getting “no restarts” on new sensors. Those are annoying as they usually happen at the most inconvenient time. You can also eliminate, if you are a restarting type of person usually, the need to do that 15-min no-code thing in order to restart…no longer necessary with a “loopholed” app.
If you are using a new G6 transmitter (the kind that start with transmitter IDs of 8Gxxxx or 22xxxx, and they have a little bump along the top of the transmitter), you won’t be able to use ANY of your old restart techniques except the Bluetooth Unpaired method described above. The good news is that once you do the restart once, you can go back to using your receiver-to-restart OR simply press the buttons to restart the same sensor (also without waiting 15 minutes or doing any of your old “15 min, no-code, stop/start” stuff)
And guess what? Dexcom is moving us to the new transmitters…they are shipping currently, so time to prepare.
What is the issue?
Remember how on G5 you could immediately reuse an existing sensor by just pressing the “start session” button in the app or receiver to start a new session?
And remember how on G6 they promised we wouldn’t be able to do that anymore? But we all found our preferred ways around that…many of you using the 15-min no code, some using the receiver in a microwave, and others using a different option.
While we’ve (mostly) all had success at restarts, some people aren’t so lucky…and the 15-min code thing fails. And the new transmitters are getting caught more often at restarts, too.
Even worse…we’ve all had instances where even a brand new sensor gets the dreaded “no restarts allowed” message. (If you haven’t had that message yet…don’t worry, your time is coming.) It doesn’t take that much to trigger Dexcom’s restart checking algorithm to reject your sensor session. And it is super annoying to be looking at a clock at sensor change time and wondering if you’ve waited the Dexcom-recommended “15 minutes between stop and start of next session for new sensors”. I’ve got other things to do (as does my t1 kid’s teen brain) than wait around for 15 minutes because of a not-well-designed restart check that is incorrectly flagging legit new sensors.
The Loophole is…
If you do just ONE restart using the Bluetooth Unpaired method described below…you can do all subsequent sensor restarts just like you used to in the G5 system. Just once is all it takes.
- No more waiting 15 minutes before starting a new sensor.
- No more “no-code for 15 minutes, restart with code”.
You’ll be able to restart G6 sensors just by pressing “stop sensor”, “new sensor” and “start sensor” back-to-back-to-back. But you do have to do the method described below just once at least in order to activate this loophole.
Bluetooth Unpaired method
Before you start, consider when to do this. Pick a time when you can most easily go without 2 hours of CGM data (and Looping if you are a looper). AND: Start and finish this process before your existing session expires. Like do this sometime on day 9 or earlier of your sensor…leave yourself a generous little buffer to finish the 2 hour plus change process. Don’t start this with 2 hours and 15 minutes left on your session…that’s just asking to forget and miss finishing in time.
- Wait for new BG to come in and then wait about one minute. Doesn’t have to be exactly one minute…just enough of a little pause to make sure the transmitter is done talking to the app.
- Forget/delete Dexcom from Bluetooth list in iPhone’s settings. iPhone users, tap the little “i” next to every Dexcom ID in your phone’s bluetooth list and forget the pairing(s).
- “Stop Sensor”, “New Sensor”, enter code of the sensor (you saved that little tag of paper, right?), “Start Sensor”.
- If a Loop user, delete your CGM from Loop settings now so that step 6 later will be successful. This is a good time to do it so you don’t forget later at the end of the 2 hour wait. If you forget to delete CGM in Loop settings, you’ll be waiting forever for a pairing request. Not a Loop user? Then don’t worry about the stuff I just described in this step 😉
- Wait 2 hours and 5 min minimum for the warmup to finish. Do not accept any pairing requests during that time. You’ll probably see “transmitter not found” display on the Dexcom app during this time. You can use your phone as normal during this time, but I advise turning off the Dexcom app notifications in the Notifications section of your phone settings. Otherwise you will get pinged every 5 minutes for the next two hours with pairing requests.
- After the warmup wait is over, open Dexcom app and wait for pairing request.
- Accept pairing request. You will likely see “signal loss” message for 5 minutes after this setup. Totally normal.
- BGs (backfilled for the warmup, too) and fresh 10-day session should appear after that signal loss clears in 5 minutes. Confirm in Dexcom app that the session start time is now updated to reflect the restarted time. Every once in awhile, the first restart doesn’t “take” the first time. Try these steps again if the start time of the session was not updated to reflect the restart.
- Add your CGM back to Loop settings, if you are a Looper.
And now that you finished all these steps…you app is now “loopholed”. You can stop/start your next sessions on G6 without getting caught up by “no restart messages” again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1: How many people have tested it?
Answer: About 20 people have tested this for me before I posted. I also personally ran about 15 sessions on three transmitters through testing to confirm. And I deleted my Dexcom app four times and re-loopholed it four times to make sure; on an iPod touch (6th gen) and on an iPhone just to make sure. All the testers and tests I ran have succeeded when following the directions above. Have confirmed it on South African mmol G6 app and on US G6 app versions.
Question 2: Can I do this method when I don’t have an active session going to start and still create the same loophole?
Answer: No. Make sure to do the Bluetooth Unpaired restart while in active session first.
Question 3: What about Android phone users?
Answer: All of this was tested on iPhones. Android users may have varying results depending on their bluetooth’s aggressiveness on reconnecting. Some android phone users might go ahead and turn BT off entirely just in case. Also…it’s possible the android version of Dexcom’s app behaves differently. Please let me know what you find, or send me an android phone to test with.
Question 4: Could I just turn Bluetooth off instead of forgetting the pairing?
Answer: Just go ahead and do like the directions say for simplicity’s sake and save the headaches of going off-the-proven path. It’s just one time you need to restart like that…so suck it up and do it per directions.
Question 5: What about Tandem x2 users?
Answer: Good question…anyone want to send me a Tandem x2 pump to play with? I’d be happy to write up my findings then…until then you are on your own.
Question 6: What if I delete my Dexcom app or switch phones?
Answer: You’re hosed. Just kidding…but you will have to redo the Bluetooth Unpaired restart again. In my experiments, deleting and reinstalling a new app did bring back the restart checks and “no restarts” errors. After I redid the Bluetooth Unpaired restart again, the app went back to the “loopholed” function again.
Question 7: Will Dexcom close this loophole?
Answer: I imagine so, eventually, yes. But, take the plastic covers off the couches now and enjoy them while you still can. I have turned off my Automatic App updates setting in iPhone’s App Store settings just in case. Dexcom won’t sneak in that update without me seeing it.
Dear Dexcom, if you are reading, I hope that in killing this loophole you also would (1) improve the ability to NOT flag legit new sensors in the effort to get restarts and (2) eliminate the 15-minute wait between sensor changes.
Question 8: If I don’t restart, should I still do this?
Answer: It’s up to you. We don’t restart sensors in our house for a few reasons like (1) Anna gets itchy when adhesives start coming up at edges (2) We use an automated insulin delivery system, so sensor accuracy is something we take quite seriously (3) Anna’s body effectively makes her get sensor data loss for an hour or so at a time by day 11-12 anyways (4) the G6 insertion is so painless that she doesn’t mind changing sensors now and finally (5) we have decent insurance. With all that said…I will still be loophole-ing her phone because neither of have enjoyed the three times she’s been “no restarted” out of a brand new sensor. That’s just a waste of time and money.
Remember, the restart checks are because of Dexcom’s G6’s iCGM designation as a device you can make insulin dosing decisions with. In other words, by restarting a sensor beyond its approved limitations, you are going into DIY territory.
So, while you are Doing-It-Yourself, make sure you add the following to your To-Do-It-Yourself List.
- After you see your CGM readings start again on a restart, make sure to do a several finger checks regularly with your glucometer to check for accuracy.
- Don’t extend a sensor session beyond its accuracy…ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE USING AN AUTOMATED INSULIN DELIVERY SYSTEM. No amount of money savings is worth automated insulin delivery on a sketchy sensor.