insulin & pumps

When your Insulin Pump Fails...

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide May 02, 2008
  • I've been an insulin pumper for nearly two years. I finally started pumping in anticipation of my diabetic pregnancy. The pump was the single most important tool in ensuring the health of both me and Sienna. Although I sometimes get annoyed when I wear an outfit without a convenient place to carry my pump or when Sienna little foot or hand gets tangled in the tubing, the pump is my faithful companion.

     

    Or it was, until last night.

     

    Lately, I've noticed odd behavior from my pump. An alarm sounded the other day, requiring me to remove the battery cap and reattach it. Then, it seemed fine. Also, the history showed that the pump delivered over 300 units on Monday! My total daily dose is around 30 units, so there's no way the pump administered 300 or more units. I would have noticed!

     

    I called the pump company and, as always, received excellent customer service. They said a new pump would be sent via overnight mail to me. Wonderful!

     

    This post could have been entitled, "When it rains, it pours" because, in a typical Murphy's Law kind of way, the pump chose to completely meltdown at the same time last night that Sienna did.

     

    Around ten o'clock I was sitting with a crying, fussy baby in my arms trying to determine if she was still hungry when my pump alarm went off. I grabbed the pump and saw that the screen was blank. Dennis jumped up and got a coin and a fresh battery for me to remedy the pump's problem. Unfortunately, this only worked temporarily. The pump continued to alarm, demanding me to remove and reattach the battery cap several more times before it was satisfied.

     

    Then, at around 2 o'clock in the morning the alarm began again. After playing with the battery cap a few more times, I surrendered to the pump and removed the battery completely. Remembering the two vials of Lantus in my fridge, I sleepily went to the kitchen to retrieve one. I then administered my first injection of long acting insulin in 18 months. I went with 15 units, roughly half of what I remember taking before I started pumping, because I didn't want to go low and had some basal insulin already in my system.

     

    My fasting blood sugar this morning was 91 mg/dl, so I guessed right on the overnight dose. However, my blood sugar steadily rose (thank you Dawn Phenomenon) until I was 125 mg/dl at 7:30 a.m. and 180 mg/dl around 9:00 a.m. My first experience of really missing my pump occurred when I saw 125 mg/dl on my meter. I would typically give myself a small correction bolus for that number, but that's difficult to do with injections.

     

    Also, now that I'm eating small, low-carb meals throughout the day, my bolus needs are frequent. I just ate a light lunch and tried to deliver 1 ½ units of Humalog via syringe. I plan to eat some vegetables in a few more minutes and would like to bolus about half a unit for the carrots. That's nearly impossible to do accurately with injections. Plus, I don't feel like giving myself another shot, especially for such a small dose.

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    And another thing, basal insulin is so much more predictable with a pump. I can clearly see when my Lantus insulin really kicked in this morning. Its effectiveness definitely spikes and then drops later in the day. Knowing this, I plan to give myself another 15 units of Lantus later this afternoon, effectively splitting my basal dosing in half.

     

    I miss my pump!