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Animas Vibe: A Few Weeks Later.

Again, disclosure:  I work with Animas and have a sponsorship contract.  Here are more details on my disclosures. And this is the Mr. Plow theme song.  Mr. Plow would be great, about now, since the snow keeps dumping down outside.

It’s been several weeks since I’ve switched to the Animas Vibe insulin pump (with integrated CGM technology – doesn’t that sound like a rehearsed phrase?  How about “insulin thing with CGM thing built in and have you seen my coffee, pleaseandthankyou.”), and I thought I’d take a crack at some second impressions, since the first impressions were only compiled after a few days.

Talking ‘Bout CGM:  I am still into the concept and application of having one device that does the work of two.  While the Vibe still requires that I wear an insulin pump infusion set and a CGM sensor as two separate insertions, it removes the need for an external CGM receiver.  I wrote about this last time, but to reiterate:  I am okay with not using the separate receiver.  I’ve traveled a lot in the last few weeks and the first few trips, I brought along my CGM receiver so I could plug it into the SHARE port.

For the record, I still haven’t upgraded to the 505 software.  Judge all you want.  🙂  Which may explain my identical CGM graphs.  (And, also for the record, I’m really, really excited to see the new Dexcom receiver.  That may change how I feel about clouding, as it would be much simpler.)

But then Chris and I came to realize that we aren’t good at this whole “data sharing” thing.  As much as it sounds like a good plan in theory, we aren’t good at the application of it.  I think this becomes a patient-specific preference sort of thing, and for this PWD, I’m not a data-sharer.  But as I mentioned with that previous dead horse that I keep flogging, I like options.  Love them, actually.  And anything that gives data options – LIFE options – to people touched by diabetes, I am all for it.

(That sentence was a grammatical nightmare.  Ignore the sloppy parts and move on, yes?)

DiasendYesterday, for the first time in a long time, I downloaded (uploaded? loaded.) my data to Diasend.

The data collection portion is cumbersome.  I hate dongles and charging cords and all the extra beeps and wires required to make sense of diabetes data.  (Which is why I’m such a fan of the Verio Sync idea, which uses bluetooth technology to automagically suck the results off my meter and spit them into my iPhone, but there are issues with that system, too, because it’s only iOS compatible.  Pluses in one way, minuses in another.  But see aforementioned “I love options” sentiment, because it still applies.)  But I did download my pump data, which also downloaded my CGM data.  And, because I was feeling ambitious, I uploaded my glucose meter, too.

So this was my first time looking at Diasend with information about my insulin doses, glucose meter results, and CGM results on the same screen.  (No, I am not sharing my results.  My numbers have been absolute shit lately and I’m not going to pepper my blog with confirmation that I have diabetes.  I’ll let the c-peptide test that’s required by my insurance in order to cover my insulin pump serve as that confirmation.  Yes, that’s a thing.  Yes, more on that later.)

Diasend is good for granular information, but the information on the “compilation” tab was ace for me.  Seeing my blood sugar averages based on time of day was powerful.  (I have midnight to 11 am nailed and awesome.  Everything not in that time frame needs a solid snuggle these days.)   As a Mac user who hasn’t explored the new Dexcom/Mac Portrait (I’m woefully behind on everything that doesn’t involve Birdy these days), seeing my Dexcom data on my laptop is amazing.  I’ll be exploring Portrait in the next few days but in the meantime, I’m happy that information can be siphoned over to Diasend.  And it puts the constant flow of data into digestible context.

Pump Stuff.  Since I was a Ping user before, using the Vibe feels familiar and easy.  I’m still glad this sucker is waterproof and the button clicking process is familiar to me.  All of that feels the same.  One thing I have noticed is that the more my CGM needs attention, the faster the battery in my pump needs replacing.  This is annoying, but makes sense despite the annoyance.  For the first time ever, I’ve invested in lithium batteries for my pump and it seems to hold much better than the alkaline ones I have been using for the last … forever.  But overall, the pump feels familiar and comfortable, and since I hate change, that familiarity is a plus for me.

Alarms, for whatever reason, remain easier to hear and feel when they are coming from the pump.  This was a huge concern of mine because I thought the pump alarms would be muffled by clothes and bedding, making them hard to catch.  But I actually respond to low and high alarms more readily on the Vibe.  I am not sure why.  Maybe because it’s attached to my hip and I feel the vibration?

What remains to be seen is how the changing state of Dexcom progress will affect my feelings about this pump.  Right now, it’s the only one integrated with the CGM I already use, so that’s a huge plus.  But I am concerned about the fact that the software in the Vibe is already behind on the current Dexcom system.  I know the FDA process creates hurdles that are hard to clear, but since the Vibe has already cleared the Big One, can I expect that updates and upgrades will come fast and furious?  As a PWD using the Animas product, I hope this is the case.

And lastly, I’m hoping to have this pump covered by my insurance company.  I’m still trying to get a c-peptide test done (travel, snow, and issues with fasting) to fulfill the requirements issued by Blue Cross Blue Shield, so that journey remains ongoing.

Thankfully, I’m still pretty effing sure I have diabetes.   So yay?  Yay.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. For whatever it may be worth, I am not a fan of the 505 upgrade. I was at first, but now I’m not so sure. I wish I hadn’t upgraded both of my receivers so I could do a test run between the both of them in hopes to prove my thinking wrong.

    Either way, I love that Animas finally has their approval and can sell the Vibe here. I hope you get approval soon. (also, I love that you chose a blue pump this time! 😀 )

    02/9/15; 1:49 pm
  2. Sarah #

    Thank you for your insights and follow-up on the Vibe. I have been a Minimed pumper since 1991. I am 95% certain I will go with a Vibe when my current warranty expires in March. The only thing keeping me from being 100% sure is the lag in Dexcom software. Please keep us posted with any further thoughts. And stay warm!!!!

    02/9/15; 3:49 pm
  3. Beth #

    Thanks for the update. It seemed like a lot of the trial users were Medtronic pump people, so I was glad for your perspective as a Ping + Dex users pre-Vibe. I’m still pretty much on the fence, for some of the reasons you mentioned, but am also really excited about the new Dexcom receiver as I am an iOS user. As you say …options are never bad!!

    02/9/15; 4:45 pm
  4. My mind is blown: “For the first time ever, I’ve invested in lithium batteries for my pump and it seems to hold much better than the alkaline ones I have been using…”

    I didn’t know we had an option!

    I mean, I read the instructions and thought we could use alkaline in like…an apocalyptic emergency. I didn’t know they would work for normal life! Handy knowledge!

    I love reading your pump review and also Christel’s today. My person, eligible for new pump at the end of this year, is sold on T-Slim. We would not know anything about anything else without your posts.

    02/9/15; 9:25 pm
  5. Thank you for sharing both your own experiences, which are immensely valuable, as well as product/technology news, which I don’t find anywhere else!

    I just sent an email to Dexcom, asking why they haven’t sent an announcement to their customers (me at least) about these new advances. I just used Portrait for Mac and it’s great! I didn’t know this was an option before. (I also learned about Diasend from you, which is helpful too).

    I’m a 39 year multiple injection user, seriously looking at pump options for the first time, so I love reading your reviews and real-life stories. Thanks!

    02/9/15; 11:31 pm
  6. Kerri, I think you nailed it when you talked about personal preferences, and the fact that we need options so we can employ our personal preferences at our own discretion. Or something like that.

    Thanks for the update on the Vibe… this is the most descriptive thing I’ve read about it yet.

    Oh, and I purchase lithium batteries for my pump for the first time last week. It must be a thing.

    02/10/15; 6:00 am
  7. Sal #

    I am expecting delivery of my new Vibe today and was pleased to find your blog with the details on your user experience. I also appreciate your honesty about Type 1 diabetes!

    I am 63 years old and a Type 1 for 56 years. My care began with boiling glass insulin syringes to sterilize before each use, sharpening needles, and urine testing for sugar. I have been a pumper for 15 years, and it has really changed my life.

    My current system is the Animas Ping system and a separate Dexcom G4 Platinum for glucose monitoring. The new 505 has made a noticeable difference in accuracy and I am somewhat bothered that the Vibe doesn’t have it. Time will give a better picture of results.

    I will be out of warranty in 2016 and glad I will have the option to make a change if needed at that time. I am intrigued by T-Slim, but their new pump/glucose monitor, just submitted to the FDA, will also not have the 505

    I am so grateful for the life I have, there are challenges and irritations, but there are many smiles also!

    02/10/15; 10:02 am
  8. Becky #

    I wish Dexcom would get on the bandwagon of making the share data available for us MAC users!

    02/10/15; 1:03 pm
  9. Mark #

    I recently qualified for a pump replacement and would have loved to have gone with the Vibe, since I’m currently a Minimed pump and Dexcom G4 user. The deal-killer for me was the 2 ml insulin reservoir constraint on the Vibe and the fact that when I was comparing the pumps about a month ago, I couldn’t find a belt clip that allowed me to see the CGM info on the Vibe pump in the same orientation as I can by using the G4 with the Dexcom belt clip. I ended up going with the Minimed 530G and have run Enilte and Dexom sensors simultaneously for a couple weeks. I can say that I will not use the Enlite sensors due to their inaccuracy compared to the G4. The fact that the 530G pump refuses to display CGM data if not calibrated as required (i.e., about 8 hours apart) was also a big negative for the Enlite sensors.

    02/10/15; 5:47 pm
  10. Alex #

    I don’t know if I missed your comments anywhere, but how has the lack of a remote affected you? I use my remote all the time because I generally put my pump in my bra, so I am not sure that I would like not having it….

    02/10/15; 7:39 pm
    • I haven’t used the remote in about three years. I rarely used the remote even when I used the Ping meter, but after switching to the Verio line of meters, I haven’t given the remote any thought at all. (But I still wear my pump in my bra. Audio bolusing is my friend!)

      02/10/15; 9:47 pm
  11. Garry B #

    I have been a pumper since 2006, and started out using an Animas IR-1250, which is currently connected to me, BTW. I have had no major problems with my pump, though the case cracked at the battery cap on my first pump, which was replaced under warranty, and within the last 6 months, this one has cracked in the same place, and is also no longer waterproof due to the crack (super glue can do wonders, btw). It has also developed a problem where I occasionally get a “call for service” alarm and sometimes the pump will not load during a cartridge/set change, and therefore have to use a long prime to load as well. But, for the age of this particular pump (6 years), I still believe in the Animas pumps. Needless to say I had looked at all of the pumps over the years and was originally going to get a Cosmo, but in retrospect, glad I didn’t since they have been discontinued. Not sure about the t:slim or the Asante Snap. I was thinking about the Medtronic pump this time, and quickly dismissed the OmniPod, Sooil Dana, and the Roche Spirit. My choices were really down to the Medtronic or the Vibe. After reading the reports of inaccuracy with the Medtronic CGM system, I decided on the Vibe. Insurance approval was very easy and only took about 2 weeks (possibly because I was already a pump user–Cigna didn’t ask me to jump through flaming hoops–just a few questions, a prescription, and a letter of medical necessity was all it took).

    Some of the concerns noted previously don’t really bother me–I’ve never used the Ping or any other pump with any type of remote function, so having to manually enter info on the pump is not new to me. I’ve also never used any CGM system, so using the Dexcom will be a learning curve for me. My Dexcom transmitter and 4 pack of sensors is sitting here, and just waiting for my Vibe to arrive tomorrow. I do have to say that there was one huge advantage of staying with Animas. Since my 1250 is out of warranty and fully paid for, it is not eligible for any upgrade and is mine to keep. The cartridges are the same between the 1250, 2020, Ping, and Vibe, and of course, all use a standard Luer lock infusion set (which was actually another turn off with the Medtronics). So, with that being the case, I now have a spare pump I can use in case of an emergency failure of the Vibe, and I don’t need different supplies to do so. Granted I won’t use my blue 1250, except in an emergency or possibly for traveling, but am anxious to get my new silver Vibe!

    02/18/15; 7:51 pm
  12. Hi, long time listener, first time caller here. (Or maybe I commented years ago and just don’t remember. Lot of late nights, very possible). I have a 5 yr old who’s been using medtronic pump for 4 yrs, and I’m thinking a change is gonna come. Many have tried to steer me towards Omnipod, but I have some weird instinctive-feeling of shying away from that. Really interested in Animas and why someone like you- so experienced and on top of your management – has chosen it over others. I like how there seems to be Dexcom integration in the works, but the biggest seller for me would be consistent, reliable insulin delivery. Is that too much to ask? How well have your infusion sites held up w Animas? Are you in a trusting relationship with them? (Granted, for a woman, it’s easier to find more squishy spots than on a skinny 5 yr old boy….)

    03/30/15; 12:43 am
  13. Jim #

    Kerri,

    Hi we are new to the CGM and to the Vibe. The new Vibe was delivered yesterday and the G4 transmitter today. I have a question you may or may not want to getiinto online. I see you are a data person as well as we are. I’m a software engineer and would like to get my hands on some of the Vibe/CGM data. But everywhere I ask I get directed to diasend. I don’t want diasend to tell me what I’m looking for I want the data to tell me what I can do for my daughter. Do you know of anywhere I can get some real data to start looking at to see what I can do with it?

    Jim (Parent of 15YO T1D)

    06/16/15; 2:51 pm

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