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Thursday
Jul242014

The Medtronic 530G Trial - Part 2

Let’s get this out of the way.

Medtronic has let me use one of their new insulin pumps (530G with Enlite), a CGM transmitter, and a Bayer glucometer as a trial. When it’s over I will let them know how I feel, fill out a survey, and be on my merry way. No payment is received (I guess you could count the supplies for said equipment as payment since I didn’t have to buy anything) and every opinion is my own. I am a pretty honest ninja but also not a complete jerk so I will let them know what I think without being too harsh.

As much as I would love to drag this out into a week-long batch of posts I am going to cut to the chase.

So first let me tell you about the pump.

It’s fine. Just fine. Is that good or bad? I dunno. It works. It does its thing. On its own it is pretty much the same pump as my Revel so yeah, it’s fine.

Of course I would love a serious make-over almost more than an upgrade. Software is just not pretty enough for me to get excited about. I wish it looked sleeker or stylishier (made up word alert). And the body of this pump is pretty much the same as the other two pumps I have had so I would say, the pump is fine and that is good!

Now let’s talk about this CGM. I have tried the sensors with my Revel and I did not like them so much. This new sensor is smaller, easier to insert, more accurate, and can stop delivery of insulin if it senses you are low and do not clear an alarm.

Let’s break down those features shall we?

That last sensor hurt every time I inserted it. The gauge of the needle was thick. I would describe it as an upholstery needle to people which was probably a bit of an exaggeration but it didn’t feel like it. Ouch it hurt! It hurts just thinking about it! This sensor has never hurt. Ever. Every insertion for me never hurt. Each time I waited for the pain and I never felt it. Crazy right? So that is a point for the CGM!

The other thing about that metal straw of a needle from before what how difficult the inserter was to use. Really the best way to describe it is “how easy it was to insert anywhere into anything!” It always looked like it was missing a cover or a safety shield or something. The needle was exposed and the feet that rested against your skin were at a 45° angle but it was easy to mess that angle up since the feet were small and I never had a protractor handy to help.

This new sensor was simple to insert after you figured it out. Like multiplying by 11’s. At first it looks scary but once I figured it out it was easy as pie! I really like the inserter after I figured out that the needle goes in when you let go, not when you push the button! So tricky! And if that is some weird magic that keeps it from hurting then so be it! Mark another point for the sensor! Woohoo!

Accuracy for me using the old sensor was nonexistent. My numbers were all over the place. So bad I wondered sometimes if I actually switched pumps with someone or something. Annoying!

The new sensor seemed to be just as accurate as my Dexcom. Now I know this may not be the same for everyone but for me I see about the same swing in numbers. The accuracy is much better from my experience. Could it be better? Of course but this is a huge improvement and as you probably figured out, another point for the CGM!

And now the biggie, the ability for the sensor to tell your pump to stop insulin delivery. This is something I feel really takes this pump to the next level. That first step towards an artificial pancreas! But will it work? Can I trust it? Will it make my wife not as nervous when I am out of town and have an overnight low that she is not around to help me with?

I am here to tell you that it does work, or at least did for me. I had a few really low lows and the pump shut off. Once I slept right through the alarm and woke up to an alarm that had been going off for a while. My pump screen said, “LOW SUSPEND.” I wasn’t shaking and I wasn’t covered in sweat. I felt a little funky but not a terrible low. It worked like it was supposed to!

That first time I woke up seeing those words on my pump screen I thought about all of the people who have been lost to an overnight low. I felt awful for those left with that loss but also felt so thankful that this technology is finally available to us. This is clearly another point once again for the CGM.

That is a lot of positives about the CGM and Pump right? I really am impressed and would suggest people consider it when choosing a pump, that is for sure.

But I have one major frustration and annoyance that I cannot get past.

In all the upgrades and changes to improve the sensor it doesn’t seem anything was changed in the transmitter. Why should that be a big deal? Well, I really had problem with the old system losing signal and because of that transmission hiccup, the sensor would not log anything until you “reconnected” the sensor to the receiver. This happens almost every night. I should say most nights. There was probably 2 nights it didn’t happen.

I am not one who tosses and turns in bed but I do sleep on my side so if the pump falls behind me it will lose signal. I have gone so far as to sleep with the pump in my hands and of course I will let go of it, turn over, and bam it’s disconnected.

My Dexcom can sit on my nightstand next to my head and never lose signal. And when it alarms I hear it well.

The alarm for a lost signal is becoming so annoying I am not even paying attention to any alarms at night. LIKE THE LOW GLUCOSE ONE!! I can clear them in my sleep because I have to clear the signal one so much. It’s like a car alarm that no one reacts to anymore because they hear it often. Not good.

So my big giant problem with this system is the transmitter which is ultimately the CGM, which is what makes this pump stand out, which means once again it is not for me.

Prior to this trial I really hated the sensor. That is not the case. I LOVE the sensor, I like the pump, I hate the transmitter.

It drives me nuts because I see how awesome this system is and how important it is in the advancement of pumping technology. So many people I know love this thing and I want to love it too. I really truly want to but I can’t. It just doesn’t work for me.

So there it is.

If you have had a good experience with the transmitter or have NOT had the issue with it losing signal please let me know. I don’t want people to assume it will be the same for them as it was for me.

Friday
Jun062014

The Medtronic 530G Trial - Part 1

Back in January I attended the Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Summit here in Southern California. It was a great time and very informative.

One thing that we learned a lot about was the new pump, the 530G with Enlite. This pump is the first step in an artificial pancreas system because their CGM talks to the pump and will suspend delivery of insulin if your bg drops below a certain number. Cool huh?

I was able to get my little ninja paws on one to check out for a while and I want to tell you all about it. Probably in a few installments.

First I should say that I have been using a Medtronic insulin pump for my entire pumping life. I started with the 722 and then upgraded to the 723 a few years ago. I love my pump. It changed my life for the better and I really love Medtronic and how helpful they have always been.

The 723, better known as the Revel, was super ultra cool because it worked with their CGM. So if you use the Revel pump and the Medtronic CGM the one device would run both things. So you could see your CGM graph on your pump! Now as cool as this was it did not have any sort of control over your pump like the low glucose suspend on the new 530G but it was the first step towards the artificial pancreas.

So I went for it! I got the pump, I got the sensors, I got the training, and I hated it. The pump will still just as great as the 722 was but the CGM was not working for me. And there were three big things that ultimately made me stop using the CGM.

  1. Insertion hurt. Like heck it hurt and heck hurts a heck of a lot let me tell you.
  2. Poor Accuracy. For some reason my CGM numbers would be way WAY off. So much so that I wondered if I didn’t put the sensor in correctly. Until I noticed that all of them seemed to be off no matter what I tried.
  3. Loss of Signal. This was by far the most annoying thing of all. I know I am a big guy. But I am not a planet. If I have the pump in my right pocket and the sensor is on my left side it would lose signal. I don’t wear iron body suits or anything so it makes no sense to me. I made a joke that there needs to be a Medtronic personal satellite orbiting around my fat ass so maybe the signal would get to the pump. Sorry for being so sarcastic but getting a “lost signal” alarm every night is pretty annoying.

So I used Dexcom. And it was great. And it is great. I love it actually. All three of those issues I had with Medtronic were non issues with Dexcom. I know it is another device in my pocket but I figured it was like the reason I buy shampoo AND conditioner. Maybe an “all in one” is not for me right now. No biggie.

There I was pumping away and CGMing with my Medtronic Pump and Dexcom CGM. All was going fine and now this new pump with a new sensor and the low glucose suspend. Would this be a better pump? Would the CGM be less painful, more accurate, and not lose signal? Could this step closer to the artificial pancreas benefit little ole me?

I had to know so I sent in my info to get started on a trial. 

to be continued...

Friday
May162014

Diabetes Life Hacks - DBlogWeek Day 5

Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.  Tell us everything from clothing modifications, serving size/carb counting tricks to the tried and true Dexcom-in-a-glass trick or the “secret” to turning on a Medtronic pump’s backlight when not on the home-screen (scroll to the bottom of this post). Please remember to give non-medical advice only! (Thank you Rachel of Probably Rachel and Kelley of Below Seven for this topic suggestion.)

This prompt seemed like it would be easy for me to write about but so far this has been the toughest to write about. I really cannot think of one diabetes life hack I do or came up with. I am pretty sugar free vanilla I guess when it comes to my diabeetus. 

There is one little hack but it is more about my DOC life. It's how I read blogs. Yeah, this will work.

So, I use a reader called The Old Reader and the reason why is because it allows me to Spritz the posts in my reader. 

If you don't know what Spritz is I would ask you to check it out but clicking on this link and checking out the demo at the top of the page. Anyhow, with Spritz and The Old Reader I can read blog posts a lot faster than before! Like way Way WAY faster! 

I sound like a salesman but I am just a huge fan. Anyhow, this was kind of a meh post for me to end the week on but thankfully DBlogWeek continues through the weekend so I have chance to go out with a bang!

Thursday
May152014

Mantras and More - DBlogWeek Day 4

Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day.  Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day.  Is there something positive you tell yourself?  Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through?  Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost?  Maybe we've done that and we can help others do it too? (Thanks to Meri of Our Diabetic Life for suggesting this topic.)

I'll try again.

Those are the three words I tell myself all the time. For a long time I felt like a diabetes failure because I could never get it right. The fact is that the closest I can get to "right" is not perfect. Diabetes makes sure of that. 

So I try. I try my best every day. Some days I screw up before my first meal. And those days I know I will try again tomorrow to do my best. To bolus correctly and count every single carb. I will try to remember to check my bg before and after each meal and log it. I'll try.

I'll try because if I screw up then I cannot be too hard on myself. I have to give some room for error and mistakes. It happens, pretty much daily for me and giving myself the reminder that I can try again.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand the power of words and the last thing I want to be is a wishy washy type 1 right? So if I keep saying "try" then how will I ever acheive the numbers I want, the a1c my doctor would be happy about, and my weight where I want it?

If every mistake was looked at in failure I would never try anything because I am not perfect.

I WILL try. I DO try. I KNOW if I try I will get closer to where I want to be. I HAVE seen a difference now that I give myself the room to stumble. I CAN try harder. I WON'T give up trying. 

This is what gets me through the rough days and the not so rough ones. It works well for me.

Try it! ;)

Wednesday
May142014

What Brings Me Down - DBlogWeek Day 3

May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)

This is a tough one to write about. Often the things that bring me down regarding my diabetes life change so thinking about which thing to write about turns into a depressing venture.

When I sit down to write I am reminded of diabetes and the complications it can cause because my feet are tingling. I can feel two shoes full of things crawling around and picking at my feet all the time. It is an awful feeling and a constant reminder of how my years of ignoring diabetes was not a two way street. 

Currently my bg is a little high. I can tell because I am so thirsty. I check my bg and I'm right, 209. When I am high I cannot help but wonder what other damage this is doing to me. Do I bolus to get it back down or do a wait to see where I am going? It can be so depressing thinking you finally know your body just to let diabetes mess it all up again. Am I going up or down or??

And then I remembered why my bg is high. I woke up at 5AM with a nasty low. A low blood sugar that I treated to stay alive has now gone past my target and I have ended up high. I try to save myself only to put myself in more danger? The constant back and forth of blood sugar numbers brings me down big time!

Ultimately, the thing that brings me down is the fear of dying too early on in my life. My wife, children, and family have gone through enough turmoil and pain in their short time on this planet and I do not want to be the cause of more.

By the time I was 18 I had lost all of my grandparents, my father, and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Those losses dramatically affected my life. Choices I made and motivations were all shaped around my loved ones lost and my diagnosis. 

Am I going to make my daughter's wedding day a sorrow filled one because I cannot walk her down the aisle? Will my son and his son someday go through this blog to get to know the grandfather he never met? Will my wife remarry and move on once I am gone? What about my sisters and my mother? 

Dying does not scare me. What scares me is what will happen in the wake to my loved ones.