Still in LOVE with my “Baby T:Slim”!….

My T-Slim

The above Photo was taken on the day I received my T:Slim Insulin pump. I got this Insulin pump back in November, on the day before Thanksgiving. So now, for me, “T-Day” also stands for “T:Slim Day”.

After these past few months, I am still nuts over this bit of diabetes technology. I Love its’ ease of use with the high-contrast touch screen, and 10-key number pad for entering my blood glucose and carbohydrates, adjusting basal and anything else I may need to, makes it so much easier than the old days for ‘scrolling’ with an up or down arrow button.

Today, on Twitter, someone asked me for a little run-down of what I like and what I hate about the T:Slim. Well, it’s like this: I don’t “Hate” anything about it!! I think this is the best bit of Diabetes tech I’ve owned. “Hate” is a pretty strong word.

I prefer to say I have an “I would LIKE” List. Things I’d LIKE to see added, but it is not a deal breaker if they’re not added right now. Indeed, the Tandem Diabetes Care company is new, they have ventured into the piranha-infested waters of the Medical device industry. In my opinion, the only way to go is UP!

My “I would LIKE” list is as follows:

** I would LIKE to see a slightly longer “pigtail” from the cartridge, It should be longer by about 2″ to allow us to tuck the ‘luer lock’ into our clothing… Me? Into my waistband or underwear.

With my Portable battery pack. See the 'Pigtail'?

With my Portable battery pack. See the ‘Pigtail’?

** I would LIKE the T:Slim to be integrated with the Dexcom CGMS (Continuous Glucose Monitoring System). If and when they do, I would hope my CGMS data would upload through Tandem’s T:Connect software on my iMac. At this time, Dexcom is a stand-alone CGMS, a very nice system, but it does not work with Mac OS!

Considering the CEO of Dexcom, Terry Gregg, in an interview on TuDiabetes (YouTube Link here) is a self admitted “Apple-Guy”, I find this to be …. anomalous. As I understand it, Both Dexcom and Tandem are doing trials of this now for the ‘Artificial Pancreas’ so… y’know, why not? The T:Connect is wonderful for me, and it also uploads from my OneTouch Verio_IQ meter. Both of these devices go into my main report in T:Connect.

** I would LIKE for the top membrane where one fills the insulin cartridge through, to be better marked on where to pierce the filling syringe into. I have noticed that I have to try two to four times before I can actually fill the cartridge. If I have not gone to the correct area, the Filling syringe plunger will NOT budge. So, I pull it out and try in another part f the little membrane.

Ironically, the ONE morning I had to do an emergency fill (I’d let the thing run completely out) before work, and Before COFFEE no less, it all went FLAWLESSLY!!

This is the T:Slim cartridge See the little part at the right of the 'pigtail'?

This is the T:Slim cartridge See the little part at the right of the ‘pigtail’?

** I have had no complaints but I have read several other posts in our FaceBook group for T:Slim users that the case/belt clip combo that ships with the pump is “Too bulky”, “Too fragile” and that people would like a closer clip for the T:Slim. Tandem sent us all a T:Clip case around Christmastime, which is nice, a bit thinner, comes in colours, but the clip doesn’t rotate.

I have pointed out on more than one occasion in our group that Tandem doesn’t make the cases. They have partnered with a company called Myabetic, who is known for dressy, quality cases and carrying solutions for the discerning PWD to carry their daily needs. Not just the T:Slim, but meter cases, cases for ones’ insulin and syringes, or pens, what have you… I suggested perhaps, that people should contact Myabetic with their wishes pertaining to this accessory. I use the T:Holster. This is a nice, slim pouch, with a rotatable belt clip and small magnetic tab at the top. This is a fine solution for me.

These are my T:Holsters. Very businesslike.

These are my T:Holsters. Very businesslike.

Yet, we all have different tastes and wishes. *I* would love to show this pump off. I’m not at all embarrassed to have diabetes and I really don’t see the point in trying to hide this part of me. I’m soon to try a rig-up of a Minimed belt clip on my T:Slim. Let its’ “Beauty” be seen! One poster in the Facebook group is actually using the Medtronic Minimed clip for their 5xx insulin pump series on her T:Slim and is comfortable with it. I ordered one from MM as well and will also try this.

I love the beeps, reminding me to change a site, Do a glucose test, Low insulin, whatever. I can hear them very well, and I need that sometimes.

I love the offset way the T:Slim delivers insulin. Instead of a Straight out, down the infusion line into your site, it’s brought up from the main cartridge into a smaller reservoir and sent out from this. Tandems’ Advanced Micro-Infusion is pretty darn nice!

This is, in my own opinion, a beautiful insulin pump. I got very tired of things we have to use as looking too “Medical”. Too utilitarian. If we HAVE to have this condition, I think we should have to use decent devices that can look nice. 

I know that – for some folks, it hasn’t been tested to use with an insulin called Apidra, I know of one who had to give up the T:Slim because it did not play well with her Apidra. I use Humalog, others use Novolog and those seem to work quite well with the T:Slim. From our group, I understand that if you change the cartridge and set every 2-3 days  even Apidra might be fine in the T:Slim. One must only be aware that this has not been tested with the T:Slim.

I’m very happy I went through the insurance hoops and appeals and got this insulin pump. If a medical device can ever be called “Beautiful’ in appearance and ease of use, this would be one of them. After all, I still call it “My Baby T:Slim” Even though there is NOTHING “Baby” about it in performance!

********UPDATE On Clips/Cases*******


I did a little experiment with a MM belt clip. Got the one for the 523 Paradigm series, and WAS going to gift it to a pal today. She already got one (!!) So I brought this one back, I tried my T:Slim in it.

Minimalist clip!

Minimalist clip, Almost a Perfect fit!

Nothing is really secure here, but it LOOKS nice!

Nothing is really secure here, but it LOOKS nice!

It works very well, but the pump could slide out from the side(s)…. So my Brain kicked in and I applied dots of Jeweler’s glue to the inside of the clip. I let this dry.

Putting some SNUGNESS in!

Putting some SNUGNESS in!

Glue dries to almost transparency.

Glue dries to almost complete transparency.

So, now it stays put. You can see the ‘dots’ of the dried glue, bracing the pump into the clip, but it is easy to remove when I want to.

So happy this worked out!

So happy this worked out!

My T:Slim is in the clip and the dots I put in are ‘tacky’ enough that it will not slide out. Now I can rock my T:Slim as the “STAR”. So pleased & I thanked our groups’ poster who had this idea!

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Pay it forward…

When my CGMS transmitter died, friends on Facebook actually SENT me Dexcom and Minimed transmitters and another sent me Dexcom Sensors to get me through as I waited on Insurance. This is amazing that so many people offered help! When I see these things happen it DOES tell me Humanity is still good and kind.

Dexcom is darn close!!

Dexcom is darn close!!

In my last few posts, I blogged for Diabetes Blog Week, and just about then was told my insurance APPROVED a new transmitter for me. I received the new device and my insulin pump supplies last Thursday … YAY!!

Pump supplies!! So nice to be stocked up!

Pump supplies!! So nice to be stocked up!

So, I’m happy to report that the Dexcom and one of the MM transmitters I received have gone to new homes! Less than 3 days after starting the Dexcom (Second kit I received on Saturday last week, because the first one also died of old age…) I read of a person who lost their Dex receiver and so as I was getting a new MM transmitter from insurance, I told her I’d send the kit I have to her when I got my new transmitter. 

New Transmitter from Insurance YES!!

New Transmitter from Insurance YES!!

I did, in fact send it out the evening I got my new transmitter and she got it on Saturday. WHEEE!!

Now, tomorrow, I have another P.O. run to make, sending one of the MM transmitters I was given to someone who lost theirs and some sensors to another person without insurance.

This is how people in the Diabetes Online community work. We send and receive in a never-ending circle of support and love. I shall never forget the people who had my back for years when I had no insurance, and then poor insurance that did not cover Insulin pumps or CGMS. I made a vow to myself I will always pay this forward when I can. Even if I couldn’t SEND anything, a note, email or card with support messages can heal the heart as well.

We who live with a chronic condition seem to have a heightened sensitivity to those of us who need a hand. Until a cure is found, I, for one, hope to never forget the “Angels” among us. We are all an awesome force of Positivity.

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Accomplishments – Big And Small

Today’s topic is about accomplishments. Big and small. “We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you’ve made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one’s) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small – think about self-acceptance, something you’ve mastered (pump / exercise / diet / etc.), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group / choosing to use or not use a technology / etc.). (Thanks to Hilary of Rainie and Me for this topic suggestion.)”

I would have to say when I was first diagnosed, I was told by my relatives and strangers alike how someone with diabetes usually had some wicked bad complications of the eyes, kidneys, legs, feet whatever. I always thought it was high glycemic levels that caused this. In a way, It was. Far from what I at first thought, That one’s vessels became so clogged with sugar, it would block the vessels over time.Don’t laugh, I really thought that!

I learned later that it is usually when the glucose levels aren’t stable, I was told how it caused small ‘breaks’ or wounds in the vascular walls. Even though these little ‘cracks’ are fairly common through the years, most people without diabetes and elevated glucose levels will heal up with minimal damage.

In the case of people with diabetes, it is also a problem AFTER the vessel heals. Those little wounds leave behind scars in the vascular walls, to which fat deposits would cling to. A sort of bad paint job over and over the same wall, again and again, thickening every time. So, with that in my mind, I made it a point to avoid high cholesterol foods and so on, in order to try to do something positive for my circulation. From early days, I would ask for, and usually got a cholesterol test done. It was pretty good, and even now is well within normal limits. As the kidneys are 80% capillary, this is good for them as well.

We have to remember: Many “Old Timer” people who were diagnosed in the early 70′s and before were urged to eat more proteins and fats than we are today, because we are now more familiar with the way these substances can affect our bodies. We also have the ability to monitor our own glycemic levels with actual blood tests instead a two-hour-old urinalysis like we had to in the early eighties. We have a greater awareness on how exercise and proper rest will help us in the long run. Even vitamins, within moderate doses can help many of us get what we may not get enough of in our food.

I’ve gone to community college and learned about nutrition science, How to look at food labels with a more critical eye than I used to. I got some nice background in my pocket to care for this condition. I like to learn new things and now with computers, iPads and what have you, getting this knowledge for free is a boon for many of us. We can study what we would like to in our own time and although I may never get a big degree or such, I’m having fun!

I learn a lot from the DOC and my pals on Twitter, but I try to take care to research and get more facts about a given subject than I used to.

Have a great week!

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“Memories” D-Blog week

Memories.

All of us have a special memory about our time with diabetes. My biggest memories of course, have to do with the diagnosis. Belfast, N. Ireland, Sept. 09, 1984. I’d been feeling pretty crappy and finally, on that Sunday afternoon, me and my (now ex) husband walked over to the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Casualty department to get this looked over.

> I remember the little, blonde lady doctor telling me in her soft English accent that they are admitting me.

> I remember being rushed up to the endocrinology ward and remember the first thought in my head, voicing it aloud: “Will I be on pills, then?” After all I was 28! This stuff happened to kids, right? Nope. Straight onto shots.

> I remember wanting at the very least a cup of black tea. No way! NOTHING for the rest of the day.

> I remember being embarrassed as I was very sick and threw up. I hated the thought of nurses cleaning up my mess and tried to not be a bother.

But, they did not mind. In fact they kept assuring me it was not my fault, it was ‘no bother at all’! After that was over and the evening settled in, I fell asleep as the fluids went into my IV.

A week later, I was about to be discharged. They gave me a letter for my GP, a bag of ‘Goodies’… Yeah. right. Glass syringe, needles in a packet of ten, and a few vials of insulin. A Clinitest kit and log book. A form about the home visitation nurse who would come see me. The Sister called my Husband to come meet me and I could go home.

As I was waiting for him, a woman came into the ward, making a beeline straight to a bed in the corner and they pulled a curtain around her. I asked one of the nurses what the heck was happening. “Oh, no problems,” She told me quietly. “She’s using a devise called an insulin pump and just came in for a check on it.” I must have look scared for her to divulge this.

WELL!! That started me on a quest for this device!! It made total sense! I had been reading about this stuff during my week ‘in house’, and knew the theory about insulin pumping! Why wasn’t it a normal item for all of us who had to inject this hormone? I was told it wasn’t covered on the National Health then, (even today it is not a common practice to offer it) unless one was having awful issues, or females hoping to become a mother and needed the tight control this would help to achieve.

I went home, put up with learning about my new life. My parents in the USA sent me money to buy a glucose meter, an AMES Glucometer. I was like the Artful Dodger with the chemists and doctors, finagling test strips and disposable insulin syringes. After a time, efforts by the British Diabetes Association and other factors for IV drug users at the time, made these niceties available on the NHS. Life with diabetes went on as normal for a little under a decade, I’d gone to the insulin Pens and meters got upgraded, etc. In 1989, I got divorced. Nothing bad, he was just too young and when he tried to blame it on my diabetes and eyesight, I realized what a sad guy he was.

Then, in 1992, my mother passed away after some failing health and I packed my stuff and was set to move home. My GP then gave me a MASSIVE prescription for insulins and new pens, needles etc. I had these filled there and took all that back home with me, most likely looking like a Pharma rep from Novo-Nordisc. I stayed with my dad and we had our memorial for mom.

He was my Irish "Terrierist" was with me for 17.3 years

He was my Irish “Terrierist” was with me for 17.3 years

I went back to sell up my furniture, get my dog, Toby ready to move to the ‘States and make my return to the USA permanent. I went by the GP and diabetes clinic to say my farewells, got letters etc. When I came back…. with more insulin and such, I found the adjustment hard. Most insurances were denying me because of the pre-existing condition and I was doing my darndest to get a job. No takers. It was wonderful that I had all that insulin and such to keep me going for a couple of years!

I finally had to go to the SSA and apply for help. I got it based on being visually impaired, and got Medicaid. AGAIN I asked about this “Insulin Pump” I still held a hope of getting. No dice. They don’t cover it. So my biggest memory other than diagnosis was when I did, in fact, buy a secondhand pump kit. The makers of the pump really stepped up and made a lot of adjustments for me to work this, training me in my normal clinic, They did a TS on the pump I bought, sent me “Samples” of the supplies I would need and other bits of help. I hooked up at home with the phone numbers of my Endo and CDE. We were totally going out of the box, but I did it! These folks who helped me in 1994 are still around, I still see one of them as a friend, but most have moved away.

Having that trust and those people believing in me, then, when the Medi-Cal system changed and the insulin pump was now covered, my case-workers always there to help me out as I wove my way through government health care were priceless! I got into computers in 2000, and studied nutrition and allied health at our local community college. All to the betterment of life within and without diabetes

Mainly, I can say my memories have all been significant. All of them involve people who had my back! All of these people have kept me sane and well, actually. I will be forever grateful that they shared my life.

With all of this, HOW can I choose “Just One Memory”? I cannot.

Home Screen

My new T:Slim got in November 2012!

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“We, The Undersigned” -D-Blog Week

With so many petitions out and about, requesting changes to anything from laws, to social norms, even getting new ‘Names’ for types of Diabetes…. There are also those having to do with medical insurance and what they will or will not pay for.

I was absolutely blown away by the ‘Angels’ around us these last two weeks. My continues glucose monitor’s transmitter went belly-up and I was very worried, because Medicare does not TYPICALLY  cover this for people who indeed might need it to save their life one day. I was fairly riled up at the “Ageism” of this policy. There were and still are some ‘Ageist’ policies in insurance and even in Social things. I was frightened at not getting a CGMS anymore from insurance! 

I posted my concerns on Facebook and people there in my groups had updated their CGM systems and sent me their older and still perfectly functioning ones! I have 2 MM transmitters sent to me, a Dexcom 7+ kit sent to me and Dexcom Sensors for the 7+ tat were sent to me. This had my heart touched to the point of tears. People don’t even know me and sent me these things to keep me going as I waited to hear from insurance about the replacement.

My last post, starting with: “I’ll Be A…. SUNNY BEACH!” is about the fact I was wrong in this case. I was APPROVED for a new transmitter! Boom, Done!

I probably had his expression...!

I probably had his expression…!

Just…. just …. Pick me up from the floor now….? I was shocked at the good news! I think there are changes in the wind and am very happy! I wish others I know of would have this happen for them.

Because at times, I feel that when you are young, you have Camps, you have activities and “fun” things offered to you. When I was diagnosed at the age of 28, I was in Belfast, N. I. and it was 9/9/1984. I was not ‘Young enough’ to go to anything other than a monthly British Diabetes Association meeting. I was not ‘Old enough” to go to senior’s activities ….Not that I would have wanted to, actually. Mainly, they were for the later-onset PWD’s on pills or diet, only occasionally the elders who needed a boost with injected insulin.

I’m 57, but I really do not feel ‘Old’! I get up and go to my job I love, I wear decent diabetes tech and am usually pretty current on most things like Technology, music, movies etc. I am unconventional in that I could never have children, but because of my eyesight I was not allowed to Foster or adopt either. So, while most people my age are doting on grandchildren, guiding the hands of new mothers in the timeless Wisdom of bearing a child, raising a family etc… I’m buried in Tech news, medical news… not what most ‘average’ people are into.

I do notice a few times, not many, but a few times, when some of the DOC peeps or my work colleagues would be meeting socially in my area, I am rarely invited to join in. Perhaps they thought I would be working or something, but to be honest, even if I have to say ‘No’ It is nice to be invited to social things. We all need a connection outside of the computer.

I doubt I would start a petition or anything about changing social norms like that, but I know other people are fighting big battles. They are trying to change insurance policies and big pharma or FDA ‘rules’ for things they need in order to live well with diabetes or other conditions. That, in my opinion, is a very important thing to do. It’s a nice privilege to have, that not everyone in the world does.

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Well, I’ll Be….! (Update about CGMS)

Type1 Awareness ribbonWhen my guy was in the Army, he had a DI who was from Puerto Rico and the man’s broken English was some fodder for fun for the guys under his charge. The DI would bellow out: “HooKAY! You SUNNY BEACHES, FALL IN!!” for an example.

I heard from MiniMed today… I’ll be a…..Sunny Beach!!

MediCal/Medicare COVERED the transmitter replacement!! I should have it by Thursday if not before.

I did not think they would, but I got called today to confirm my mailing addy etc… WOW!! I don’t know, but I was floored!

To those on Facebook who had my back, I really don’t know how to express my gratitude for the help I’ve received in these last 2 weeks.

I want to continue using the Dex 7+ I have, but will understand if it’s asked for it back. Always good to have a backup!! I do like the Dex for the loudness of the alarms. Bigger screen, but LOATHE that they have yet to make a multi-platform software for the Dexcom’s data. I have to use my guys’ Windows 7 Laptop to get my data uploaded. The T:Connect for my T:Slim insulin pump is multi-platform, Minimed’s is multi-platform. THAT is my ONLY beef about the Dexcom system.

If no one wants the sensors and 7+Kit back, I will give it a good home and use it till the sensors are done.

The DOC totally rocks, and I thank you for having my back. :-D

Sometimes we can feel very alone until something happens and we need a hand, BANG! There they are, those “Angels among us” we hear about.

This is D-Blog week, so I posted here to do that, and also to let you know things have worked out.

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A few days Later CGMS & the DOC…

It lasted actually about 3.5 years.

It lasted actually about 3.5 years.

Got a call from MM Today… They contacted me to let me know they got the info which I sent the therapy guy – my past 60 days of bg’s etc. He is actually optimistic of a new transmitter being obtainable. I had sent him the Tandem reports, and he was all over them. He said: “I wish ours looked as nice” and “I like the Tandem reports. This is the first time I’ve seen this…”

When my Transmitter died, I was told by my insurance that they typically do NOT cover CGMS, but as I already HAD one when the insurance changed “We’ll try, anyway!”. But I posted about my anxiety on this, and People here in Facebook SENT me a Dexcom 7+, another sent me a MM transmitter that is still perfectly functional, It’s reading now, actually…!

PWD in the DOC are AWESOME!!! I cannot express how much I appreciate all these folks who have my back!

Dexcom is darn close!!

Dexcom is darn close!!

I’m wearing both CGMS systems right now to give a ‘report’ of each to my Endo and CDE, Thought I’d share with you here.

The pros of each are:

Dexcom 7+: BIG display, very audible alarms, seems so close to my meter it’s nuts, Sensor insertion is not painful at all. Receiver can be charged, transmitter doesn’t need charged. Rechargeable receiver, no Battery hunt!

Minimed (CGMS alone) I already have the 723 pump which I use as the reader for the CGMS. Smaller sensor and can cover the whole whack to shower. Software is Mac/Win Compatible. My Endo does the MM downloads in office and I can at home thru Carelink. With the transmitter I’m using now, MM is also very close to my meter BG’s.

Cons of each:

Dexcom 7+: is an older model and most likely will be discontinued within a year or so. Receiver is bigger. Sensor and transmitter is not actually waterproof, so if I shower and it gets wet, I have about an hour of very high readings. Software is Windows only. My Endo is (Seemingly) MM-centric.

Minimed (CGMS) OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW……. ’nuff said on sensor insertion. They are a somewhat painful insert, but once done, no pain… Alarm’s not as audible and I can miss some of the alerts. Harder to see display. MM needs it’s transmitter charged at LEAST every 6 days, requires me to disconnect from sensor, the receiver is powered by AAA battery I usually have to replace this every 3 weeks. but I cover the sensor/Transmitter and hop into the shower without a problem.

Both CGMS's and my meter reading

Both CGMS’s and my meter reading One’s too high & the other’s not caught up yet!

Many people say the Dex is more expensive, but I disagree. I think they are very close in price. 4 sensors on Dexcom are a few dollars more than 10 of the MM’s, but these are for 7+ day wear. Not just three days as the MM ones are. Either receiver can be paired to a new transmitter if that alone needs to be replaced. Transmitter (DEX) is $550, MM’s is $649. Receivers depend on the type: G4, 7+ or MM’s which I am using my old 723 pump for, so it was ‘free’ in a way. I’d say either unit based on use and amounts of supplies, can work out to being fairly close to each other.

It will be interesting to see the graphs from both of these systems next week or two. I’m looking forward to see my “Geekdom” on paper!

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