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Posts from the ‘Pumping Insulin’ Category

Airplane Site Changes: A Grost.

Earlier this week, I flew to San Diego to visit with the team at Tandem and brainstorm some plans for 2016.  It was a quick trip (managed to land right when that weird storm was picking up speed – made for a very exciting landing and also reinforced my hatred of flying), but a productive one.

On Tuesday morning, before leaving for the airport, I needed to change my pump site.  In the winter, my skin has a tendency to become scalier and more irritated than in the warmer months, so skin real estate is a real issue, and site rotation is important, yet it’s challenging to find a place that wasn’t already somewhat rotten.

Against my better judgement (and mostly because I was in a hurry), I made the mistake of inserting my infusion set onto the back of my hip.  Normally, this placement is awesome and totally out of the way, but that morning, I managed to stick the site exactly where my waistband was situated.  It was also exactly where I would put my hands when pulling my pants on or off, making it a high traffic site.  But whatever – I was in a hurry, the skin was good there, and I’d just be really, really careful when sitting / visiting the ladies room / getting dressed.

I made it about six hours before I ripped the site off completely.

This moment happened at the end of my five hour flight home from San Diego, as the plane was starting to land.  Thanks to a paranoia about blot clots (hat tip to that pesky Factor V Leiden bastard), I drink a lot of water on long flights and get up from my seat very often.  (Apologies to anyone who has ever sat next to me on a plane.)  I wanted to duck into the bathroom very quickly before the plane landed, and in my haste, ripped the pump site out with swift precision.

Blood streamed down the side of my hip. Not optimal.  In a panic, I looked at the bathroom walls and door to make sure my grossness was contained, and thankfully it was, except now I had bloody paper towels and the plane was descending quickly and fuck I needed a new site in a hurry.  After cleaning myself off (stuffing the bloody paper towels into my pocket because I didn’t want to throw them in the garbage), I went back to my seat and said a silent thank you to my always-over packed carry-on.  A large Ziploc plastic bag that carried snacks and glucose tabs was emptied out and became the medical waste bag.  As the flight attendants were preparing the cabin for landing, I grabbed my extra infusion set and stuck it into my stomach without anyone noticing.  A quick fill of the cannula and I was back in business.  My horrible paper towels and infusion set garbage were contained and concealed without issue.

THIS IS WHY I OVERPACK.  Every time.  I get some flack for keeping an infusion set in my purse all the time and for carrying insulin pens, too, because rarely, rarely is there an issue.  I could not have foreseen the need to change out my site at my seat on the plane (fuck you, Miss Manners), but when I ripped out my site, it was less jarring to discreetly change my site than to spend the next two hours driving home to Rhode Island from Boston without insulin.

The moral of this story?  Insulin is necessary on the ground and at 37,000 feet.  Be prepared when you travel.  And for crying out loud, bring back ups because Insets are only available in first class.

Pump Peelz Giveaway: Now with More Superheroes!

You guys.  The team at Pump Peelz (Scott and Emily) have returned with new designs for their very clever diabetes device decorations and a very generous gift card giveaway for Six Until Me readers.  That’s all the lead-in I’m giving because that’s all the lead-in you need.

GIVEAWAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!

To enter the giveaway, you need to leave a comment on this post that includes a fictional diabetes superhero name and that superhero’s special power *.  The contest is open as of right this second and it closes on Sunday (1/10) at 7 pm ET.  Three winners will be announced on Monday morning, with the first winner receiving a $25 gift card, the second place winner earning a $10 gift card, and third place wins a $5 gift card.

(First, second, and third will be determined arbitrarily by Loopy … or me.)

Thanks, Pump Peelz team, for providing another fun and one-of-a-kind giveaway!  I’m looking forward to seeing the entries.

(* After consulting my daughter, she decided that the superhero would be “Super Diabetes Guy/Lady” and their special power would be touching their nose and either giving, or taking away, someone’s diabetes.  Then she touched my nose.  “Took away your diabetes, Mom,” but then, a second later, “Mom, gimme your nose so I can get this diabetes off my finger.”)

 

New Year, New Disclosure.

Disclosures are important, so I’m making a new one today, and my disclosure policy has been updated accordingly.  There are some big changes on deck for 2016, with the first one being a change in some of the companies I’m partnering with.  Which is why I’ve decided to end my contract with Animas, because it was time for a change.

I wore a Medtronic pump for seven years before switching to Animas, and I’ve worn my Animas pump for the last six years.  Both of these pumps are solid insulin delivery devices and worked great, and Animas has been wonderful to work with and for, and I’m forever grateful for their support over the last few years.  But change is necessary at times.

Over the last two years, I’ve had some non-diabetes health hurdles (everything is fine, promise) and those issues put a different lens onto how I viewed my diabetes.  I wanted frustrations with diabetes kept at an absolute minimum.  Sometimes that meant ditching all technologies for a few weeks in order to give my body some breathing room, and to give my mind the opportunity to focus on the basics of my diabetes.  (I did MDI a few times this year, for several weeks, and it was good to revisit that method of delivery.  I learned, and relearned, a lot.)  Sometimes that meant acknowledging that the features I needed and appreciated were allowed to change.

But ultimately, it meant that I needed to let myself move on to different technologies that better suited my diabetes needs these days, and to different opportunities that fit where I’d like to lend my voice.

So here’s the disclosure:  I have signed an agreement with Tandem Diabetes Care.  My new agreement with Tandem went into effect on January 1st, and includes compensation for consulting services, including speaking on Tandem’s behalf at diabetes-related events. When speaking on Tandem’s behalf at such events, my relationship with Tandem will be disclosed to the audience.  (They won’t be involved in everything I do this year, so I’ll make sure I disclose appropriately when they are.)  With my physician’s prescription, Tandem provided me with products at no charge, including a loaner Tandem insulin pump and the cartridges and infusion sets I need to use the pump. Tandem does not compensate me for content on Six Until Me.  All of the content on Six Until Me remains my own, per usual, so my apologies that things aren’t suddenly going to become All Professional.

I’m really looking forward to working with the team at Tandem, and continuing to draw inspiration from the diabetes community as a whole.

And getting back to blogging.

And finding where the cats hid all of Birdzone’s hair ties.

Bionic Pancreas Update and Call to Action.

A few weeks ago, I met with Ed Damiano and we spent an afternoon talking about recent developments in the bionic pancreas program and what’s up next.

“Here’s our new device,” he said, placing the iLet on his desk, inadvertently putting it right next to his cell phone, which didn’t look much bigger/thicker by comparison.  (I asked for a quarter for comparison, because otherwise this thing could look as small as a whisper, or as big as a toaster, depending on how you feel about devices that day.)

“It’s pretty.  In that device sort of way.  So this is the single device, right?  No more two pumps, one CGM receiver, etc?”

“Yes.  We have two different cartridges in this single device – one for insulin, one for glucagon – that will absolutely not fit in the wrong way.  You can’t make a mistake; there’s no cross-channeling.  The cartridges are already filled, so they aren’t dealing with air bubbles.  There’s no LCD in this device, as that contributes to the bulk, and the e-ink screen [similar to that of an Amazon Kindle] has good contrast and good resolution.  It also has capacitive touch.”

I’ve seen the older device in action at Clara Barton Camp last summer.  It was amazing to hear what little kids thought about wearing three different devices.  But one device should be easier to tolerate, especially when your blood glucose is in range as a result.  So what’s the next step?  How does this thing go from on your desk to on my hip?”

“The iLet exists because of donations from people who believe in this project.  We want to build the consumable parts of this within the next nine months – that’s the infusion sets, tubing, and caps.  We’re on track to do that if we can get the money raised throughout the end of this year.  1.5 million is our 2015 goal.  The next big goal is to test in clinical trials by the last quarter 2016.”

“Tell me more about the clinical trials?”

“Trials will take place in four different sites, out-patient study that’s several weeks long.  It’s a bridging study that goes from the iPhone-based system to the iLet – helps pave the path final pivotal trial.  The pivotal trial takes us straight to FDA submission.  Each study substantiates and builds confidence between investigators and agencies.”

As a person with diabetes, it’s weird to be reminded of many hands are involved in allowing access to technology development and release into the wild.  And how much money is required.

“Can you show me how far we’ve come?  I saw the new iLet device at Friends for Life this summer, but some perspective would be awesome.  What did the first iteration look like?”

Ed’s team kindly dug back into the archives for this photo, which shows the old laptop-based system attached to a study participant.  (And for another old-school take, you can read Abby’s experience with the clinical trials here and here.)

From a team and a laptop and tubes and wires to a single device.  This is the kind of progress that excites me, because it’s happening NOW and the results have already changed lives.  After close to thirty years with diabetes, I’ve seen progress that has made insulin delivery easier and glucose monitoring easier, but the bionic pancreas is a whole new and astounding shift towards life with diabetes.

“And once it’s all said and done, there will be a device similar in look and feel to what I’m using now, only it will be a closed loop.  Which means the pump and the sensor talk to one another, and work with one another independent of my interaction.  Which means I don’t have to think about diabetes nearly as much.  Maybe not much at all,” I said to Chris, all in one breath, when I got home.  “I’m excited.  This is exciting.  I haven’t been this excited in a long, long time about diabetes.”

I believe that the bionic pancreas technology will make my diabetes less of an intrusion, ripping the dangling preposition “with diabetes” off of my life.

To learn more about the bionic pancreas program, please visit the website.  And if you believe in this mission, please consider making a donation to the project.

 

All Night Long.

It started out innocently enough.  Just a wiggly little drop before bedtime with a bit of insulin on board, so the need for snacking was elevated.

With .8u IOB. Snacktime. #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

A small handful of raisins and I’m on my merry way.  No worries!

But then 2.30 am hit and I was in the trenches again.  Dexcom alarms were blaring, texts from my Share friends were pinging, and the sweat was beaded up on my brow.

At least my phone is fully charged this time? #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

But no worries!  All night long lows?  I’ve got this.  Juice box plus temporary basal rate should bring me up juuuuuust fine.

Then Dexcom alarms went off again at 4 am (this time, I was a little high from over-treating the low). Corrected that shit.  No worries.  (Kind of worried.  I am tired.  When do I sleep?  Maybe tonight.  Aw fuck it – let’s dance.)

Diabetes is all night long.

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