Guinea Pig: MiniMed 530G Insulin Pump with Enlite

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn second grade, Mr. Harris introduced us to our class pet: a black, tan, and white guinea pig named Zipper. He (she?) squeaked quietly in a large cage filled with shavings in the back of the room while we learned about math and good citizenship. I got to bring him home for one of our breaks and loved on that little guinea pig while our cat shot daggers from her eyes. She was jealous.

Hi. Please call me Zipper for the next 90 days.

The MiniMed 530G with Enlite will become my insulin pump/sensor system, along with all that it entails over the next three months, thanks to a trial offered to me by Medtronic.

Here are the details of the trial, as I’m all into disclosure:

Medtronic is loaning me the entire system for the 90 day trial, including the 530G pump, CGM transmitter, Bayer Contour Next Link meter and test strips, Enlite sensors, reservoirs, and infusion sets. After the trial is complete, I will return all unused supplies as well as the pump, transmitter, and Bayer blood glucose meter.

I will be providing feedback to Medtronic through a survey and a one hour phone call after the trial is over. I will go through the entire set up as if I am a new pump user, including meeting with a Medtronic trainer and using their protocols and help desk. I will be changing my infusion sets every three days and my Enlite sensor every six days.

They won’t be putting words into my mouth (which is great, because it’s already full of my own) and I will share my honest opinion, my ups and downs, and what I think about the system. They know I’m not one to dance around the real issues, so you’ll get what you always get from me: unabashed and never whitewashed realism.

I’ve worn a Medtronic MiniMed pump for years and I’ve been happy with it. As I have said before, when I first started on a pump, there were only two companies in the game. As I was moving to Europe, I chose the “not Minimed” company, but when I returned to the U.S., Minimed had jumped so far ahead in technology, it was a no-brainer.

Time marches on and the market has expanded, not just with insulin pumps but with CGMs, and this is where my trepidation comes in. I had tried the Sof-Serter and abandoned it due to pain and accuracy issues. When I attended the Medtronic Advocacy Summit in January, I spoke with several Medtronic employees who assured me that the new CGM is less painful to insert and more accurate than before.  We. Shall. See.

Why I’m Trying The MiniMed 530G with Enlite

I’m curious. (Isn’t that enough?)

I love my Dexcom CGM. I love its accuracy, it’s ability to eek past the recommended seven day readings, and the fact that my husband can take it from me and still watch my numbers as I snuggle in the other room with The Kid. (And yes, he has brought me a juice box when I didn’t realize I was going low.) I love my MiniMed Revel 723. My fingers know the buttons in the dark. It’s been a part of me for so long. There are other insulin pumps out there and I’ve petted some of them, wondering if I would like them just as much if not more than what I currently have.

But this Threshold Suspend thing that will stop insulin delivery if it goes below a decided upon BG level? Totally looking forward to that if it does what it’s supposed to do. My overnight lows, even with the Dexcom, are still pretty rough. I’m sleeping through my alarms until I get to the 55 mg/dl or below “prisoners are escaping” blare. By then, I’m wobbly, cranky, and I eat until I stop panicking. Total barrel full of fun the next day. As the Threshold Suspend is unique to the Medtronic Minimed 530G, it’s a big deal for me. Will it be worth giving up my Dexcom? Would it be better for me than the upcoming but not yet released Animas Vibe? Can I get over the non-open standard nature of Medtronic data?  We. Shall. See.

We. Shall. See.

I keep saying: “We. Shall. See.” because you’re basically taking me home for 90 days. You get to watch me run around like Zipper and observe this experiment in ThePerfectD.com habitat. Fun photos! Great stories! An expletive or two! (O.K., I hope not…) Reality.

I would like a water bottle on the side of my cage, please. Maybe filled with caffeine? Can you do that for me?

My name is Zipper and I’ll be wearing the MiniMed 530G with Enlite for the next 90 days.

Squeak.

 

It Ends With Us

1218864_75194824It ends with us.

Whether you physically sat in the room at the Diabetes Advocates Forum or joined us there in spirit, I tell you now. It ends with us.

We will be the ones to end the feelings of frustration with diabetes, the barriers to affordable access, the misconceptions of this disease, and in the future, the disease itself. However long it takes, whatever needs to be done, it ends with us.

After two days of intense, emotionally-charged meetings between key members of the Medtronic Diabetes team and invited diabetes advocates, this phrase is what remains in my head.

It ends with us.

Bold statement, you say. Brash statement, you say.

About time, I say.

I understood before the meetings began that we would be discussing the new Medtronic Minimed 530g with Enlite and discussing diabetes advocacy, but beyond that, no clue. I knew that Medtronic Diabetes and Bayer HealthCare had selected members of the diabetes online community (DOC) regardless of insulin delivery system and CGM choice. (You heard Dexcoms  and different beeps and boops going off throughout the sessions. Ahh, the sultry song of diabetes.)

Those who attend as well as those who don’t often wonder why these individuals were chosen to represent the diabetes contingency. (I see the questions on Twitter and the comments on blogs and other social media portals.) I still don’t have an answer on that, but we all had one thing in common: passion.

And that passion wasn’t just coming from the advocates. It came from almost every person I encountered with a role at Medtronic Diabetes. They do want to know what we think, not just about their products and how they present them (and we didn’t disappoint in our answers, believe me), but about how they can help. Not air quotes help, but real how-can-we-use-our-voice-to-help.

Not once did they try to sell us something. Not a product or a line or lip service. The Medtronic Diabetes representatives were frank and forthright, matching the honesty of the attendees. I heard apologies for missteps and long waits for better CGM sensors for their products. I heard requests for better ways to communicate. I heard agreement towards greater participation with advocates to reach goals.

There was laughter. And tears. And a lot of beeps. We all scribbled on notepads and tapped on smartphones and laptops. Sessions occurred in which decisions about future advocacy initiatives were identified and visions questioned for clarity. Some of my moments of ah-ha! came not in the meeting, but in sidebar conversations. Advocacy happens everywhere.

I’ll get to the nitty-gritty of what happened in later posts, but I flew home with that feeling in my gut that burns deep.

It ends with us. All of us. Not just advocates, but everyone who is passionate about ending. That includes Big Pharma and device manufacturers and government. Us. There is no longer a “them”.

And in order for it to end with us, it has to begin with us.

Get ready, because…

It ends with us.

Medtronic Diabetes and Bayer HealthCare paid for my travel expenses and meals in connection with the Third Diabetes Advocate Forum where we discussed online and offline diabetes advocacy as well as Medtronic products and therapies such as MiniMed 530G with Enlite. I have received no compensation from either Medtronic or Bayer in exchange for writing this post and the opinions I am sharing are my own.