Tuesday, I was able to overcome a potentially panic-enducing episode of my own doing. I’m not the most handy guy in the world, so getting over this was a big deal for me, even though it’s probably not to you. Let me explain:
I walked out the door and headed to work without checking the status on my insulin pump. That means I left for work without noticing that I had about 7 units of insulin left in my reservoir. Not nearly enough to last through the day until I got home.
I don’t generally keep extra insulin lying around my desk at work, so I had to come up with something, or inconvenience The Great Spousal Unit and ask her to make a special trip downtown, which is way out of her way. To make matters worse, my Animas pump has one feature that I absolutely detest: when the pump says zero units left, it stops pumping.
The problem is, when the pump says it’s at zero units, there are still about 20 units of insulin left in my reservoir. Now that’s enough to last me through the day at work. What to do?
Well, I don’t recommend that anyone do this on a regular basis. It is far from an exact science. But it beats wasting insulin, or potentially going a few hours without any. Here’s what I did: once my pump went to zero units and gave me a no delivery alarm, I pulled the reservoir out, and every hour, carefully pumped more insulin in using the plunger underneath the reservoir. You know… syringe style. Once the plunger reached a certain point, I had to use a pencil to push it further and continue to pump insulin.
Like I said, this is not an exact way of delivering insulin, and I do not recommend it if you can avoid it. In addition to regular hourly bolus amounts, I checked my glucose levels about every hour and a half to make sure I wasn’t too high or too low. But in this case, this practice solved two problems for me: I did not need extra insulin or to leave work early to get extra insulin, and I did not waste 20 units (or more) of perfectly good Novolog.
My old insulin pump had a 300 unit reservoir. My new pump has only a 200 unit reservoir. This isn’t a huge concern for me. I can manage with either. However, one of the features of my previous pump that I took for granted (and wish I had back) was the fact that I could fill the reservoir, prime the pump, go until the pump said zero units left, and still keep pumping for hours, because it kept pumping until the insulin was gone, not until the display said zero. The “Load Cartridge” feature on my new insulin pump already takes about fifteen units away from a full reservoir, and I take about ten more to prime (it’s long tubing). Then the pump quits when it says zero units, even though there are always 20 units or more left in the reservoir.
All’s well that ends well. When I got home from work, my pre-dinner BG check resulted in a reasonable 115 mg/dL.
I must say, I find it annoying at best, wasteful at worst for my pump manufacturer to stop my pump entirely when I have insulin left in the reservoir. So Animas, if I work on checking my pump status more often, can you work on that delivery of all the insulin in my reservoir? My solution was not exactly MacGyver-esque, but it was useful anyway. Let’s hope I don’t have to employ similar tactics in the future.