Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Pumping Insulin’ Category

Beach-Borg.

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to the beach (with my mom and my aunts and half of the state of Rhode Island) and I wore a bathing suit.  I also wore a CGM sensor on my thigh and an insulin pump infusion set on my arm, connecting to the insulin pump clipped to my bathing suit.

There were a few glances, but nothing too awkward.  (Except the older kid who was sitting on the steps heading up to the bathrooms who, after staring at my diabetes cyborg stuff, nudged his sister in the shoulder and said, “What’s wrong with her?”  To which I replied, “Plenty,” and kept walking because honestly, I had to pee.)  It always surprises me, though, that I’ve never seen another pump or sensor on the beach.  All these people who are supposedly living with type 1 diabetes – where the hell are they?

It reminded me of the lady who was so concerned about the cell phone she thought I was about to ruin at the beach … hey, there happens to be a video discussing that very topic right here!

I’m rarely self-conscious about diabetes, and thankfully I have a small child who doesn’t leave much room or time for me to be stressed out about beach-borging.  But I am reminded regularly throughout the summer that my tan lines are a little different from that of my insulin-producing counterparts.

(Yes, I’m ready for Friends for Life, where borgs are the norm.)

 

Device Frustration.

Am I a crumb because I want to rip my devices off sometimes and throw them into a great, blue hole?  Like this one?  My skin is so irritated by the adhesives and intrusions of my insulin pump and my CGM that the desire to heave them into this abyss is intense.

the Great Blue Hole – I look at pictures of this thing all the time

I hate the bulk of them.  The amount of room that my devices take up on my body and the trauma they have a tendency to leave on my skin.  I simultaneously absolutely love the convenience of them.  The fact that I can take teeny, precise doses of insulin without using a magnifying glass on a syringe or when the alarm goes off in the middle of the night, alerting me to a 70 mg/dL that was sliding towards LOW … this is the stuff that makes wearing diabetes devices worth it for me.

The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot, but the cons are a thorn in my side these days.  Or, more accurately, a wicked itch on my skin.

I took my insulin pump off one morning because the site was so sore, and so red, and the mark it left on my body was like a little diabetes bullet wound.  I have a high threshold for irritation and itch, but this site was terrible and after pulling it out, I didn’t have anything even close to resembling the desire to put a new one back in.  I went on injections for 12 hours before realizing that being on the road wasn’t doing my blood sugars any favors (I was having trouble bringing myself back under 200 mg/dL – rage bolus, anyone?), so once my Levemir injection timed out, I reluctantly put a new pump site in.  Admittedly, blood sugar control for me these days is better on the pump.

It’s not just my pump sites that are irritating these days.  This morning, I noticed that my CGM site had become red, itchy, and irritated OUTSIDE OF THE TAPE.  What the actual fuck?  Usually, I have a skin response underneath where the sensor actually is, or where any of the tapes connect.  But this round, I have a proximity rash thanks probably to continuously compromised skin (linking to it here because it’s too gross to put on the blog).  So now I’m getting a frigging rash in the places where the sensor isn’t even touching?!  I’m in a hard place of feeling safer with access to CGM data but access to CGM data produces a fierce itch.

I need a breather.  But taking one leaves me exposed.  HEAVE this shit into the great blue hole!  That’s what I’m doing mentally, chucking all these things that make my skin hurt and itch into the watery hole and watching them sink to the bottom.

… but then diving in to rescue them.  Because I hate injections and I hate going to bed without seeing my CGM trend arrow.

An Animas Assist for Snap Users.

All disclosures out of the way first:  You guys know I have a professional relationship with Animas, as they have been a partner of mine since 2010, details outlined here.  Bias lens firmly in place?  Continue on.

Today I have a Q&A with John Wilson, the new VP of Insulin Delivery at Johnson & Johnson about Asante closing, the Animas connection, and an option for patients who have been left a little in the lurch.  

*   *   *

Kerri:  John, thanks for talking with me today.  Could you give a little background on who you are and what’s your diabetes connection?

John Wilson:  I’ve been in the healthcare industry my entire professional life, most recently working in oncology pharmaceuticals. In order to be successful, I need to have passion for what I do, and the diabetes space is easy for me to get my emotional arms around because I have a family connection.  Let’s face it, we all know people living with diabetes, and it’s very clearly an area of high unmet need.  I’m now leading the insulin delivery platform, focusing on Animas and Calibra products.  I work alongside my partners in the blood glucose monitoring platform – also known as Lifescan – and collectively, we are Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions Companies.

Kerri:  Asante Snap users were thrown for a loop last week when the company announced it was closing its doors.  How is Animas planning to help take care of those customers who were left high and dry?

John Wilson:  This announcement caught everyone off guard, and I have empathy for both sides of it.  I know some of the people at Asante and that they care about the individuals in this community and are dedicated to this space, and I know pump users had to react suddenly to this news.  I was grateful that they [Asante] reached out to us to see if we could help.

Kerri:  So how is Animas helping these folks?

John Wilson:  First, we assembled a call-in line for Asante patients with specially trained Animas folks to triage their calls.  That number is 1-877-937-7867 X1562.  From a HIPPA compliance perspective, we couldn’t reach out to Asante users, so we had to wait for them to reach out to us, and we wanted to be ready to help.

The offer is pretty simple:  We are offering the choice of two pumps – the Animas Vibe with the integrated Dexcom G4 technology and the Animas One Touch Ping, and for patients under 18 we are offering the One Touch Ping.  It’s a net cost of $99 for the patient, with an upfront of $799 which, upon receipt of the Asante pump, we will credit back $700.  The Animas pumps are brand new [not refurbished] and we will honor balance of the warranty of their Asante pump.  This offer is available until July 17th.

Kerri:  How will Animas handle things like insurance for people who are transitioning?

John Wilson:  We know this need is immediate, and given the number of insurers, in order to determine whether or not they would cover it, it would take too long for the patient to be back up and running.  This is why we decided to address the immediate need with the $99 cost to the patient.

Kerri:  Customer service means so much to people who are living with diabetes, as our lives depend on receiving our supplies and medications in a timely manner.  This is big deal.  How does Animas plan to handle their existing customer base while helping the incoming PWD?

John Wilson: My team is focused on streamlining processes and improving the customer experience, and we have invested in this area.  It’s critical that we get this right.  We want to reduce the amount of time that people remain on hold, we want to call people right back and make the process as seamless as possible.  I recognize we have had misses in the past, but I’m committed to removing obstacles in order to make this process better.

I think it’s always best to operate transparently.  If I fall short of your expectations, I should acknowledge that.   My hope is that we can ultimately exceed everyone’s expectations.

*   *   *

So here’s the fine print:  There aren’t any returns, exchanges, or upgrades in this offer.  To start the process of receiving a replacement Animas Insulin Pump, they are asking that any Asante Snap pump patients to call toll free 1-877-937-7867 X1562.  Their Customer Care Representatives are available to help people out Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM EST.  Here’s a link to all the stuff.

It’s also important – and exciting! – to note that the Asante technology is not lost and gone forever.  Last week, Bigfoot Biomedical purchased all of Asante’s pump resources, with plans to pair the pump with Bigfoot Biomedical’s artificial pancreas components.  Way more details are in the diaTribe article, if you’d like to read up.  Also, Animas is just one of the pump companies who are stepping up to meet the needs of the Asante users.  Tandem has their offer outlined here and Medtronic details are here.

Updated:  Diabetes Mine has a great interview with Bigfoot Biomedical’s Jeffrey Brewer up today!

Man, this post keeps going.  I’m going to stop it now, but not without adding this awesome .gif (courtesy of The Space Cupcake):

No Disassemble.

I need to exorcise the technology demons in my house.  Because everything is breaking.

It started several months ago, the issue with my laptop, but in the last two weeks, my computer has gone entirely bananas.  I have a Macbook Air as my primary office computer and the bulk of my work is on that machine.  And it worked fine for several years, until the trackpad on the computer started to over-react to everything.  I’d tap my finger on the trackpad and every email in my inbox would open, files would delete themselves, and browser windows threw themselves against the side of the glass.  Crazy shit.

“Why are you so sensitive?!” I yelled at the computer.

“I don’t knooooooooooooow!!” It sobbed in return.

I did a lot of Google searches, and my computer wasn’t the only one feeling super fragile and sensitive.  It was not alone.  (And if your computer is going berserk, you are not alone.)  But last week, while traveling, the computer refused to click on any damn thing while simultaneously clicking on every damn thing, it wouldn’t connect to wifi, and it bit me when I opened it.  (Sharp teeth on that little sucker.)  Because I do not work in a formal office but instead house my business entirely in a computer, I had to make the rotten decision to replace my computer.

Fine.  That problem is solved, albeit in the most expensive and irritating way possible.  Then last night my FitBit decided to go rogue on me, in the middle of an intensely competitive FitBit challenge (cough – @miller7 – cough), rendering it useless.  This morning, my Dexcom receiver did that weird “BEEEEEEEEEP!” thing where static electricity or something courses through it and it restarts on its own.  En route to a doctor’s appointment at the crack of dawn this morning, the GPS in my car took me to somewhere that was not the doctor’s office but instead a supermarket (so I bought apples).

Everything with a battery or a digital footprint is breaking.  I’m afraid.  And then I realized that the way I receive my insulin is via an insulin pump, powered by a battery, chock full o’ breakable technology.  A cold panic washed over me as I worried the tech demons were contagious.

“Shhhhhhh … you’re okay.  You’re my friend,” I said to my insulin pump, as I held it in the palm of my hand like a fuzzy hamster.  “Be good.  No disassemble.  Keep working,” I murmured to it, stroking it gently with one fingertip.

Here’s hoping.

Boop Beep Boop.

“Boop beep boop!”

The sound is unmistakable, as it used to ring out from my hip for so many years.  That noise, the sound of a Medtronic insulin pump alerting for whatever reason, used to be my soundtrack before Fur Elise and the “boop boop boop!” of the Animas pump replaced it.

Boop beep boop!”

I was sitting outside of the classroom where my daughter was meeting with the school administrators for her pre-kindergarten screening tests when I heard that familiar noise.  (The tests upon which I will not comment because this whole process is so strange and so involved – whatever happened to reading books and milk cartons and coloring?  In related news, I’ve become an old bird.)

Looking up, I saw a teacher walking down the hallway, casually talking to her colleague with their lunch bags in hand, her fingertips deftly and instinctively pressing the buttons on her insulin pump, administering what I assumed was a lunch bolus.

“Boop beep boop!”

Even though I’ve found so much comfort in the diabetes community and have made lifelong friends who are funny, kind, and also happen to not make their own insulin, I wanted to leap up and say hi to the woman in the elementary school who also wore an insulin pump.  She was here!  In my town!  Randomly!  A PWD (person with diabetes) spotting in-the-wild is always exciting.  Kind of like finding Bigfoot, only with fewer over-the-shoulder glances and more “see a birthday cake!” faces.

But instead, I sat in the folding chair and minded my own business, secretly thrilled once again by the knowledge that it only takes a quiet series of beeps and boops to remind me that I am not alone.

 

Plug It In.

I’m not a good traveler, but I am a good packer. Part of my preparation ritual is to make sure I only bring what I need and that outfits are tried on and coordinated before I go. (Because there was that one time I brought a shirt and forgot pants and that made for a different sort of panic before a presentation.)

Thinking ahead helps me prevent over-packing. (I have made a rule about not checking baggage, ever, if I can help it.) So before I left for a business trip on Thursday afternoon, my house was a brief flurry of coat hangers, dresses, and shoes. I tried on four or five different things before chucking them into my suitcase (who am I kidding – I military roll everything so it fits) and then it was time to get ready to leave the house.

It took me almost an hour to realize that, in my frenetic fashion show, I had my pump clipped to my hip but not connected to my infusion set. It wasn’t until I heard the Dexcom alarm let loose with the HIGH ALARM! that I realized my tubing was wagging like a tail. Disconnected from my body. Leaving me on an unintentional insulin hiatus.

So many variables influence my blood sugars – exercise! Insulin levels! Food! Stress! Exclamation points!

But sometimes it’s as simple as remembering to plug shit in.

Sharps, or “Shaaaahps,” Containers.

In the last few weeks, I’ve taken some device breaks and reverted back to some of my multiple injection (MDI) ways (until skin rashes healed up, bruises started dotting up my skin landscape, and frustration with trying to draw up 1/4 of a unit of Humalog using a syringe tossed me back into DeviceLand).  It was a good break and one I needed, but I was reminded of how many sharps I can accumulate during the course of a week on MDI.

Back when I lived at home with my parents, my mom used an empty detergent bottle to throw my sharps into.  When it was full, she taped it up with duct tape and my dad disposed of it somewhere “official.” (But to be honest, I have no idea where he brought it.  The shed at my childhood home could be filled with used insulin syringes shoved into fleets of Tide bottles, for all I know.)  When I moved out and went to college, I continued the same system only I brought my full sharps containers to our local pharmacy.

These days, I don’t generate a lot of sharps and currently have a few containers that need to be disposed of (tips from Joslin on sharps disposal here), but that’s largely in part due to the fact that I rarely use syringes these days.  Even when I’m on pump vacations, I tend to use insulin pens over orange-capped syringes.  (Did anyone use one of these back in the day?  I loved this thing.  It was like a fingernail clipper for my drug paraphernalia.)  I busted out a “formal” sharps container that I had in storage for the last few years and have been using it for pen needle tips, lancets, etc.

Sharps. Or, if you're from New England: "shaaaaahps."

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

It feels strange and foreign to not be shoving my sharps into a discarded laundry detergent bottle.  I feel like my sharps went all professional.  Like they wear tie clips and have board room lunches. But, at the very least, they are properly contained and will be properly disposed of and that makes me feel like I’m properly PWD’ing.
 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers