In my almost eight years of pumping insulin, my beloved pumps have died twice.  The first time was the night my diabetes turned 21 years old (clearly, it was out on a bender) and the second time was last weekend.  On a Saturday afternoon.  On Fourth of July weekend.

You know, when EVERYTHING is closed? 

What happened is this:  I was getting dressed in the bathroom and was tucking the pump into the front of my bra for a little disco boobs action.  Only my hands went all fumbles on me, and the pump leapt out of my hand like the escargot Julia Roberts attempts to wrangle in Pretty Woman.  Little Ping hit the floor with a perfect BANG after the five foot, four inch fall, and the pump started to spazz.

“BEEEEEEEEP!!!”  Vibrating madly.  “BEEEEEEEEEEEP!”

I’ve dropped pumps in the past – plenty of times – but somehow, this fall was precise in its destructive powers.  I disconnected the infusion set in a hurry, not sure if a spazzy pump would try and empty out its reservoir.  The pump was beeping, and an error message was lit up on the screen.  I didn’t see it for more than a few seconds, but it was something close to:

“Your pump is having a major malfunction.  Error number OU812.  Call Animas Customer Service immediately.  Even though it’s a Sunday.  Srsly.” 

It’s Sunday.  On a Monday-holiday weekend.  Chris and BSparl and I are about to head out to a Fourth of July picnic with family and friends.  We’re literally like 20 minutes away from walking out of the house, and this is when my pump opts out? (Read:  Or when I throw it against the bathroom floor in just the right way so that it dies instantly?)

I popped a new battery into the pump, but the screen didn’t light back up.  With the battery in, the pump just made sad little beeping noises, similar to the ones Siah makes when I accidentally shut her in the walk-in closet.  (“Mew!”)  I knew my precious pump was reduced to froast. So I rang up the Animas customer service line.

Nothing annoys me more than having to “press one if you’re having a technical problem … press two if you are having a bad day … press three if you’d like to remain on hold for 23 minutes to speak with a representative.”  If I’m dealing with a broken medical device, I’d rather speak with someONE when I dial in to customer service, not someTHING. 

Thankfully, with both Minimed and Animas, I’ve never had trouble with customer service.  I know people have different experiences left and right, but with both companies, I’ve had my problems resolved fast.  (And I appreciate that.)  However, this was my first time needing an Animas replacement (since switching to the Ping back in January 2010), so I didn’t know what to expect.

Within 20 minutes of me sending my pump to its death, I was on the phone with the Animas “emergency service holiday weekend rep” (my term, not their official one), discussing where the replacement pump needed to be mailed. Actually, I left a message for her with the holiday answering service, and she called me back while I was on the phone with a friend who works for Animas (we were trying to figure out how to get a local rep to score me a rogue pump for the weekend).  

“Ooh, that’s the customer service line!  Hang on; can you hang on just like a sec?”  I said into my house phone, reaching for my ringing cell phone.  It was like diabetes overload, as I foraged through the fridge for my emergency bottle of Levemir while on two different phones with two different Animas people, and a dead pump corpsing up on the kitchen counter.

“I’m leaving for a conference in Orlando on Tuesday morning, so would it be possible for the pump to be shipped to my hotel?”  It was Sunday.  I was leaving for Friends for Life on Tuesday morning, the pump was due to arrive on Wednesday, and I refused to go a week on MDI to reconnect upon my return to Rhode Island. 

“Not a problem.  It will arrive there, before 10 am, on Wednesday morning,” said my Animas customer service weekend angel o’ happies. 

“Great, thank you so much!!  I really appreciate all of your help.”

“No problem.  If you need anything else, call me.  And enjoy your weekend!”

After unearthing my stash of syringes (kept in a shoebox downstairs in the basement, which meant I had to brave some potentially massive and murderous spiders in efforts to shoot up) and uncapping the back-up bottle of Levemir I had picked up from the pharmacy THAT DAY (talk about ironic timing … more on that and the impromptu return to MDI later), I was ready for a few days of injections while I waited for my pump.

“Are you sure you’re okay to go the party?”  Chris asked.

“Yeah.  Oh wait, hang on a second.”  I ran upstairs and changed from my skirt and top to a light, pretty summer dress. 

“You changed your clothes?”

“Dude, I’m not going to waste this pump vacation.  All sun dresses, all the time.”