Tag Archives: Animas

8 Questions… just because.

It’s been kind of a whirlwind week, in the middle of two or three whirlwind weeks in a row. Lots of things going on, some important news, and a few really sad stories outside of the Diabetes Community.

Since we’re busy and we’ve had a lot of dark clouds hanging over our collective heads lately, I think we all could use a break. So, without further ado, here are eight interesting diabetes questions based on, well, nothing really. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments. Here we go:

1. Insulin pump or MDI (multiple daily injections)? Or neither? We know that some people who live with Type 2 diabetes don’t take insulin at all, and some insulin users are using inhalable insulin. I’m still working with my Animas Vibe pump, even though Animas has decided to go out of business. Whatever you do to help manage your diabetes, if it’s working, you’re doing the right thing. Isn’t it great to have choices? When we’re allowed to have choices?

2. Dexcom or Libre? With U.S. FDA approval of Abbott’s Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor, I suspect this will be a question asked more and more in doctor’s offices and at diabetes conferences nationwide. These aren’t the only CGMs available, but they’re the only ones available as standalone devices (not required to be paired with an insulin pump). Again, it’s great to have choices, when we’re allowed to have choices.

3. Have you heard of The Affordable Insulin Project? This is another of DPAC’s efforts on an issue that affects millions of Americans. Check out the website and see how you can help spread the word and help make access to the life-saving drug that many cannot live without more affordable. To find out more, go to AffordableInsulinProject.org.

4. Have you donated insulin or supplies to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico? Insulin for Life USA is helping to coordinate efforts to send much-needed insulin and test strips to those impacted by hurricane Maria, and also hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Find out how you can help pay it forward by going to ifl-usa.org.

5. Are you donating blood? All of us were shaken this week by the news that hundreds were gunned down at a concert in Las Vegas. In response, many have donated blood via the American Red Cross. Did you know that many People With Diabetes in the USA can donate blood? Whether it helps victims in Vegas, or those closer to your home, every pint is necessary and so appreciated. I can state unequivocally that donating blood has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Consider donating too, then go to RedCrossBlood.org.

6. Did you watch the Sammies this year? Maybe you missed them because you were concentrating on the Emmys. The Sammies, or Service to America medals, are known as the Oscars of government service. They’re given each year to federal employees who are recognized as “breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results”. That’s especially true of Courtney Lias and Stayce Beck of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who have been instrumental in helping artificial pancreas research move from the “maybe, someday” stage to patient’s hands. I cannot say enough good things about them. Read about their incredible work HERE. Congratulations Stayce and Courtney!

7. Will I see you this weekend? Friends for Life comes to the Washington, D.C. area this weekend in Falls Church, Virginia. If you’re coming, I hope to see you as I advocate at the DPAC table in the exhibit area. Look for a brief recap in this space shortly.

8. Will I see you next weekend? When it rains, it pours, and diabetes events will be pouring over Northern Virginia like monsoon season in Myanmar this October, as the Diabetes UnConference and Diabetes Sisters’ Weekend for Women co-locate in Alexandria October 13-15. I will once again be a facilitator at the UnConference, and I am very much looking forward to getting together for peer-to-peer support, encouragement, and all the feels. I’ll let you know how it goes later in the month.
 
 
Those are my questions of the moment… have any answers, or questions of your own? Let me see yours in the comments below.

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Device failures.

I’ve nearly had enough.

The past few weeks have been full of diabetes device failures, and I’m actually asking myself how much more I can take.

Dexcom sensor failures are frustrating me more than I can express here. Since January, roughly one out of every two sensors fail without working more than a day, or ever working at all. I mean, how long do you put up with that kind of unreliability before you chuck it into a box and give up?

And believe me, I’m doing the insertions exactly the way I’m supposed to. Every time I do an insertion, I’m still going back to the online tutorial to make sure I’m not missing anything. The failed CGM sensors have definitely become my biggest diabetes nightmare.

I’ve even stopped contacting Dexcom support about it. The calls are all the same: the support person goes through their script so they can cover everything they need to cover… I get that. Usually, after about half an hour on the phone, they agree to send me a new sensor. But… how much is the sensor, and what is my time worth? In addition, I’ve had to replace a transmitter and a receiver too. In a little over five months. It’s quickly becoming not worth it.

But my pump issues are still there too. I have an Animas Vibe pump where a 200 unit limit to my reservoir isn’t really an issue. But it’s not really 200 units. Because once the pump says the reservoir is at 0 units, the pump stops… even though there are usually around 20 units left in the reservoir. So, something that could last 3 ½ days (for me) winds up lasting barely 3 days, if I don’t have other issues. Why do I have to waste 20 units of insulin every few days?

Which I almost always do, because my Medtronic infusion sets can’t seem to go more than 2 to 2 ½ days before they just don’t want to work as well anymore. At that point, I still seem to get insulin, but instead of hovering between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL, I suddenly go up to 220 to 320. So I have to bolus huge amounts of insulin to try to bring my glucose level down. When I change out the set my BGs go immediately down to a reasonable level again. Why can’t an infusion set be made well enough to last the FDA-mandated three day limit? Or greater?

These are all issues that I did not experience in the five years I was managing diabetes through my previous pump and no CGM. Let me put it another way: my A1c is climbing, due only to medical device failures. This leaves me asking even more questions. Like:

Why can’t device makers make something that is simple, and not as susceptible to breakdowns?

I understand the all-consuming need to develop the next special product with all the bells and whistles, but… why can’t there be a simple option that I can use? My previous pump seemed to do everything I needed it to do. Why can’t I just choose a new version of that?

I actually like my Dexcom when it works… why can’t it work more often, with fewer breakdowns of the individual parts?

I hate to pick on individual companies. But the truth is, if these were cars, I would probably choose not to drive as opposed to breaking down on the side of the road every few days.

Granted, there still aren’t many (in a trending sense) people who are managing their diabetes through pumps and CGMs. But I don’t think that should be a reason for me to settle for inferior products. It certainly isn’t a reason for me to continue to pay for said products without noting where they are coming up short.

And without saying that maybe some device companies need to go back and make their current products as reliable as they can before devoting resources toward the Next Big Thing.

The DOC as an information source.

It’s easy for me to think of the Diabetes Online Community as this lovely group of people who advocate, support one another, and help others live better lives with diabetes.

What I sometimes forget, but can never underestimate, is the power of the DOC to inform and educate. Let me give you an example:

After working for my company for 15 or 16 years, I still hadn’t met one other person there living with diabetes. Now, after almost 17 and a half years, I know four.

One of those people contacted me last week to ask about the Animas Vibe system, the pump integrated with the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor. They asked me if I had tried it, and if so, what I thought of the product.

I said that I had not, but had used an Animas Ping pump during a couple of clinical trials at the University of Virginia. This person was really looking to get first-hand knowledge of how the Vibe works and whether it was worth the hype. I then digressed into how awful it is that no insulin pump maker will let patients trial pumps anymore (lamenting the demise of the Snap), and how this would all be easier if we could just decide for ourselves, instead of deciding based on what a company rep or a doctor tells us. Digression is my strong suit.

But you know what? I knew that many people have used the Vibe system, and they’ve written about it, and it wouldn’t take too long at all to find a thorough piece on the subject.

In no time, I found this insightful review of the Animas Vibe by Melissa Lee at A Sweet Life. Sure, I knew that Melissa is knowledgeable and trustworthy, but even if I didn’t know that, her review was a very good one, and I think it’s just what this person needed.

I don’t know if this will help my friend decide on whether the Vibe is the right choice for them. What I do know is that I am often guilty of thinking about how I connect to the DOC, rather than how the DOC connects with me.

This is a good reminder of the vast treasure trove of information that we are all contributing to our community. People don’t have to always go blindly about the healthcare universe, not knowing about a product they and their insurance provider are purchasing until after they purchase it. Just knowing this information is out there already helps people make informed choices, rather than guesses.

Your story, your experiences matter. Sharing the stories of others and their experiences matter just as much. That’s been true since the earliest civilizations graced our planet so many years ago.

So today, let’s remember the power of the Diabetes Online Community as an information source. And let’s keep adding to the wealth of knowledge.
 
 
 

Decision 2014: Pump update.

So… A quick update on my pump search. As I mentioned back in May, the warranty has expired on my Minimed Revel pump. I still have a fair amount of supplies on hand, so I’m taking a little while to learn more about other pumps out there on the market. You never know… I might re-up with Medtronic. But I don’t want to do so until I’ve had a chance to see what else is out there.
 
 
I may or may not have mentioned this, but I did get the chance to check out the Animas One Touch® Ping® during my last clinical trial. It seemed to work pretty well. I like that it’s waterproof. I also like that insulin bolus delivery is exceptionally fast compared to Medtronic. To be honest, that’s not a deal breaker or a deal maker for me, but it’s something I noticed. Another thing I noticed was how much there is on all of the menus on this pump. Just to prime and begin insulin delivery using this pump requires a lot of button pushing. Again, not a deal breaker, but if all things were equal, that’s something that could sway me toward a different pump. Overall: Good experience.
 
 
That brings me to Tandem®’s t:slim®. I met last week with one of the local reps for this product. Like the other pumps I’ve inquired about, Tandem is not going to let me do a test drive on their model. But I feel like I got the next best thing when meeting with this rep. We spent over an hour talking about everything t:slim. This was pretty unscripted, though I suppose a couple of his answers were because they had to be. The best part was, I was able to handle the pump (which I had not been able to do up to that point).

I practiced filling the cartridge, priming, setting basal rates, programming a bolus. Our conversation was all over the place, which in this case, was good for me. He showed me how specific things worked, and if I had a question out of left field, I was able to ask it and get it answered before we resumed what we were originally doing. It wasn’t a power point presentation; it was two people talking about an insulin pump.

The other thing I liked about this rep was that he didn’t shy away from the difficult issues. Let’s face it: There isn’t a pump on the market that doesn’t have something less than wow about it. But when we talked about those things, I got honest answers. Which is both refreshing, and the decent thing to do.

I liked a couple of additional things related to this pump. I like the bolus reminder. Set your bolus reminder and it will alarm you if you forget. I also like the temperature gauge that can tell you whether you might be in danger of skunking your insulin due to extreme cold or heat. Again, not deal breakers or deal makers, but nice features nonetheless.

I also like that the battery charges like a phone or tablet, rather than requiring the replacement of a AAA battery every month, which I’m doing now. You might not think that’s a huge deal, but it’s at least a minor deal to me. Changing a battery every month isn’t that difficult. But in the time I’ve had my current pump, I’ve gone through 50 or 51 of them. Multiply that by who-knows-how-many insulin pumpers out there, and you get an idea of how much we’re filling our landfills with dead batteries that we don’t need to use anymore.

Bottom line: I like the t:slim, for the obvious sexy reasons. I’m not in love with the cartridge fill, so I’d have to convince myself it’s not a big deal. And Maureen thinks that sliding the cartridge into place in the way the pump works would drive me crazy. She cites my issues with the battery and SIM card on my cell phone as an example. Any honest answers from current t:slim users would be helpful and very much appreciated.
 
 
Next up: I’m looking into the Asante Snap. According to their website, I might actually get to try one out! More to come as I continue to explore the world of insulin pumps.
 
 
 

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