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Posts tagged ‘Animas’

The One About Animas.

[I have a disclosure about Tandem.  I had a previous disclosure about Animas.  Please read my disclosure page so you are aware of my bias.]

Yeah.  I know the news cycle is 15 seconds long now and many people have already moved past the fact that Animas is closing shop, but I heard about it while I was on vacation and haven’t had a chance to really process the news until recently.

Two years ago, there were six pumps to choose from:  Tandem, Animas, Medtronic, Insulet, Roche, and Asante.  Three of them are now gone.  (Also, rest in peace, Cozmo.)  With Animas exiting, Tandem, Insulet, and Medtronic are what remain in the US market.

This sucks for several reasons, but the main one for me is that diabetes is not a choice I made.  I am not a big fan of this disease, and taking insulin isn’t something I love doing.  However, I need insulin to survive, and pumping insulin results in better diabetes control for me.

When I was diagnosed, pumping wasn’t being pushed by my endo, as it was fairly new.  I went on my first insulin pump back in 2004 and it was a Medtronic 512 (smoke gray and reasonably badass for its time).  I used that for a few years, then switched to a silver Animas Ping and spent several years on their pump, then popped over to Tandem and have been t:slimming since.  All of these pumps made taking insulin easier, for me.  And each one of these pumps, I chose.

An insulin pump is an intimate device for people with diabetes.  It goes to school with them.  Goes to work.  Goes to bed.  This thing is literally by our side 24/7, so it needs to fit into our lives.  I remember choosing my first insulin pump and pouring through the brochures excitedly, as if I were picking out my first car.  Yay, the colors!  Yay, the tubing options!  Yay, the infusion sets!  Weird things to say Yay! about, but it was kind of nice to do some choosing when it came to diabetes.  Having a choice made me feel like I had a bit more control over this disease.  Can’t unchoose diabetes, but can choose the devices I use.  I appreciate that.

This whole Animas closing thing is rotten because people chose that pump.  That’s the pump they wanted to bring all over the place, the one they decided would fit into their life.  Having yet another choice removed/forced sucks, and I’m not sure what can be done to preserve the few choices we have left.

If you’re using Animas currently, you can switch to Medtronic but you shouldn’t feel forced into using Medtronic. Tandem and Insulet are options, even under UHC (although if you have UHC, it may require some paperwork/PITA hassle/moments when wine is necessary). Medtronic makes a product worth using, but it’s not the ONLY product worth using, and patient choice MATTERS.  Take some time to look at the remaining choices and make a decision that works well for you.

clicking the logo will take you to their Animas switch information

clicking the logo will take you to their Animas switch information

RIP, Animas.  Your pump saw me through my pregnancy with my daughter, and also through a handful of swim up bars – both scenarios are real life.  Thanks for making those life moments easier.

What Does the DOC Mean to You?

This video is one of the last ones I did for Animas, but it’s one of my favorites because it features some of the friendliest faces in the Diabetes Online Community.

Much love to the folks who offered to share their perspectives on the diabetes community, and thanks for being part of the family.

If you are up for chiming in: What does the DOC mean to you?

Back to School.

How is “going back to school” like “going to the endo?”  I’m learning more about life’s parallels every day.  New column up over at Animas:

It reminded me of going to the pediatric endocrinologist’s office when I was a little kid, sitting in the waiting room with my mother.  After checking in with the receptionist, my mom and I would sit in the waiting room.  I’d read my book or play with the toys that were scattered around the room while my mother reached into her canvas work bag and pulled out my blood sugar logs and her list of questions for the endo.  Her brow would instantly furrow.  She, like pretty much every other parent in that waiting room, looked overwhelmed and a little unsure about what might happen next.

Over time, preparing for the endocrinologist visits became a little like preparing for going back to school.  There was a list of things I was supposed to take care of between visits (blood sugar checks are equivalent to summer reading lists in this comparison) and documents I needed to prepare for discussion.  There are (blood) tests to take and teachers who I learned from.  A1Cs felt (still feel?) like report cards.  And sometimes my endo straight schools me on diabetes, tweaking my doses and opening my mind to alternative solutions.  As much as I’ve learned, there’s still more to learn.

[Animas disclosures here]

Care What the Community Thinks, Not What the Community Buys.

[I have a working relationship with Animas. My disclosures are here; please read them.]

During the middle of one of our discussion sessions, Daniela D’Onofrio let fly a statement that defined the whole blogger summit for me:

“Care what the community thinks, not what the community buys.”

Last week, the European Animas team brought a group of diabetes advocates together for a face-to-face discussion. This meeting is very special to me because it serves as a portal into the global diabetes online community, bringing advocates from different countries, speaking different languages, together at the same actual table.

And at that same table is the company responsible for believing in our voices: Animas. Several years ago, there was an air of awkwardness when it came to plunking different diabetes demographics into the room – did you really want to talk about the company RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE COMPANY? It felt weird. Strange, kind of like when someone asks if they have something in their teeth and you know you owe it to them to fess up about the giant chunk of broccoli sitting between their two front fangs but instead you say, “Nah! You’re fine,” and then nothing changes.

This was a meeting that included talking about that broccoli. We weren’t in an ivory tower talking about ivory tower-type things. We hit upon topics that felt uncomfortable at times, including the absence of type 2 voices at the table, and the perception of our meeting from the outside. It got sticky, the discussions, because we didn’t dance around any awkwardness. Instead, we tried to embrace it to move forward. When respect is coupled with honesty, more good comes of it. Now, years after those first meetings between the diabetes community and diabetes companies, people are being straight up about their needs and wants. There’s a power to that.

And, as a group, we recognized our privilege. We knew we were flipping lucky to be in that room, many with the support of Animas, and that the meeting is not a yearly guarantee. So we took advantage of our time together. We were honest, regardless of who was listening or taking notes. Our agenda included topics around incorporating and encouraging type 2 diabetes voices, diabetes and well-being, working through advocacy burnout, and building trust between diabetes companies and diabetes communities.

Annie has written about her experiences at the summit here, with some detail from her perspective on the sessions. More posts from other attendees are in the works, and the event was sort of documented on Twitter using the #IntlDOCExchange15 hashtag.

For me, the discussion about type 2 voices was the most eye-opening. It was understood that we were there with the Animas team, so therefore the folks in attendance were either Animas users or caregivers to Animas users. With insulin pumps not indicated for use by people with type 2 across the board, it made sense that the attendees were people touched by type 1 diabetes. Made sense, but still seemed wrong. We talked for a long time about how uncomfortable it can be, at times, to bring different groups together at times, but how necessary it is on the whole. I’ve been a longtime proponent of bridging the gaps between types (ashamed to admit my own preconceived notions in the past) and it felt good to see the people in our sessions talking openly about the common ground between the diabetes types, even if not everyone saw that common ground at first glance. People are people, regardless of their diabetes “type,” and to pretend we don’t have common ground is truly unreasonable.

Together, we’re stronger; no caveat added.

It was in that last session that Daniela summed up every company interaction (or simply every interaction, ever) that’s been productive, at least for me. Understanding and caring about the needs of the people touched by diabetes is what really matters; community and business objectives alike benefit from that level of interaction and involvement. This applies to people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, type whatever diabetes.

So how can diabetes companies best serve the overall community? By caring more about what people think than what they buy. (Or, in terms that are more my speed: Give a shit about PEOPLE, not purchases.)

And I think that’s happening. Less slowly than before, and certainly surely, patient advocates across the health condition spectrum are raising their voices and being HEARD.

EU Blogger Summit

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Our group’s viewpoints were not representative of the entire diabetes community (just as my post here is not representative of the entire summit), or even of our respective regions, but it was powerful to have different individual opinions shared comfortably and openly. Many people in the group were returning to the meeting for the third or fourth time, but there were a few new faces, and it was encouraging (inspiring, even) to see those new voices welcomed into the fold.

I’m very appreciative that Animas trusted me to facilitate these discussions, and allowed me the opportunity to meet with my global DOC partners to move the mission forward. Especially when they, as a company, are not dictating the mission, but are instead along for the ride with our community as a partner. Props, and thanks, for that, and for pointing out the broccoli while simultaneously picking it out of their own teeth.

(And with that, I’ll end that particular gross and specific metaphor.)

Running the Gamut of Emotions.

In my diabetes life, emotions are right up there with insulin and food as influencers of blood sugar management.  And I wish it wasn’t so, because stress and excitement are hard to “plan.”  (Replace those actual quotation marks with finger quotes, because they fit the bill a bit better.)  And the emotions that come up as a result of diabetes crap?  Holy shit, they are a circus all their own.

The emotions of diabetes are a thing for me, and one that I need to work to manage as fastidiously as I work on my numbers.  Which is why my Animas column this month is about that exact thing:

“Diabetes is more than the lab work results and pricking fingers, taking insulin, counting carbs.  That’s the to-do list we have to check every day, but it doesn’t even begin to touch the other side of life with a chronic illness, and that’s the headspace part.  Some of my academic friends call it the psychosocial part; I think of it as the emotional portion of managing my diabetes, and in my life, managing my headspace is as important as managing my blood sugars.

There’s a whole range of emotions connected to diabetes that I run though on any given day.”

For the full article, click over to my columns at Animas.  And for more on emotions and diabetes, you can basically read anything I’ve ever written here on SUM.  🙂

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