Friday, May 31, 2013

Insulin Pump MacGyver

You may have seen that I got hooked up to my new t:slim this week.  Actual impressions on the pump will be forthcoming, after I've been able to use it for several days and give some opinions.  In the meantime, I still feel like I'm in pump transition from my Cozmo.  Additionally, I think my brain is still in transition from last weekend's vacation.  Why?  I ran into some odd pump-specific trouble this morning.

I drove to work knowing I needed to refill my pump and change my site this morning.  I had a box of supplies in my tote bag, left over from pump training two days ago, so I figured I'd be fine.

Whenever you say "I'll be fine", you should probably accept that there's a chance something is going to go awry.  In that sense, I was correct.

After doing some things at work, I pull out my t:slim to refill it.  I can't slide the cartridge off right away, so that was a bit frustrating until I popped it out with a coin.  I open my box of supplies, pull out a new cartridge, and realize I am missing a fill syringe.

With the t:slim, the cartridge isn't like your usual reservoir.  It's different than loading insulin into the cartridge of a Medtronic, Animas, or my old Cozmo.  You get a big ol' 3mL BG syringe, and you inject insulin into a port on the t:slim cartridge, which you've just installed into your pump.  So there I was, the Syringeless Wonder.
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But!  My Cozmo was still in my purse from training two days ago.  If I couldn't refill my new robo-pancreas, I could just use the old one!  They both have a luer-lock connection so my infusion set would fit either pump. I pull out my trusty old purple pump pal, ready to remove the reservoir, screw on the spare reservoir needle and plunger I keep in my test kit, fill it up and kick it old-skool pump style.


Yes, with my Cozmo, and even my Medtronic years ago, I'd keep a spare reservoir needle and plunger in my purse at all times.  You never knew when it might come in handy, and it was easier than carrying an extra reservoir for emergencies.  It also meant if I had to change out a whole set before schedule, I could save the insulin left in my reservoir.  Nobody encourages reuse of pump supplies, but I have a feeling a lot more of us have done it than we admit.

But I digress.

So I pull my handy-dandy Cozmo out from my purse only to find it is dead.  Dead for a ducat, dead!  (I don't mention it often but I'm a Shakespeare lover.  Digressing.  Again.  Unprofessional.)  I realize at my pump training Wednesday morning, I had a low battery.  I now had on my hands a dead battery, and not another AAA battery in sight.

So I've got a pump with no filler at a 75% charge, and a pump that I can fill but no power.

This is when the reservoir in my old pump, combined with the needle and plunger, came brilliantly into play.  I filled my old Cozmo reservoir, stuck the needle into the t:slim fill port (after a test that the needle itself would fit), and muscled some insulin into it.  There was a lot of resistance, I couldn't get all 3mL out of the Cozmo reservoir into the t:slim cartridge.  Cozmo reservoir needles are not meant for injecting, obviously.  I managed to get about 2mL into the t:slim and called it good enough.

I ran the priming sequence on my t:slim, and so far it's working just fine.  I'm anticipating a big SWAG-gy, carb-y dinner tonight, so most likely I'll have to refill again tomorrow.  With the proper new needle, of course.

I feel like MacGyver.  I took the parts available to me, and I made it work.  No explosions necessary, though some kickass 80's background music was most likely playing in my head while I worked this whole thing out.  While I am mullet-free, I am now, once again, full of insulin.

What have you wrangled up in a diabetes emergency for yourself?


  1. Anonymous4:14 PM

    You are a clever person, enjoyed reading about your resourcefulness.......Kathy

  2. You totally MacGuyver'd that ish, yo! :-)


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