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Animas Vibe: First (and Quick) Impressions.

Again, disclosure:  I work with Animas and have a sponsorship contract.  Here are more details on my disclosures.  I link to my disclosures more than I link to cat .gifs, which is saying QUITE A BIT.

As I mentioned, I’m testing out the Animas Vibe.  Here are my first, quick impressions after a few days using the Vibe.  (What, you wanted some long, flowery introduction paragraph?  I’m out of words.)

First things first. Change can be awkward and uncomfortable.  When I switched from Medtronic to Animas back in 2010, I had trouble with the switch not because of the pumps themselves but because of the change, in general. Wearing an insulin pump means being connected to a small box and tubing 24 hours a day, so you really get to know that box/tubing combination.  The curves and edges of the pump  became something I knew by heart, and wearing a pump that was even half a millimeter different than whatever I was used to made me grouchy.  It took me about three weeks to become used to wearing the Animas Ping pump, and about a month and a half to become entirely used to the differences in filling the reservoir, changing the infusion set, responding to alarms, etc.  (I experienced this all over again when I took the t:slim pump for a spin over the end of the summer.  The pump itself was fine but the different size/shape/process made me grumpy like this cookie and I was less accepting of the pump because it wasn’t what I was accustomed to.  This isn’t a comment on which pump is superior, but a commentary on why the learning/acceptance curve, for me, is a true curve.  It also illustrates my hate for change.)

I was set up on the Animas Vibe on 12/31, so I haven’t had this thing for more than a few days, but going from Ping to Vibe was simple in terms of learning curve because I’d already done that curve.  I have worn an Animas Ping since 2010, so the routine is familiar.  Keep that in mind as you read through my perceptions, as they are colored by familiarity.  And coffee.  (I had two cappuccinos with dinner.  TWO!!  Bees in fingers [h/t CSparl].)

CGM Integration.  I was unsure how I’d feel about integration, to be honest.  I like having my Dexcom separate sometimes, and things like CGM in the Cloud and Share are important to me because I most-often travel alone, so having my data streaming to the cloud is an important safety feature.  But, on the whole, I don’t stream my data (with overnight exceptions as noted).  Basically, I am the main person who needs access to my data.

However.  (And this is a big however.)  I like, and appreciate, options.  I don’t have the option of ditching diabetes, but I do have options on the tools and technology I use to make sense of diabetes.  I LOVE having the Dexcom data showing up on my pump screen.  Love, love, love.  Why?  Because I always have my pump clipped to me.  I didn’t realize, until a few days ago, how often I was keeping tabs on my external receiver, bringing it from room to room with me, and keeping it clipped to my purse while I was out of the house.  I went for a run the day that I hooked up to the Vibe and it was exciting to bring only one device with me.  With a tube of glucose tabs in my pocket and pump clipped to my hip, I was good to go.  It felt liberating.


The best part, for me, is that I can run my separate Dexcom receiver at the same time.  Yes, they can run simultaneously.  (No, I have no idea how that impacts the battery life of the transmitter.  Nor am I certain this is a sound idea.  But I’m doing it anyway.)  Both the Vibe and the receiver need to be calibrated separately, but for the times when I’m away for work, I’m happy I can still make use of the Dexcom Share without getting all weird. Options where there once weren’t any at all; I’ll take it.

(And I haven’t had a chance to test the accuracy of the receiver vs. the Vibe, but since I haven’t yet upgraded my receiver to reflect the 505 algorithm [we don’t have a PC], I don’t know if my comparisons would be best.  Once I hijack someone’s PC and update my receiver, I’ll circle back on this.)

One concern I had about integration was whether or not I would hear the alarms on the pump.  In setting up my pump, I customized my alarms to reflect a vibration for any low blood sugars and a beeping for any highs, thinking that a vibration would be good for middle-of-the-night low warnings.  While I haven’t had much time to test the highs and lows (thankfully, numbers have been reasonable for the last few days), I did have one 2 am low blood sugar and the vibration woke me up.  I’ll have to wait a few more weeks/months to truly test how responsive I will be to the alarms.


Graphing it.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

One other concern I have is about the color indications for the different numbers.  I’m a creature of habit (see above bit about hating change) and I am used to the way that the Dexcom G4 receiver lays out blood sugars, in terms of color.  Ketchup and mustard, you know?  Highs are yellow, lows are red, and white means don’t touch anything because in range.  However, since companies cannot sync up their shit in a way that makes things easiest for end users (aka the PWD), the CGM graph on the Vibe is entirely different than that of the G4.  On the Vibe, highs are red, lows are blue, and in range is green.  For me, this has been a weird change because I like at-a-glancing at my CGM throughout the day, and now I need to readjust my mindset for what “red” means.

Screen Resolution.  This might seem ridiculous, but there’s a new feature on the Vibe that allows for the brightness to be turned up/down with a click.  The button on the edge of the pump with the little lock (or lightbulb, or whatever that icon is)  makes whatever screen you’re on brighter, or less bright, with a click. I like this more than I should, I think.

Food Database.  I haven’t used the Ping meter in a few years (I switched to the Verio when it came out, and am now using the Sync), so I haven’t done much with the food database in the past.  On the Vibe, the food database is built into the pump, so if I go in to give a bolus and use the EZCarb bolus, I can access a customizable database on the pump itself.  I haven’t had much time to play around with this feature yet, but I plan to as I fiddle around with the pump.  (One note:  on the “snack” screen, the food options are all junk food.  Chocolate cake, cannoli, donut holes, key lime pie, just to name a few.  Who categorized these as “snacks” instead of “junk food”?  Confused the small, rational part of my brain.)

To that same end about not using the Ping meter for a while now, it’s important to note that the loss of meter remote capability in the Vibe vs. the Ping did not matter to me at all. I haven’t used the meter remote option in ages, so not being able to use it with the Vibe made zero difference to me. Your preferences will vary, of course.

WearabilityFor better or for worse, this pump does not feel different on my body because it is essentially the same physical pump shape/size on my body.  Having worn the Ping now since switching to Animas, the Vibe feels the same.  But, for the record, I did try a blue pump this time instead of my time worn silver one, which feels sassy.  Also, not needing to carry the Dexcom receiver makes for a lighter purse.  (And when my purse holds glucose tabs, my meter, an insulin pen, car keys, wallet, gum, Batman, and a deck of Crazy Mates on an average day, one less thing is awesome.)

Battery Concerns.  Since it’s only been a few days, I don’t know how quickly running the CGM and the insulin pump will burn through the battery.  As it stands now, my Ping went through about one battery per month (maybe every 5 weeks), and my concern is that the Vibe will require more battery change outs.  Time, again, will tell.

Software Questions.  I haven’t uploaded my data to Diasend yet, but I’m excited to see what the overlap looks like for my pump, CGM, and blood sugar data.  My past experiences with Diasend have been good – I like the software – but I’m not the best at uploading data from my pump (read:  I never, ever do it because the process is annoying).  I’m hoping that future iterations of the upload process make it more plug-and-play instead of “hey, weird dongle.”

Overall, I’m excited about the Vibe.  (And even if you aren’t, let me be excited, would you please?  I’m appreciating the fact that this system has finally been approved in the US.)  I like carrying one less device while still using the CGM and pump combination that I trust and prefer (bias, bias, remember). 

I’m looking forward to sharing thoughts at the close of this trial period, and then moving forward with a Vibe of my own … even if the name of the product gives me a bit of a smirky smirk.

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Battery: You won’t notice a difference. I use one lithium every 4-6 weeks.

    You have indicated all of my concerns and loves for this. I should note that I didn’t and do not have access to a Dexcom receiver but would love to use the Cloud when I travel or to teach about the CGM technology impacting my life. But, I think I would feel the same about the colours of the graph! I am so used to this set up I don’t know if I would immediately catch the red/yellow vs blue green etc.

    01/5/15; 10:09 am
  2. ashley paul #

    I have been with medtronic for over 10 years and I have decided to make the switch to the animas vibe! So good to hear your opinion. I am losing track of my receiver constantly so I am hoping this will help with that:) I am very very nervous about the learning curve.

    01/5/15; 10:12 am
  3. Hey Kerri. Thanks for sharing; I have a follow up question. I’m on the fence, (currently a Ping user with a June warranty end date) but need to make a decision this week… either Vibe or back on Dexcom. The remote access is something I use constantly, so that’s my biggest hang up. I was curious to note your reference to the option of having a Dex receiver as well. My question is this: Does the Dex receiver come with the Vibe, or would that be a separate purchase as well? If I could also have a receiver, I think that would cinch my decision, but if it’s two costs, I can’t afford it. Thanks again for the info, and I look forward to hearing back.

    01/5/15; 10:21 am
    • Steph #

      Hi Victoria,

      Received my Vibe yesterday and was disappointed that it doesn’t have the remote option as well! I loved that when I wore dresses, skirts, etc and had to hide the pump creatively. I’m pretty much always wearing some sort of spanx situation so I would also conceal the pump in the spanx somehow. Not easy to retrieve it on the fly.

      Kerri – just curious – any posts about how you wear dresses/skirts with the pump? Whenever I’m at work or out in public and need to give insulin, I do it through the remote. Now I assume I’ll have to go into a ladies room or have someone cover me. Constantly trying and failing to be ladylike on a normal day let alone having to fish my pump out of weird places 🙂

      Thanks!!!

      01/22/15; 10:27 am
  4. John Costik #

    Hi!
    Running both the Vibe and an independent G4 receiver will not impact the transmitter battery life. The transmitter merely broadcasts the BG data every 5 minutes. Any device configured to listen and interpret the transmitter data can do so. The transmitter doesn’t pair with individual receiving devices, so any number of receivers can listen without impacting the transmitter in any way.
    You will undoubtedly notice differences in the displayed BG values, unless you have 100% consistency in calibration and received BG data (no missed transmissions or missing the same data). You will notice more differences if the Vibe is running the older (non 505 upgraded) Dexcom G4 calibration and denoising algorithms.

    01/5/15; 10:34 am
  5. Mark Haywood #

    dont update you Dexcom software. Not as accurate. Can’t wait too get the Vibe so I can have my old algorithm back.

    01/5/15; 11:18 am
  6. Rachna #

    What do you think of the fact that there is no remote meter that syncs to the Vibe? Do you input directly in the pump to calculate your next bolus? This is my only hesitation in getting the Vibe since I keep my pump in my bra.

    01/5/15; 2:24 pm
  7. I don’t know what to think of the new algorithm. I’ve updated and I find it “more” accurate than before. It is over the same number as my meter or within 5. It seems more responsive to calibrations. But is my meter right? And why do other people think it is less accurate? I didn’t have accuracy issues before so is being within 5 better than being with 15? Aren’t we supposed to just be watching the arrows anyway? (thank you for letting me vent)

    I wish the Vibe CGM screen had a shorter Y-axis. Hopefully a lot of wasted space for most people. I only use the remote when I’m wearing a dress and I only wear a dress when I have to so it was easy for me to give up.

    I can’t wait for mine to arrive so I can work out the rest of the details myself.

    01/5/15; 7:25 pm
  8. Gerald #

    Hey Kerri. Thanks for your impressions. I have just requested my upgrade pump! I too had many grumpy moments (and still do) with my Ping coming from Minimed. Maybe you can let us know if the Vibe solves these issues. First, the menu scrolls up and down and does not cycle from bottom to top if pressing down or up past the last selection. Drives me crazy. Second, when you use ezCarb or ezBG, the Ping forced you to “dial up” the bolus dose. This was frustrating because there is serious lag when holding down the arrow button and I constantly overshot the number and had to adjust down or up before the bolus. Last, there is no back button to shuffle through screens. These are things I learned to live with because I have to with this pump, however, these simple things may be fixed in the Vibe. Please let us know what you think.

    Thanks!

    01/5/15; 7:51 pm
    • When scrolling through the menus, it does not cycle back to the top once you hit the bottom of the list. The dialing up for the bolus isn’t an issue anymore for the Vibe because with one click, the bolus autopopulates based on the data. There is also a back arrow on the screens (but not a back button on the pump itself), which does allow for going back.

      All the rest of the “curve” that comes with switching pumps does ease, in time. I don’t think it matters what pump you are switching from/to – going from one pump to another requires a grace period! 🙂

      01/5/15; 10:54 pm
  9. Nick #

    I wore the Vibe with the G4P software, and at the same time used the G4AP 505 upgrade and saw no meaningful difference. It actually was uncanny how in sync they were, one would alarm and the other would immediately or 5 minutes later. I don’t think people will see problems with big differences. They are both better than Medtronic accuracy.
    I agree with John Costik- there will be no effect on the transmitter battery life, because it sends a radio signal pulse every 5 minutes. You can have more than one radio turned to the same signal- this is no difference.
    The 505 upgrade is more accurate based on the MARD reported, but the prior one was pretty good. I don’t think an individual really can tell without doing stats on your own data. So I disagree with Mark Haywood.
    Options are always healthy. The only downside I see to the Vibe is not have Dexcom Studio software, which is fantastic and complete. But Diasend does integrate insulin bolus data.

    01/5/15; 10:01 pm
    • Carol #

      Nick,
      So you wore the new Vibe with the updated adult receiver? That is what I am about to order. Using the receiver in Dexcom Share at night. I was wondering if I will be getting alarms go off at different times driving me crazy. I will still have to acknowledge the alarms on both devices I guess.
      Carol

      01/6/15; 8:07 am
  10. Siri #

    There´s no backbutton on the Vibe, but there´s a shortcut:
    1. Activate the audio bolus feature
    2. Whenever you´re stuck somewhere in the menu system and you want to go back, push the button on the right hand side of the pump, then press the OK-button and you´re back to the home screen.

    01/6/15; 4:19 am
  11. Hi Kerri,

    In the event that my daughter wanted to take a pump vacay I’m assuming that the vibe would just continue to function as the cgm receiver but I hate to assume. Can you verify that for me please or point me to someone who can? Another benefit about that scenario might also be the option to replace the vibe’s battery vs. having to buy a new receiver every year or so.

    Thanks

    01/6/15; 1:58 pm
  12. Cale #

    A huge factor that I will miss with Medtronic is that my Bayer meter instantly sends results to the pump. I was disappointed to see the Animas didn’t have a similar feature.

    Seriously, how easy would it have been to have a similar meter setup that then syncs with the Dexcom feature. You literally wouldn’t have to calibrate! Maybe the Dex could have been programmed to only take one of the meter results every 12 hours because I’ve heard it’s possible to over calibrate the device.

    01/6/15; 7:34 pm
  13. Ann Schlottman #

    Hi! Do you know if I will need a new transmitter for my Vibe, or will I be able to use the one I already have for my Dexcom until it needs to be replaced? Thank you for the great feedback on the Vibe! I can’t wait to get mine!

    01/7/15; 6:19 pm
  14. Dan #

    The new algorithm for the Dexcom software (release 505) is slightly more accurate on Day 1 of sensor wear. If you have a high white blood cell (wound response) when inserting your sensor, this may be of value to you (+/ 9-10 %) The firmware in the Vibe will not include this new algorithm and one tends to believe with regulatory approval this update probably won’t happen…..ever.. The real interesting thing to watch will be the Dexcom Gen 5 which by all conceivable purposes might very well be available by fourth quarter of 2015, first quarter 2016 and link to your IPhone, also specifically with Apple Healthcare (which may integrate with other Apps) and the Apple Watch.. I’m all for seeing my blood glucose and glycemic variability on an Apple Watch linked to my Iphone because from a usability and feasibility standpoint many people never leave either their watch or their phone far from themselves.

    01/13/15; 12:03 am
  15. Nolan Kienitz #

    From what I’ve been reading one has to manually input all parameters in the Vibe rather than being able to download the old Ping settings (assuming one is using a Ping) from EZ-Manager MAX and Dexcom Studio.

    I’ve sent messages to my Animas contacts asking about the s/w compatibility and the Vibe with CGMS operating.

    My queries also included DiaSend as an alternative.

    Kerri – have you heard anything about the s/w for uploading/downloading?

    Cheers,

    Nolan K.
    Plano, TX

    01/15/15; 1:20 pm
  16. Nolan Kienitz #

    Update: I just did a quick look at the compatible devices at the Diasend site and they are listing the Vibe as being OK.

    Good news …

    Cheers,

    Nolan K.
    Plano, TX

    01/15/15; 1:28 pm
  17. Jeremy #

    I am thinking about switching from the Medtronic Paradigm 723 to the Animas Vibe, what route did you guys take to switch? Do you just call up Animas and see if your insurance will cover it?

    I would love to hear the differences between the two and any other things you find important.

    Jeremy

    01/22/15; 12:42 pm
  18. Jonny Roy #

    What I find extremely frustrating is when I switched to the Vibe and had any tech questions at all, neither Animas or Dexcom would answer the question. Animas would say, “Oh, that’s a Dexcom issue and Dexcom would say that’s an Animas question.” Meanwhile, I’ve been on hold between the two for two hours. I think they need to have a Integrated tech team that can answer any and all questions. I find the Vibe to have some glitches and and have gotten so frustrated I wanted to get my Ping back. When you go to calibrate, why does the prompt go to cancel rather than calibrate? It’s an unnecessary extra step. Also, I get prompted constantly with, “Calibration is by finger stick only, then confirm that question. Uh, duh, by why does it ask me three times a day and then when you confirm that question 9 times out of 10, it will go to ERR1 and locks me out of the graph for over an hour. Then while you’re locked out the alarm goes off every 15 minutes with no way of shutting it off. So, in the middle of the night, that really pisses you off.
    Right now, I’m not a fan, but I’m stuck with it, so I’ll have to try and live in harmony with this thing. 🙁

    03/10/15; 8:18 pm
    • Nolan Kienitz #

      Jonny Roy,

      I’ve had the very same terrible experience with C.S. from both Animas and Dexcom with respect to the Vibe/CGM. I was bounced back/forth between PA and CA one afternoon for over two hours with each office saying it was the other companies problem. I finally hung up and sent an extremely irate email to my local Dexcom and Animas contacts (D/FW area).

      They got back to me quickly and escalated my lengthy message to the higher-ups. I got a call from someone at Dexcom (if I recall) apologizing for the problems with lack of support and that they would be addressed ASAP. I’m not holding my breath.

      I also have frustration about the calibrate going to ‘cancel’ instead of ‘calibrate’. Un-necessary extra button pushes. The warnings are also very frustrating. I would like to be able to toggle them on/off, but can’t do so.

      I’ve also noted that when I start a new sensor I get the ANT label for some time before the battery display shows up. I’m still running my Dexcom receiver and it starts up in a heartbeat with no problem … no ANT symbol or loss of signal.

      I’ve experienced multiple signal losses on the Vibe/CGM and absolutely none on the Dexcom receiver.

      I’ve hesitated calling for support too quickly as I’m not at all excited about getting back in the tennis match between Animas in PA and Dexcom in CA.

      Maybe I’ll give them a call tomorrow … 🙁

      Cheers,

      Nolan K.
      Plano, TX

      03/19/15; 4:11 pm
      • Tom #

        Jonny/Nolan,
        Keep us posted on responses from companies.
        Thinking of switching to Vibe/Dexcom, but if I can’t turn off alarm at night, that could be a show stopper
        Tom

        03/25/15; 10:31 am
    • @Johnny and @Nolan,

      I’m just wondering if you are still having the same thoughts on the Animas Vibe, and if there has been any update to the issues, or if it’s just a learning experience and getting used to the extra button presses?

      Thanks,
      Scott

      07/4/15; 1:06 pm
  19. Bob Lasher #

    I have to say that after 15 year of using a minimed, I’m ruing the day I decided to go to an Animas (vibe). During many functions, the same question keeps coming to mind: Do any of the people who design this thing, ever use it?! I never thought that with my mini-med.

    Here are some examples: There’s no way to shut off the alarm on the pump. If you try to suspend it, you get incessant, annoying regular alarms. Instead, you have to set the basal rate to “off,” but that is limited to only 30 minute increments.

    You can only scroll through menus in ONE direction, which makes software navigation annoyingly cumbersome.

    Lastly is the fact that every time there’s a slight bump of the pump or tug on the tube, you get a “Pump not primed” warning and have to re-prime – even though it actually is primed. Plus, once you get that warning, the pump shuts down! No bolusing, no basal… nothing – until you re-prime. It’s colossally annoying.

    If ever there were a need for a user focus group for the pump designers/engineers – this is it.

    Bottom line: I would warn anyone away from this pump… and that’s after moving to this pump from a mini-med that was 10 years old!

    01/10/16; 1:17 am
  20. Scott Lasater #

    I don’t know anything about this pump. I just want to warn you about Animas. This is the WORST company on the planet when it comes to customers service. They are completely incompetent. It took 2 years for them to change our address. During that 2 years they never billed us. We would ask, and they said insurance was paying. When they got our address right, all of the sudden we owe a bunch of money! Now I have to fight with them twice a month to get supplies. Each phone call is at least 30 to 45 minutes. 1 for ordering, then another to fight with accounting. Then, maybe, they’ll ship. Or not. Even if they say they will. 1/2 the time it’s a lie.

    THESE ARE LIFE SAVING MEDICAL SUPPLIES FOR MY DAUGHTER YOU BUNCH OF MINDLESS TOOLS!

    02/3/16; 2:53 pm
  21. Kristen #

    This may be a dumb question but how do I get the G4 receiver working with the Vibe? We had a Ping and G4 Dex and I’d like to also use the Dex receiver when my son is in range. Most importantly at night. It’s seems you are using both. I feel like it’s a simple answer.
    Thanks
    Kristen and Max.

    04/18/16; 3:46 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. My Animas Vibe #PumpTrial | Ask Manny Hernandez
  2. Chipped Battery Cap. - Six Until Me - diabetes blog
  3. Getting My Vibe On with Animas After Years of Anticipation
  4. The Vibe: Should I Upgrade? | Test Guess and Go
  5. Animas Vibe: A Few Weeks Later. - Six Until Me - diabetes blog

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