You do NOT want to see this message…

This is not something you want to see displayed on your insulin pump:

This is what popped up on my Animas Vibe pump about a week ago. Immediately, a number of thoughts (all bad) came to mind…

– Does this mean the pump has failed?

– Can I fix it and start pumping again?

– Animas is out of business in the USA… If it’s broken beyond repair, what then?

– What about backups? Do I have enough basal insulin, and syringes or pen needles, to get me through until I get another pump?

I’ll be honest, I thought immediately that the pump was toast, and that I was too, because I knew that Animas is no longer selling insulin pumps in my country. I thought that a failed pump meant I needed to find a new insulin pump manufacturer, and probably, a fight with insurance for replacing my pump before the warranty was out.

Like a complete novice, I called the number on the back of my pump. As I expected, the old Animas number rolled over to Medtronic customer service. We went through some initial getting-to-know-you items, like name, contact number, and the serial number from the back of my pump.

Then I was asked to describe my issue. I covered the error message you see above, and after an extended silence, I was told that indeed, my pump was kaput.

But… good news! Medtronic was able to send a new Animas pump my way in about 36 hours. But… bad news! That meant a full day and a half on MDI, or multiple daily injections.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t concern me. But when I go the MDI route, it involves a certain amount of longer acting insulin, injected to replace my pump’s basal rate. In my pump, it’s fast acting insulin (Novolog) all the time.

In this case, my basal insulin was Lantus. While using Lantus prior to starting on my insulin pump eight years ago, I encountered some of the worst, the scariest lows I’ve ever had in my life.

So I kept a close watch on my Dexcom CGM, and I did have a couple of lows that, while not super scary, occurred at times when I typically wouldn’t encounter a low just using my fast-acting insulin of choice. In this scenario, I was glad to have access to a tool like my CGM, to give me near-real time numbers and trend data. It helped me ensure that I wasn’t flying blind with my blood sugar numbers. I was far less likely to be surprised.

Nevertheless, I was thrilled to come off the Lantus and start pumping again. Same model pump, same color. There are two important things to note here, especially since I haven’t mentioned these two yet:

1. Make sure you have backups in case of pump failure. I started to run really low on pen needles. I needed to reuse a couple of them, and that’s not always a safe practice (and in case I really have to tell you, never reuse someone else’s pen needle or syringe).

2. Make sure you note your pump settings (basal rates, insulin/carb ratio, correction factor, etc.). Hey, my pump was broken. How could I get all of the settings that have been in there for two years? I had them on my iPad at home. I carry the iPad whenever I travel too, for this reason as much as any other. When it was time to set up the new pump, I was all set to go with the information I needed.

The moral of the story here is that shtuff happens. How we deal with it is sometimes scary, but dealing with unexpected things is kind of what we’re good at. After all, our lives depend on it.

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  • Molly Schreiber  On March 2, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I too have had some scary, like have the kids ready to dial 911, lows on Lantus. No fun. Thank you for the reminder about writing my settings down- since switching pumps last fall, I haven’t written my new settings down but will right now thanks to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Rick Phillips  On March 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Yes I lost my sensor settings once and ended up back at square one. Which was well a lot more than right now. Updating the written record is a great idea.


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