My pump break

Just about a year ago, the four year warranty on my insulin pump ran out. I wasn’t too worried because the version of the pump that I was wearing had only been FDA approved about two years before, so the pump that I owned could only be that old.

One of the best times to wear a waterproof pump with CGM integration is obviously at a water park. The advantage is not missing any basal insulin and having idea of my blood sugar without having to carry extra devices.

One of the worst times to wear a waterproof pump to a water park is when the pump is out of warranty. I almost made it through the entire day before the first hint of trouble.

Mostly unrelated picture of the loaner pump

Just before the end of the day, I hit the shortcut button on the side of my pump to check the CGM and instead I got a warning that the pump wasn’t primed. I confirmed the error, which should have taken me to the home screen. Instead, it took me to a blank screen. When I hit the button again, the same error popped up. I could not get out of the error loop. Taking the battery out just put me into a new error loop trying to enter the date.

After a quick dose with a vial and syringe to accompany the ice cream as we were leaving the water park, and due to some great friends and diabetes connections, I was able to use a series of replacements pumps to not miss more than an hour of basal insulin. The next step should have been to start the process to have my insurance pay for a new insulin pump. I hesitated. Even though my insurance is very good for diabetes coverages, it is still a big purchase. It is especially a big purchase when nothing on the market right now is exactly new or groundbreaking.

I headed to my endocrinology appointment last October with those thoughts about the current state of technology in mind. My doctor and I talked about the new long acting basal insulin called Tresiba, and he had heard good reports from his other patients who had started using it. Quicker than I expected, I had a sample of Tresiba pens in my hand, and the rest of the prescriptions and supplies necessary to switch from my insulin pump to multiple daily injections (MDI).

I originally started pumping in January 2004, eleven months after I was first diagnosed with diabetes. Prior to that point I had only used NPH and a fast acting insulin with a vial and syringes. I was embarrassed to have to ask the staff at the doctor’s office about how to use an insulin pen. In over thirteen years, I had never injected insulin with a pen before.

With my limited experience with basal insulin and over a decade of successful pumping, I was always confused when people CHOSE to go on “pump breaks.” I could not understand why they would want to give up what I considered the best treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Now MY “pump break” has been over three months and don’t anticipate it ending anytime soon. It really occurs to me at the strangest times how much I appreciate not wearing an insulin pump. When I get off the couch and don’t have to retrieve my pump from between the cushions. When I use the restroom and don’t have to catch my pump before it hits the floor or someplace worse. When I bolus in the car and don’t end up twisted in the seatbelt. When nothing is poking at my waistband when I turn in my office chair to answer the phone. When I can pass a doorknob or handle and not worry that my pump tubing is going to get stuck. When I can pick out outfits with no concern over where I am going to clip my pump.

I’ve successfully completed two of the most challenging and stressful days of my year using Tresiba and MDI.

The first event was our local fundraising walk, which is my primary responsibility at work. It actually took place about two weeks after the MDI switch. Without even walking the official walk route, I managed to log a half marathon between the set up of the event and the day of the event. Without much time for sitting or eating, the graph on my CGM managed to hold steady.

The second big challenge of my MDI routine was my JDRF ride in Tucson. I took my regular dose of basal insulin in the early hours before the ride started and carried my Apidra pen in my ride jersey. 76.6 miles later, my BG graph was flatter than the elevation map of the ride.

I never thought I’d give up my pump as the best treatment for my diabetes, but it turns out that right now it isn’t the best treatment for me.

4 Comments

  • I ordered my new pump today largely because since having one I have never been out of warranty. Mine went out about two weeks ago. After 28 years without a pump, I am happy to keep going. I did look at Tresiba as an alternative.but not seriously. For me it is all about the pump, I think it may have been all those years without. Pumps have been life changing for me and tossing in the towel even for a few days is so difficult.

  • So, Sara, what CGM are you using? The Dexcom? Did you never use the vibe? I’m really missing having a CGM even though I do like my new Roche Accu-Check Combo pump that I finally got down here in Brasil after a 2-year process. The judge wouldn’t approve the Medtronic pump with the sensor which my doctor recommended–they said I didn’t need a sensor even though I’ve been having a lot of lows. We are now in the process of fine-tuning my basal rates so I don’t have morning lows. What kind of investment did you have to make with this new system?


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