Monday, December 3, 2012

Required Insulin Pump Infusion Set Review

I finally received my Tandem t:slim insulin pump. I am mostly happy with it. As with all things, the more you like something, the more you can find to complain about. Just ask my gal pal!

I love the rechargeable battery. Which is interesting because the rechargeable battery was also the part I was most concerned about. Who wants to worry about charging a battery on a device that's physically attached 24/7? Well, when I take a shower, I remove the pump and charge it. A 15 minute charge once every couple of days will keep it at 100%. Even after 2 days of use without charging it's never gone below 90% battery. The rep told me it would easily last a week on a full charge.

One of the big "advertising" points of this pump is minimizing the number of actions required to give yourself a bolus of insulin. Well, in some ways they did. I can type 6.5 on the touch screen to select 6.5 units of insulin (3 actions). This is way better then hitting the up arrow 13 times on my old pump. But, then for some reason I can't quite fathom, I am forced to "agree" to at least 2 different menus (it's like agreeing to not have an accident when using a car's GPS). If I decide I don't want to give myself the insulin all at once, but over the course of an hour or two, I think I'm forced to agree to a couple of more menus. It's quite irritating. I wonder how many people read the stupid warnings every time. Get rid of them. Or give me a nice little warning option and allow me to permanently disable them.

During the purchasing of my new pump, I also shopped around for infusion sets. Infusion sets are little devices with tubing which connect the pump to your body. It usually has a little flexible cannula that allows the insulin to be subcutaneously delivered. Here's a review of the one's I've tried:

Inset from Animas: I've actually been using this one for about 5 years. If something that you use to poke holes in yourself can be chosen as a favorite, this one is it. I switch them out every 3 days and I've never had a mishap or attached one that didn't work. They do all the work for you. It's an all-in-one insertion device. Just throw a few in your bag and you're out the door for a 7 day cruise!

Spring: They sent me two boxes to try. I've decided they sent me two boxes because they know they'll never sell them all. The introductory needle is even more automatic than the Inset. I really like the way they do the injection. It's completely awesome. It's a little spring loaded device that quickly pops the needle in and out in one quick motion, but leaving the little flexible cannula behind.

But, then they decided to get fancy and make the part that attaches rotatable and put in some kind of little spring thing which detects when the base comes unattached from the skin. Why? I don't know. Perhaps to completely ruin an otherwise perfect design. Perhaps because they're from Israel and are striving to make my life complicated?

It makes the base too big and it seems to snag on everything. The rotating connector has a bad habit of either not connecting correctly or falling apart. I had one that looked like it picked up part of the plastic from the device and permanently sealed off the needle end of the tubing. In one box, I had two go bad. Not nearly as good as my experience with the Inset.
Orbit: I originally clicked on one of these because they appeared as an ad on my blog before Google closed down my ads. I'm not sure how that works when I sign an agreement not to click on my own ads, but I couldn't get the ad to appear anywhere else.

The ad said, "So comfortable, even kids like it" or something like that. I'm paraphrasing quite a bit because I can't find the original ad.

It's pretty neat. The first oddity was it required manual insertion which seemed completely opposite of what a kid would like. They only sent me two to test with and I must admit, I'd be more apt to buy more of these than I would to buy the Springs.

Where the Spring set advertises 360 degree rotation, it rotates by pushing in on the side and it feels kind of like shifting gears. The Orbit freely rotates 360 degrees. It's a little disconcerting because it seems like the tubing would just kind of pop off, but it never did for me.

It's profile was a little too tall for me. I'm fond of very low profile infusion sets. The base was small, but tall enough to irritate me. I don't think I'll order any of them. This, of course, brings me to my THINSet.

THINSet: This is also known, by Tandem, as the t:set. I got this one because it boasted a low profile. It may have even said the lowest profile.

Infusion sets contain a cap that closes off the site when you take a bath or go swimming. I hate keeping up with these things. They are small and easily lost and often forgotten. I think, most of the time, the base is self sealing to some extent, but I don't know if I'd want to test bacteria in a hot tub or pool for too long.

The THINSet base has a clever little plastic slide you can slide over the opening when you disconnect the tubing. The THINSet was also as thin as they claimed.

The only complaint I have against the THINSet is if you want to have an automatic insertion, you have to buy a separate device. It's called the Quick-Serter from Medtronic and I've heard reports that it doesn't work very well with the THINSet. The first time I tried to manually insert one of these little guys I failed. Pump started complaining about occlusions and blood sugar went up. Ended up costing me $100 because I was out of pocket when it happened and had to drive to Walgreen's for a syringe and insulin. Second try was more successful.

Next week I'm going to try the Cleo simply because I received a box of free trials. It appears to have an insertion technique similar to the Spring so that will be a plus. Then, I just have to judge the profile, size and reliability.

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