Medtronic CareLink and Browsers of Yesterday

516892_68656024On the FAQ pages of Carelink. it plainly states:

Which web browsers can be used to access CareLink Personal software?

The system is currently validated to work with Microsoft® Internet Explorer® version 7, 8 and 9, Internet Explorer 10 Desktop, Apple® Safari® 4, 5 and 6, and Mozilla® Firefox® 5.0.1. Other browsers might still work although Medtronic Diabetes is not able to guarantee proper operation of those browsers.


I use a Mac. (According to Dexcom, I’m already a complete loser, as their CGM software won’t even run on a Mac unless you use a PC emulator program.) I have two browsers downloaded on my system: Safari (which comes standard on most Macs) and Firefox (which is easily downloaded and what I use occasionally for some banking transactions that demand Firefox).

I know that CareLink works on a Mac, because I’ve uploaded my pump data before on this laptop. So, the other evening, when I needed to upload data so that my trainer and I could look at it together while talking on the phone to adjust settings, I thought it would be easy.

I got this screen when I went to Medtronic’s CareLink link on their website:

Screen Shot of Safari Browser

My Safari was “too up-to-date”, so I couldn’t access CareLink through that browser.

Well, shoot. OK. Fine. I’ll fire up the Firefox browser I have… Version 21. (Not Firefox 5.)

Too up-to-date.

And by the way, if I wanted to download Internet Explorer right now, it’s IE 10 – or 11. And wait, they don’t have a version for Mac.


If I didn’t have an amazing husband who is a web developer and happened to be home and was willing to sacrifice a pocket protector to the Geek God, I would have been not been able to upload my data. (He somehow configured something and magically, I have a Firefox browser that is…workable.)

I was able to examine the data that I uploaded, but I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for others who expect that along with the latest technology they get from Medtronic, they get an upload system that will only work with the browsers of yesterday.

Yes, I expressed my opinion to the support team at Medtronic. I was polite, but I did use the phrase: “Unacceptable.” People who know me smile, as that means I’m pretty angry.

Will they do anything? Time will tell, which is pretty much been my phrase about this experience. What I do know is that it takes just one web developer to fix it and make sure that it works with all systems when there is an upgrade… I’m sure they can spare someone in their IT department.

Like I told you before, Medtronic, while allowing me to trial the system and all that comes with it, does not expect that everything I say will be rainbows and glitter about my experience.

The diabetes community talks incessantly (and I believe, sometimes to the wall) about the crucial need for integrated technology to make our lives easier to manage our diabetes. The Medtronic MiniMed 530G with Enlite is an integrated pump and continuous glucose monitor (and that threshold suspend, which I’ll write about soon… promise), but it’s an utter fail if you can’t use the browser… or two browsers…. or system… that you have to review the data and reports. Fail. (It’s not just Medtronic… Dexcom has failed me, too.) What good is the data if you can’t get to it?

Parting Thought

Heads up, Medtronic IT department. Please update your CareLink application and browser compatibility. (I’m not going to even talk about Chrome, which you supposedly don’t support at all…)

P.S. I’ll write about the actual reports that CareLink provides in another post. They do deserve a post of their own. But jeez.

Come. On.






Feeling Frisky With The TSA

Through TSA’s layered approach to security, and to align more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, effective April 25, 2013 TSA will allow knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs as part of their carry-on baggage. This is part of an overall Risk-Based Security approach, which allows Transportation Security Officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives. – Statement on the TSA’s website

Apparently insulin pumps and CGMs fall under the “higher threat items” these days.

This is what a TSA agent sees with a millimeter wave scanner used at many airports. (Wikipedia)

I’ve flown a lot in the last 20 years.

Pre-9/11, you could sprint down the concourse to your gate, wheezing loudly as you handed your ticket while hiking your overstuffed carry-on onto your shoulder. (Oh, no. I never ever did that. Ok, maybe once. Twice. Three times a lady…)

Our world changed forever on that horrific day, along with security measures that sometimes have us scratching our collective heads. I was living overseas when the first inkling of how flying would be for me from then on.

Two months after 9/11, I braved a series of flights back to the U.S. to visit family. In Brussels, I was asked to remove my boots and pump, hold my shirt up, exposing my abdomen for the rubber-neckers walking by, and then was patted down before I could get to the gate.  Arriving at JFK, I never left the passenger area, but still endured another round of boot and pump removal, free peep show, and a little touchy-feely before I could get on the next plane. I told them I was a diabetic and the pump was full of insulin and the strange thing was: Not a single security person cared.

I wasn’t the only person who was subjected to intense scrutiny and we were all a little on edge back then. I wasn’t upset. I was scared. I figured there was a good reason for all the friskiness.

Time marches on and while we don’t know how many lives have been saved by airport security measures, we do know this:

Something is wrong with the TSA’s training.

Kerri Sparling’s post about her experience with TSA Agents at San Francisco’s airport has opened up an interesting dialogue within the diabetes community that deserves to be heard by the TSA. Many diabetics and their family members have dealt with less than courteous agents, inconsistent actions regarding pumps and supplies, and embarrassment. She’s right that we all deserve to be treated with respect when it comes to the TSA (and in general, but let’s start with the TSA, shall we?); not just diabetics, but anyone who travels with a medical condition.

The TSA’s website has extensive information about what passengers can expect when going through security, with different handy-dandy sections for different medical conditions. Are you a passenger with diabetes? Covered.  Are you a passenger with an external medical device (like a pump or a CGM? Covered. What I found interesting is this statement:

If a passenger uses an insulin pump, he or she can be screened without disconnecting from the pump. However, it is important for the passenger to inform the officer conducting the screening about the pump before the screening process begins.

Passengers who have insulin pumps can be screened using imaging technology, metal detector, or a thorough patdown. A passenger can request to be screened by patdown in lieu of imaging technology.

It’s not happening, if you listen to many diabetics. TSA agents tell some that it’s perfectly acceptable to put your pump through the Xray machines. Nope. It’s not, according to Medtronic and Animas. We have the right to ask for a patdown if the TSA agent squawks. And they often do.

You see, they’re very busy. Busy, busy, busy. They don’t have time to call over a gender-appropriate agent to give you a thorough going over. They want to just get you through the line. You slow them down. So, if someone cut them off on the way into work or made a smart remark about what they do for a living, they may choose to take it out…on you.

BTB (which stands for “Before The Baby”), I was a traveling fool. The kind of fool that would wake up in a hotel room and not know which city she was in. I spent far too much time in airports each week across the country, from the busiest (Atlanta) to the um, not so busy (Mackinac Island). Flying cross-country became rote, but the way that TSA agents handled my equipment and supplies was anything but.

  • Some TSA agents wanted to swab my hands and the pump. Some didn’t.
  • Some TSA agents let me walk through the metal detector, pick up my things, and move on. Some didn’t.
  • Some TSA agents tried to get me to use the millimeter wave scanner instead of a patdown. (I did that once and guess what… I still had to  get a patdown.) Some didn’t.
  • Some TSA agents acted as if it was no big deal. Some didn’t.

And that’s where I see the issue. Inconsistency. If I go to McDonald’s in Seattle or in Orlando, a Big Mac will taste the same. Why can’t the TSA do that?

We aren’t the only group of people who are not treated consistently by TSA. We hear about them everyday and what is consistent in every news story is they way the individual was treated by the agents. (GIve you a hint: Poorly.)

Is it wrong to ask for consistency? (Not the way they treat people; some agents need work on manners.)

It’s not as if there are 50 types of pumps or 50 types of CGMs. Why can’t they have a pocket guide? One of those: If the passenger presents a device like this (with pictures, of course), then they have the right to the following… 

Why not?

I hate that phrase: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” but in this case, I’m taking it to heart. I’d help write a pocket reference guide for the TSA. Heck, any of us probably could.

This won’t stop with a scattering of blog posts by diabetics. It shouldn’t anymore. Actions need to be taken to help the TSA recognize what rights diabetics have and the devices that keep us healthy.

We deserve more.

(In the meantime, I’m off to fill a carry-on bag with knives and lacrosse sticks.)

Shawty Got Low, Low, Low…

FloRida doing the Fonzie. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)
FloRida doing the Fonzie. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

Shawty had them apple bottom jeans
Boots with the fur 
The whole club was looking at her
She hit the floor 
Next thing you know
Shawty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low…

– “Low” FloRida* featuring T-Pain 

I’ve been Shawty** for a while.

The problem with trying to get into better control is that, for a while at least, you feel out of control. And boy, I’m feeling it these days.

Thanks to my CGM, I know now that my basal and my correction bolus rates are off. I was bottoming out (without the apple jeans) at night and waking up in the 200s. I then spent the morning chasing the dragon, trying to bring it down to a normal range. What would happen? I’d bottom out. Again. (The correction bolus was off.) And then a single juice box would shoot me over 200. So, I’d correct. And it became a vicious cycle until bedtime. Low, juice, snack, high, correction, low, juice… You know the drill.

I dropped my sensitivity factor ratio by 20 points and the spikes and crashes got less frequent, but the overnight basals were leaving me zombified in the mornings. Beep. 2am. Juice. Snack. Beep. 4am. Juice. Beep. 7am. One night I slept through the regular alarm of the CGM (I’ve now changed my Dexcom to HypoAlert. That sucker is loud.), and went two hours in the 40s and 50s. I’ve had days with only two hypoglycemic episodes and others with six in twenty-four hours. All for the sake of better control.

I’m still messing with the basals and last night was the first time in almost three weeks when I haven’t gone low. Of course, I still woke up because the “Hey, you’re high. You’re high. Excuse me. Excuse me. You’re high!” alarm kept going off. And in reviewing the graph, I went from one extreme to another. ::sigh:: It will be fixed, eventually, but right now, I’m frustrated.

See, this isn’t the first time. If I lose three pounds, everything changes. Gain them back? Change.  Some days, delayed gastric emptying seems to be the norm. I’ll eat and crash, but four hours later, that meal kicks in. Other days? All quiet. I just don’t know which day (or night) I’ll have. My diabetes and my life and my stomach are not playing well together, making it difficult to determine what the right basal rates I need to bring me off the dance floor and out of those apple bottom jeans***.

*FloRida’s real name is Tramar Lacel Dillard and yes, he was born in Florida. I would like to see more singers try that… “Now on stage… SasKatchewan!” Hmm…  You want to see the video of Low? Here it is in all its glory.  (Once again, I’d suggest no kids in the room.)

**While I am short, I am not a Shawty. This song was very popular in the clubs when I would go to Vegas, but never did the whole club look at me. 

***And for the record, I neither own apple bottom jeans nor boots with the fur. 


Slave To The Rhythm

Grace Jones is bad ass.

Model, muse to many fashion designers, Andy Warhol’s Studio 54 buddy, actress (Although I will readily admit, I use that term loosely with her.), and singer. Her 1985 song, Slave To The Rhythm, has been pounding in my head for the last few weeks, the lyrics nagging me.

Work to the rhythm,

Live to the rhythm,

Love to the rhythm,

Slave to the rhythm.

I’ve come to realize,  the rhythm in my life is The Beep. My meter beeps. My pump beeps. My Dexcom beeps. (Yes, my iPhone beeps, too. Sigh.) I’m a slave to The Beep. It’s what keeps me in check, keeps me alive, and keeps me going. And in doing so, keeps me chained.

I’m looking for some emancipation from being a pack camel of equipment and their appropriate adapters, but I know it’s not happening anytime soon. How about some integration then? I know I’m not alone in saying this: “Why can’t I have a single piece of technology to manage my diabetes?’ One thing that beeps instead of a cacophonous choir of electronic whips, urging me to do something.

My Minimed Pump/Paradigm combination tried to quiet the noise in my head. It really did. A good ol’ college try and I tried to like it. For a year, the pump gave that graph and beeped accordingly. But it hurt. The Paradigm’s sensors…. Ow. Ow. Ow. Did I say Ow? I cringed at the thought of inserting one more Paradigm sensor and realized that as much as I didn’t want to carry another piece of technology, it was inevitable.

I’m happy with the Dexcom G4. Even happier than when I was using the Dexcom Seven +. (And those sensors? Don’t hurt nearly as much. What’s up with the transmitter size though? Oh, I digress…) But it’s still another electronic device.

I want a system that integrates my pump with my CGM and my meter and my smartphone and….wait for it….the ability to download all this information wirelessly to the cloud for viewing on the Internet. 

The technology options are close. Oh so close. I’m liking where the OneTouch Verio Sync is going. (DiaTribe has a fabulous first look here.) I’m also into the Dexcom G4/Animas Vibe idea, but I’m not switching pumps due to insurance.

We’re not all there yet. So close and yet so many things to carry around.

With my current configuration, I can’t upload my pump settings/bolus/BG readings in the same place as my Dexcom G4 readings (Actually, I can’t upload my readings at all. Dexcom, meet my Mac.) Diasend looks promising, but according to the website, it doesn’t work with my pump. And proprietary cords? Do not get me started. USB, people. What’s wrong with a simple USB cord?

Any solutions? Help. Otherwise I’ll be stuck with Grace Jones and her androgynous haircut and razor sharp shoulder pads haunting me forever.