A Type I Diabetic’s Thoughts on the Nick Jonas/Dexcom Superbowl Ad
I had the biggest crush on Nick Jonas as a teenager.
All it took, honestly, is being about the same age, and both Type I Diabetic. I am that desperate for other Type I Diabetic contact. My experience with the diabetic community is almost exclusively positive, and if a fellow diabetic came to me asking for help, stranger or no, I would commit insurance fraud for that person without blinking.
Google has picked up on this, unsurprisingly. For the last three days, every article recommended to me has revolved around the advertisement shown last Sunday during the Superbowl game for Dexcom blood sugar sensors.
If you aren’t diabetic like me, you may not know what that is. Basically, Type I Diabetes is a disorder where your body cannot regulate how the sugar in your bloodstream can access the cells it needs to be in to become the energy you use to do… everything. That’s the simplistic version, anyway. For Type I Diabetics, knowing what your blood sugar currently is means everything. We can give man-made insulin through injection or a pump if we know that we have too much sugar in our bloodstream, and we can eat sugary foods to combat when we have too little. If we balance this right, we function perfectly, like anyone else. Before insulin could be produced, and before blood sugar levels could be accurately tested, we died.
Diabetes technology has seen explosive growth in the last century. Life has gotten easier for diabetics every decade that I’ve been alive. Right now, one of the biggest advancements has been the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) device. (glucose means sugar) Without a CGM, a diabetic has to test their blood sugar by “pricking their fingers” and getting a teardrop sized blood sample that captures where your blood sugar is at that exact second. Using a CGM is the equivalent of doing that every five minutes. That’s important not only for the ease of doing so without drawing blood, but because the device shows you visually if your blood sugar starts rising or dropping rapidly, so you can take preventative measures that keep it in the ideal range.
All of that is a lot of words to say that a CGM is incredibly, unbelievably important to me. I wear a Dexcom CGM constantly, unless my insurance is being picky and not sending me my supplies on time. As far as I’m aware, there are two CGM brands out on the market. Dexcom is the major one, and the other comes from Medtronic, who sells insulin pumps that connect to their brand name CGM sensors.
I’ve worn a Medtronic pump for eighteen years, and I love their pumps. But their sensors are the most inaccurate piece of junk I’ve ever seen.
So I use a Dexcom CGM, even with my Medtronic pump.
Dexcom only does CGM sensors. As far as I am aware, there is not a single other product in the Dexcom line, just their G5 and G6 sensors. The Dexcom sensors have an app on your phone that the readings go to, and that app can connect to apps on the phones of your friends and family, so they can monitor how your blood sugar is doing. Anytime my blood sugar is low, my mother texts me to see if I’m eating something, and it comforts us both. If I was ever so low I went unconscious (being very, very low gives diabetics seizures), my mother could call me an ambulance from a whole other state.
So my real take-away from the Dexcom Superbowl ad is confusion.
It’s not that I don’t love both Dexcom and Nick Jonas. Particularly Dexcom. Nick Jonas I haven’t thought as much about since I was sixteen, though I did start jumping up and down in my chair at the theater when he showed up in the new Jumanji movie. A brief googling show that he seems to be doing well, and I love that for him. And honestly, as I put in the subtitle, I don’t think he’s that relevant here. He’s a Type I Diabetic, so he voice a commercial for Dexcom. It’s not like he planned and paid for it.
No, it’s Dexcom that I don’t understand. I’m not planning to get harsh, because I depend on this brand for literal life, but in what world did Dexcom need to be in the Superbowl? Actually, maybe I will be harsh, because it concerns me that a business I rely so much on doesn’t seem to understand their own product.
If you’re interested, I recorded my reaction when watching the ad for the first time:
I get into a few details from the video itself that I don’t like, but at the end of the day, I’m left with one, burning question.
Who is this ad for?
It’s certainly not for me, the Type I Diabetic who is already using the product. I purchase as many supplies as my insurance legally allows, I’m set to auto-renew that order on the exact date I’m able. I have a hard time imagining that this, while informative, is meant for non-diabetics. The advertisement is mostly a sales pitch, geared around telling diabetics how easy their life can be. Is it on the bucket list of a higher up at Dexcom to get an ad in the Superbowl? Is it just an ad to gloat?
Over the last few decades, I’ve met countless diabetics. We talk about supplies, and pumps, and everything in between. I have never known a diabetic who did not already know of Dexcom, of CGMs. I think the last time I saw a diabetic who didn’t was ten to fifteen years ago. Any diabetic whose doctor hasn’t already talked to them about the benefits of a CGM device has absolutely failed them. I cannot put that in kinder or plainer terms — a CGM is a life-saving device.
So who is this ad for? We already know it isn’t for:
- Nick Jonas’ Acting Career
The only people who could use a Dexcom device that don’t have one already are those who cannot get one. Those who don’t have health care, and who can’t afford it out of pocket.
So why wasn’t the advertising money used to help them?
Let’s not pretend it wouldn’t have generated as much, if not more, publicity.