Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Busted Pump

Went to take my lunch bolus the other day when my pump just up and broke.  The most ironic thing about that was on my to-do list for that very day was to call Medtronic and see if I needed to replace my pump due to a crack in the battery chamber that had been there for over a month.  I was probably going to make that call about an hour after my pump just quit working on me.

So, I went to take my bolus for lunch and my pump wouldn't deliver the insulin.  This is the error I received.

The crumbs on the table give it a special touch, don't you think?



So, I did what any reasonable diabetic would, and commenced to FREAK out.  I rewound the pump and reloaded the reservoir (after disconnecting) and came upon the Motor Error again.  A good friend was helping me through the freak out and suggested I try new tubing and reservoir.  I did that and still got the same error.  I tried it with a new battery and still got the Motor Error.

I called Medtronic in Singapore after searching for their number.  Left a frantic voice mail and continued freaking out.  I was pretty well panicked but somewhere in the mix I took an injection to cover my lunch.  I called my husband and he was able to dial internationally and connect me with Medtronic in the US.  

Thank goodness, because I hadn't heard back from the "local office" at all.  

I went through with support at Medtronic and they confirmed that my pump was indeed busted.  They told me that my pump is covered under its' warranty until June of 2015 so they would send me a new pump.  THAT'S when I told them that I don't actually live in the United States and that I in fact live 9,000 miles away in Singapore.  The customer service representative wasn't really quite sure what she should do but she said they'd send me a pump through their global office and that "global" would be contacting me soon.  

I searched through my diabetes cabinets for my back up pump and couldn't find it.  I guess I gave it to Hurricane Sandy victims?  I can't remember.

With the help of a friend, I was able to calm down enough to figure out a reasonable number for a Lantus dose and take that (about an hour after my pump died).  I called my local doctor and left a voice mail for him to call me back so that I could make sure I'd taken that Lantus shot correctly, to let him know that I was taking injections, and to tell him that my pump was broken.

Busted Pump aftermath 


By the way, if your pump breaks, it's good to have a back up pump.  But if you don't have that, it's a wise idea to have some long-acting insulin on hand.  I'd also suggest having your basal rates, correction doses, and carbohydrate ratios written down.  Luckily, I had a Lantus pen in my refrigerator so I was able to switch over to Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) until a new pump arrived.   I didn't have Humalog (or anything similar) in pen form, which kind of sucks, but I had syringes and plenty of bottles of Humalog so for boluses and corrections, I just used that method.  

I'm not sure if it was just by coincidence or what but later that day, the Medtronic rep was at my doctors office and after I called them back a second time, the two of them returned my call.  My doc told me that I was taking my Lantus the way I was supposed to and that the Medtronic rep had a loaner pump I could use until my new pump came from the states.

Here's how I figured out how much Lantus I should take.  I added up all of my basal rates to find my daily basal total.  I took that amount divided by two every 12 hours.  Technically, you could take the whole thing in one shot every 24 hours but Lantus doesn't quite work as well as fast-acting insulin so if I only took an injection every 12 hours, then I could adjust that amount in 12 hours instead of waiting an entire day to do so.    

It wasn't until the end of the next day that the Singapore office received word that the US team had received a report on my pump being broken and that a new one was en-route.  They figured it would take about a week.  Something I hadn't realized before was that ALL Medtronic pumps come out of California.  Asian, European, Australian, and American pumps all come from the same place.  Huh.  Guess that just hadn't occurred to me before.  At least, I'm pretty sure that's how it works.  

Anyway, about a day and a half later, the Medtronic rep came to my house with a loaner pump.  I was sure relieved to go off of MDI even though it had only been about 36 hours.  I hooked that sucker up and was off and running.  

The next day, in a moment of clarity, I suddenly remembered where I'd stored my back-up pump.  I felt like an idiot for not remembering, but was still comforted by the fact that I did indeed have a back-up should I ever need it.  Since I was already using the loaner pump, I didn't bother getting my own back-up pump out. While thinking I had donated it to the Red Cross was a lovely idea, I'm glad I have a back up.  Especially now that I know a replacement is going to take a week to get here.

It was exactly one week to the day that my replacement pump arrived.  The rep was nice enough to come out to my house again and deliver it.  I gave him back the loaner pump and hooked in to my new pump.  It's been working well since then.

When I tweeted, posted on Facebook and Instagram a picture of my "Motor Error" I was really surprised to hear from many Medtronic users that they'd experienced the same thing.  One follower told me he's had SIX pumps with errors needing to be replaced.  With the exception of my 508 having an unfortunate run-in with the banister thus cracking the screen, I've never had to have a pump replaced until the Revel.  This is now my third Revel pump.  I'm really curious if they'll be a recall on this pump due to the motor error sometime in the near future, but I suppose time will tell.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Part 2: New Doctor, lots of Tests

So my new Doc, Dr. Lee, decided to have me get a full panel of blood work.  I was to be fasting and have all of the blood in my body drained out for testing.  Not really, but this list was LONG!  I was actually really glad though, because I've been wondering about some things and feeling like others weren't properly treated.

Anywho, I got a taxi after 40 minutes of waiting in the rain and headed down to the medical center for labs.  Little did I know, the results were gonna be scarier than that dang needle.

The same day that I had my labs done, I went to my doctors office to have a CGM inserted for my blind trial.  Again, he wanted a blind trial so that I wouldn't be interacting with the CGM but rather to collect the data and make adjustments to my insulin regimen.

One week later, I went back to the doc to upload the CGM data, review that, and talk about my labs.

The week that I was wearing my CGM, my doc wanted me to be recording all of my blood sugars, meals, and insulin doses.  Introducing the mySugr app.  Very cool, highly recommend it!  It was a great little app on the iOs and I found it was easy to use and maybe even a little entertaining.  I logged everything really well for seven days and haven't used it since. What can I say?  I gave up on logging a LONG time ago!  Plus I log all of my calories on MyFitnessPal so that's just way too much time on logging!

I digress.  So, I went back to see Dr. Lee.  First we went over all of my labs.

Testosterone & Estrogen tests were normal: no PCOS (whew!)
Lipids (Cholesterol): bad (CRAP!)
Hashimotos (thyroid): still uncontrolled even though I take thyroid meds (SIGH)
Uric Acid (proteins in urine detecting kidney function): high (SHIT!)
Celiac (allergy to wheat): Positive (double SHIT!)

Then we went over my CGM and it was fine.

So, basically, my blood sugars are under control and I don't have PCOS but other than that I'm a complete mess.

This was REALLY HARD news for me to swallow.  Really.  Hard.

I'd seen a doctor about my thyroid and possibly having Celiac previously but I was never actually tested for Celaic.  I played around with gluten free for about a month and then I decided to move across the globe and basically forgot about all of it.

This time though, it's time to face the facts and realize what I already thought I knew.  Celiac. Positive.  And no more wheat for me! That SUCKS!

As for the Cholesterol, I'm just gonna go ahead and say that I had already had a high cholesterol come back and this one wasn't really a surprise.  In the states though, my beloved Dr. Day told me I could wait until I was 35 before starting on any medications.  Not this Doc.  He wants me on a low dose of Statins.  It took me almost a week to take that first pill.  So far no bad side effects so I think I"m good there.  And if it protects my heart, then I'll do what I gotta do.

Hashimotos.  or hypothyroid.  So I've got that.  I have been taking thyroid meds for quite some time and I knew they weren't enough.  I saw some whack job at the beginning of last summer and he wasn't doing it for me so I quit him and ignored it.  Until now.  I'm on double my dose from before and finally able to wake up in the morning!  Hooray for that!

As for the Uric Acid, I got to do the ever so enjoyable 24 hour urine collection.  I never heard back from them so I'm assuming that test was fine.  Geez!  I don't want to find out that my kidneys aren't working well.  Guess I gotta stay vigilant and do everything I know to keep this dreaded diabetes under control.

Celaic.  Damn. I can't believe I have Celaic.

Switching over to gluten free has been difficult.  I think that's compounded with the fact that I live in a freakin expensive country and it's hard to pay for regular groceries let alone switch it all up and eat a different way.  I had some really good go-tos back in the states when I tried this before.  Some of those things just aren't available here and I've resorted to eating eggs all the time.  Not really, but... really!  I am so bored and need some good gluten free meal ideas.  Particularly lunch.

I guess after a few months of focusing on the big move, and home-schooling my oldest due to some unforeseen circumstances, it is time to focus on me and my health again.  It's hard when you're a mom and have another life outside of taking care of diabetes 24/7.  But it's wake up calls like this that kick your butt into gear.

I didn't reach out to many in the DOC about all this, but it's time I put this story out there.

Update on my progress to follow.


Friday, November 15, 2013

New Country, New Doctor (part 1)

I've totally neglected this blog.  And at this point I'm sure no one is reading it.  I'm not sure if I should just delete it or... try to keep it up better.  I think the stories I tell (about Diabetes) are important and valuable for some to read and I really love it when someone has a question about something specific and I realize that I've written a nice long post on the topic.  The only problem I have with consistently blogging about diabetes is that I HAVE ANOTHER LIFE.  I mean, Diabetes is my life, but it's NOT my life and I don't want to spend ALL of my time talking about it, or writing about it.  So.  Yeah.  That's why I don't blog here much.


HOWEVER, there have been a few things recently that I should really put out there.

So most of you know that I recently moved to the other side of the world and now live in Asia; one degree above the equator, in the tropics, on a tiny little island, city, country called Singapore (no, not Japan or China or the Philippines).  Anyway, there are a lot of things about diabetes which were affected by my diabetes, or maybe it's the other way around.

First of all, I had to find a new doctor.  I asked some really great resources for help on referring me to a doctor here in Singapore.  Several people suggested this one doctor in particular so I figured he would be a good one.

I basically waited until the last minute to book an appointment.  I'm not sure why I was dragging my feet.  Maybe because I had plenty of other things to adjust to what with living in a new country or whatever, maybe it's because I REALLY like my old doctor and didn't want to face the fact that I am going to be seeing someone new for the next two or three years.  Dr. Day, if you retire before I get back, so help me!

Getting ready to go see my doctor.  I was so nervous! 

He was.  or... is, or whatever.

The first appointment I had with him went REALLY well.  I was very pleased with the experience and found him to be VERY thorough in getting to know me, my diabetes, and my health history.  He took my HbA1c and looked at my blood glucose data. He decided that he'd like more data and asked me to do a week on a blind CGM so that he could use the information to adjust my basal and bolus rates.  He also ordered a FULL panel of blood work.

I wasn't really pleased with my a1c but given the disruptions to my life the previous three months, I decided to give myself a break about it and aim for better next time.

Stay tuned for part two.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Making Friends

Met a new friend.  Decided to go on a hike with this friend.  The hike was intended to be a long one.  About 3 or 4 hours.  So, naturally, being diabetic, I had to think about ways to prepare for low blood sugars along the way.  My sugars were doing really well, staying within the normal ranges so I decided to lower my basals by 50% like I would during any exercise and carry three packages of mentos with me.  That's more than enough to cover any lows I may have had on the trail, as well as share some with the boys, and their new buddy.
It's really awkward, you know, meeting someone new and having to jump right in with, "so, I'm diabetic and..." But... I feel like, when doing this kind of activity, it's probably better to bring it up right away rather than, you know, try to explain while having a low or something.  
New friend has a kid.  This kid is basically a big fat brat.  He's asking for my stash of candy pretty much right away.  I tell friend that it is hard to have candy in front of kids when, you know, they're gonna want you to share, but that I always explain to my classes (substitute teacher) that they'd much rather NOT have the disease than share my candy, or juice, or orange or whatever it may be that I'm treating with.  And, I don't go out of my way to openly eat it in FRONT of the kids, but sometimes you have to, especially in my profession.  
So she says to me, "yeah, and I guess if they eat too much candy they can get diabetes too" UGH!  Really?  So I politely say, "no, not really, actually you're more prone to get it by genetic predisposition than by eating too much sugar"  "Oh, I guess I don't know that much about diabetes anyway".  
Right, I hadn't noticed.

Had tea with another friend and when I explained to her that I wear an insulin pump because I have diabetes her reaction was, "Oh, you have it THAT BAD?"  "yeah", I said.  

I mean, I don't expect everyone to know everything about diabetes, not by a long shot.  But since moving, I've noticed this kind of becoming an issue for me.  

I'm usually one to meet friends pretty easily.  I'm outgoing, friendly, talkative, and usually that ends in me rapidly making good friends with a lot of people. I'm usually really open about diabetes.  Don't mind telling poeple about it, don't mind people asking about it.  Until recently.  

I've had kind of a hard time adjusting to my new life here, in Asia, thousands and thousands of miles away from home.  For some reason, well, I know what the main ones are, but anyway, it's just been... difficult.  Add to that the fact that making new friends means they don't already know about diabetes like my friends back home already know about it... it's just added to the stress of it all.  

I mean, how do you just go up to a person and explain that you have this chronic condition?  It's so damned awkward.  I'd take the silly questions my OLD friends had over explaining it new for the first time any day.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Traveling with Diabetes

Below are my experiences in traveling with Diabetes. Recently, I moved to Singapore from the United States. I was in four air ports around the world. I have taken many flights previous to this journey whilst having diabetes. I've also been on road trips and have blogged about my pumping vacation last summer for a trip to the beach here: http://sugarfreesweety.blogspot.sg/2012/07/pump-vacation.html

Disclosure: I am not a doctor nor a TSA agent. These experiences are my own and as always, your diabetes may vary.

I've got SLC International Airport down to a science when it comes to wearing an insulin pump. But, I had never taken a year's worth of insulin across the world with me. So, I was a little bit worried about how that would all play out but it turned out fine.




I looked it up on the TSA website as well as asked them on twitter (and they responded!) about how to travel with diabetes supplies.  There I found out that I could indeed take a year's worth of insulin as well as the ice packs necessary to keep it cool on the 21 hour journey.  The website just said that I had to declare my insulin before putting it through.  Easy enough, I thought!

As I approached the security check, I told them that I had insulin and ice inside my bag.  The TSA agent asked that I separate them.  I pulled out both my insulin and my ice and put them in the totes provided and sent them through security.  I hid my pump under my shorts and easily walked through security. No issues and on to boarding.

The reason I choose to hide my pump is purely from experience.  The insulin pump has NEVER set off the alarm.  But, I've been leery of taking it through before, thinking it would set off the alarm.  A couple of times, while traveling through SLC int. I showed them my pump, told them what it was, and then proceeded through the metal detector.  Because I had shown them my pump, and NOT because it set off the alarm, I got the pat down.  As security measures increased, and full-body scanners, and full body pat downs came around, this process also involved an extensive full-body pat down.  Personally, I do not think a simple insulin pump warrants such treatment.  It is a medical device, OBVIOUSLY  a medical device.  It is also VERY COMMONLY worn and used by millions of diabetics in the United States. Therefore, I see no reason why a pat-down is necessary.  Especially when it doesn't set off the alarms.  The entire process would make me more and more frustrated and I just HATED the entire process. The ONLY positive side was that my husband had to deal with the kids, their shoes, coats, bags, the stroller, and whatever else our family of four was traveling with... for just a few minutes, while I was held up in security.  He usually had it under control by the time I finished and all I had to do was put on my shoes and follow them to the gate.

So.  One time when traveling to see the in-laws, I decided to hide my pump by wearing it clipped to my underwear (I ALWAYS wear my insulin pump with the belt clip) underneath my jeans.  No issues.  Whatsoever!  so... that's what I've done from now on!

But.. I digress. In San Francisco, we didn't have a lot of time.  So little, in fact, that unbeknownst to us, our bags didn't make it.  Security at the International gate at SFO was basically a nightmare.  It was HOT and extremely crowded.  The line was moving very slowly.  If we hadn't had business class priority, we probably would have missed our flight... maybe.  I followed the same procedure I had done in SLC but this time I made the mistake of ASKING the TSA agent whether or not I should separate my ice from my insulin inside of my carry on.  He agent told me that I did NOT need to do so.  And... of course, my bag was held up.  The boys' bags were also held up for some reason which they decided NOT to tell us about.  Damn those crayons!  ha ha ha.  Anyway, The woman on the x-ray side started chewing me out about not separating my ice from my insulin and I got right up in her face.  I was NOT losing my cool, but very firmly, and calmly, I said to her, "THAT is why I specifically asked about it.  I asked him, (pointing), right there, if I should separate my ice and insulin inside my bag before I sent it through the belt because they told me to do so in Salt Lake City and he told me that I did not."  "And that is why I ASKED SPECIFICALLY".
"Well," she responded "you should always do that."
"Well, that's why I asked" I told her again.
Eventually, our bags were all cleared through security and we were on to the gate at Singapore Airlines.


Our layover in Korea wasn't really long.  I think we had about an hour.  It was like 4:00 am our time and we all did very well with being awake at that time.  I have to give it up to the Koreans, their Incheon airport was fantastic.  Security could not have been easier.  It was 6:00 pm local time and there was no line whatsoever.  A nice man helped us all put our belongings into bins and carefully guided us though security.  No issues with the insulin, ice, or any other bags!  Quick, easy and so friendly.


By the time we made it to Singapore, we'd been en route for 21 hours.  My blood sugars did very well the whole time.  I did check them quite frequently, as recommended.  My insulin was still cold by the time we made it to our hotel and everything arrived safely... except for our bags.  ALWAYS carry on your diabetes supplies, even if you are taking a year's worth!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Moving across the globe with Diabetes

Many of you who follow me on twitter and Facebook know that I recently moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to Singapore!  Quite the change.  And when it comes to diabetes and pumping insulin, a 14 hour time change is something to consider.

Disclosure: I am not a doctor and as always, your diabetes may vary.  

About 2 weeks before we moved, I met with my Endocrinologist.  He updated all of my prescriptions and gave me a good plan for adjusting my insulin.

The plan:

- reduce my basal by 80% the day of my flight (or upon boarding)
- check blood sugar frequently
            side note: It would have been really nice to have a working CGM but my loaner transmitter died so I was flying blind
- change pump clock to local time upon landing at destination

Some people suggested changing the pump to local time upon boarding.  I would not recommend that because of the distance I was traveling.  It takes typically 3-7 days to acclimate to the time change and changing pump settings in advance when your body isn't used to the change could be dangerous.

The results:

I took my doctors advice and the plan has worked pretty well.  About three days after I was in my new home here in Singapore I was fully adjusted to the time change and at that point I probably should have changed my pump back to the normal basal.  I did not.  And as a result had some unstable sugars which resulted in a yeast infection--- fantastic!  But, if I'm being honest, this is a side effect a lot of women with diabetes will suffer frequently.  In fact, it was how I was diagnosed 12 years ago.  So, while I understand it's gross and totally TMI, it's the facts of being a woman with diabetes.  Polly wolly crappy too!

Next time: traveling through security with diabetes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Product Review: iBGStar

So I did a really dumb thing and bought a meter without doing proper research; because of that, I thought I'd do a product review so that you can hear what I think.

The Positives: 

The meter was really cheap.  I've seen some of my "friends" post pictures of their blood glucose readings from their iBG Star meters and I thought it looked like a nice meter.  I found a really good deal on Walgreens and ordered it.  I think the meter cost me $5, shipping included!  Score.

I just discovered that I can use the meter WITHOUT  plugging it into your phone.  So, it is a very, very small meter.  But don't forget the test strip vial and your favorite lancet delivery device AKA poker.

I did like the log book.  That is easy to use, easy to read, and easy to make changes in my insulin and basal adjustments.  I really like that.  The graphs, logs, and statistics are all very easy to read and use.  I can email my data to my HCP if he even has an email address and then we can use that at our appointment.

It's a crowd pleaser.  Everyone loves that I can plug my meter into my iPhone and test my blood sugar.  And it does a really fun graphic while it's processing.

The Negatives: 

The strips are VERY expensive.  I called my Endo and asked one of the nurses to call in an Rx for strips to my pharmacy company.  Another mistake I made was that I did not look in to the price of said strips.  I was charged $318.00 for 90 days worth of strips.  My usual co-pay for 90 days (One Touch Ultra Link) is $50.  So, wow.  I was kind of shocked by that.  Once I'd received the strips, I could not return them.  So I was stuck using these expensive strips, hopefully making them last as long as possible.

I cannot use a case of any kind on my phone. I use the iPhone 4s.  It is really not a good thing to walk around with my case off all of the time but this is what I've resorted to due to the fact that I don't want to be taking my case off an on 6-10 times daily.  I know there's a case which keeps the meter plugged in all of the time but I OFTEN plug my phone onto a radio and listen to music in my home, office, and wherever I'm at.  So.. yeah.  Don't like that.

I really don't like haivng to charge a meter.  Finding a battery, even a weird battery, every, what? 5 years? is FINE BY ME.  But having to plug the meter in to charge, ANNOYING!

I don't like how long the meter takes.  It technically only takes about 5 seconds to register a blood glucose, but you have to plug in the meter to the bottom of your phone (or iPod if anyone is still using one of those) and wait.  It has to register the clock, register your last reading, and THEN it's ready for a test.
The graphic on it is pretty cool, but HONESTLY, I do not need a meter to do that.  I don't even need a meter to be in COLOR.  Just tell me the number.

There is no pump sync.  What a pain in the butt.  I hate having to remember the sugar, and scroll up or down to tell my pump what my reading was.  Meters which sync to pumps are MUCH better.  I know this may sound totally snob-ish but Diabetes is a big enough pain, devices which make it easier, I love you!

Errors.  I've had more errors with this meter than with ANY OTHER METER I'VE EVER USED.  When you're paying more for strips than you have for any others, that's just a real, big drawback.

The last thing is Apple's fault.  The meter will not work with the new generation of iPhones and iPods due to the different port they've put on their new devices.  iBG Star will have to go through the FDA again to get approval on a meter with the new port.  That's really lame, Apple.

Overall, I think the meter is too much of a gadgety gimmick.  It's not a practical meter at all.  The cost is outrageous and I'll be happy when I run out of strips so I can go back to my old meter.

Sorry for such a negative post.  If someone had been honest like this about the meter before I bought mine (totally my fault because I didn't read any reviews) then I definitely wouldn't have purchased it.