Pump Exploration, Part 1.

I’ve been interested in writing about my pump and its many features for some time. But to be honest, I haven’t been able to find the time lately, since my real job and worries about Hurricane Sandy have been taking up most of it.

I tried going through the pump manual/owner’s guide for a few days in my off hours to get some ideas, but that eventually made me sleepy. Sorry Medtronic… it’s not you, it’s me.

So since I wanted to write something, but I don’t have a lot of time to go in depth yet, instead of breaking down some unique feature of my Minimed Paradigm® Revel™ insulin pump, I’m going to invoke the Same Time, Next Year rule.

This rule is named after The Great Spousal Unit’s favorite movie: Same Time, Next Year starring the great Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda. In the movie (and the earlier play of the same name), there’s a scene where the characters decide that they’ll each tell one good story and one bad story about their spouses, thereby insuring that they don’t look either too good or too bad to the other. So that’s what I’m going to do here. It’s my blog, I make up the rules.

The good story: Gotta admit, I like the freedom. I held off on pump therapy for a long time because I didn’t want to be tethered to a device for the rest of my life. But as time has gone on (2½ years), I’ve figured out that I can do pretty much anything (except swim) with my pump.

I also like the freedom that comes with being able to adjust my basal rates on the fly. With MDI (multiple daily injections), what I inject is what I get insulin-wise. So I found myself in situations from time to time where I would inject a certain basal amount of Lantus for the day, then have some kind of strenuous exercise that I hadn’t planned on, which could make my BG go dangerously low. With pump therapy, if something like that happens, I have the ability to adjust my basal rate on a temporary basis as a result of the impromptu exercise. I count on that a lot, and it works.

The bad story: I’m not a big fan of the circles. These are the different icons that tell you if your pump is in alert status or in alarm status. Also known as Special Mode and Attention Mode.

Alert icon (Special Mode):

Alarm icon (Attention Mode):

Basically, if your pump is in Special Mode, you’ll still be getting insulin. If your pump is in Attention Mode, insulin delivery has stopped completely. If your reservoir is low, you’ll get a message, then the blank circle icon on your screen that says you’re in Special Mode. Great, but after you clear the low reservoir message, it’s easy to forget that the icon is there.

If your reservoir goes completely empty, or your battery dies, or you have a motor error, you’ll receive an error message and then the Black Circle of Non-Delivery.

Obviously, the big difference here is that the alert icon can be rather innocuous. You’ll get this for a temp basal event. Not a big deal, right? I mean, you should already know if you’re using a temp basal right now.

On the other hand, the alarm icon means that you’d better do something pretty quick. Immediately, if not sooner. While I’m not a fan of ridiculously recurring alarms, I would be totally okay with the pump beeping a bit louder than usual in this case. A loud beep, instead of the quiet one I get, that I can’t hear when I’m out walking on a city street. In this instance, a black circle doesn’t really mean anything to me because I can’t see it on my pump unless I’m looking at the pump for another reason.

Hopefully, the good story here is a good one, and the bad story isn’t too bad. Overall, I’m glad I made the choice to start using an insulin pump. And I hope to get more in depth with it as the months and years go by, and as I get more time. If I do, I’ll pass along a few more pump stories. Maybe before it’s time for a new one.
 
 
 

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Comments

  • Scott E  On October 29, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Good point! At one time, I got completely de-sensitized to the open circle that I completely ignored it, and found my reservoir running dangerously close to Empty as a result.

    Don’t force yourself to read the manual just yet. There will be plenty of time for that during the inevitable blackout. I’ve got all kinds of dull reading material standing by.

    Like

    • StephenS  On October 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Good point Scott… I suspect you’re going to get it worse than we will here.

      Like

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