When Switching CGMs In Another Country Goes Wrong

For the past year and a half, I’ve been using the Freestyle Libre CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and its accompanying app. It gives me a (nearly) instant reading on my blood sugar levels sparing me from having to prick my finger constantly with a lancing device.

Want to know what these terms mean? Check out this glossary.

I have to switch this particular brand out every 14 days so I brought several extras with me on the current trip.

While we were exploring the hip, artsy Barrio de Xochimilco neighborhood, my current sensor expired leaving me blind to my blood sugars. After a delicious breakfast (eggs benedict with grasshoppers??), we headed back towards the Airbnb.

We had to make a quick pitstop to try a cup of tejate, a local drink made from maize and cacao. It’s refreshing, frothy, and like a watery chocolate milk with a distinct corn sweetness.

Tejate drink
Check out the tejate, ignore the crazy hair.

Making it back to our Airbnb, I took out a new CGM, cleaned up my arm with an alcohol wipe, and applied the new sensor.

Want to see what changing a CGM is like? Check out my Instagram Reel.

I got out my phone, popped open the app, and held it up to my sensor to activate the new one.

*longer vibration than normal…*

” Incompatible Sensor” read the message that popped up.

The initial alert message.

After a little dive into the app and the box that the CGM came in, I realized I had been using the Libre 2 sensor and the replacement I opened was the Libre 14-day. While the two sensors essentially operate in the exact same way, the 14-day was an alternative available in the United States while the Libre 2 waited for FDA approval.

Really the only difference is the app used…

This means I needed to download the other app. No biggie, I popped into the Google Play store and searched for Librelink (the Libre 2 uses the conveniently named “Libre 2” app.)

My initial results weren’t successful, so I navigated the Abbott website to find the 14-Day app link. I clicked it and when rerouted back to the app store, received the message that this app wasn’t available in your country.

Okay, so I have the Libre 2 app with a Libre 14-day sensor and I can’t download the 14-day app because it isn’t available in Mexico. Got it.

My only option that I could think of was to download a VPN (virtual private network) that I could use to trick my phone into thinking it was in the United States. I have no extended use for a VPN, so I don’t currently have a subscription, nor do I want one.

Browsing my Google Pixel, I noticed that I could get one month free of Google One, which lists a VPN as one of the benefits of the paid account. Sweet, I can burn through my free-trial and get the VPN access. I activated my trial, signed into my new One account, and…. nope.

The VPN benefit doesn’t start until you upgrade to a higher-tier account. So I let out a loud sigh, contemplated my lack of choices, and hit the upgrade button for $9.99/month.

[UPDATE December 2022] Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones now include the Google One VPN at no additional charge. This started December 5, 2022 (one day after I upgraded…)

I turned on the VPN service, found the Abbott link to the Librelink app, successfully downloaded it, and started the warmup process for my new sensor. Finally.

Would it have been the end of the world if I didn’t get the app to work? No. But having nearly instant access to your current blood sugar levels makes controlling your diabetes easier and to not ignore the fact that you’re paying over such a large price for them (I pay about $81/month after insurance,) I would ideally like the sensor to work.

3 thoughts on “When Switching CGMs In Another Country Goes Wrong

  1. Hi Kelton 🙂

    FYI: CGM technology does *NOT* measure *BLOOD* sugar. It measures sugar levels in intercellular body fluids. These measurements lag blood sugar measurement by ca. 20 minutes.

    🙂 Norbert

    Like

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