Drama on the diabetes front

Okay seriously, how the heck do I go for more than a year doing something wrong and it only starts showing up now?

I’ve had major blood sugar issues for over a week now. I’ve changed my infusion four times since the highs started taking over my blood stream; I’ve changed my insulin vial completely; I’ve been getting up in the middle of the night testing; I’ve gone hours and hours without eating; and I’ve done BG correction after BG correction with no improvements. For a princess who’s used to averaging between 5.0 and 7.0, readings, getting ones between 12.0 and 18.0 is so NOT cool. And not healthy.

I think I was pretty close to my breaking point today. I changed my infusion again this morning to discover more air bubbles in the line and the canula was full-on bent out of shape, which would definitely explain the blood sugar drama. It was vexing because after having almost no problems at all with my infusion sites, I’ve now had two issues in a row. But, I diligently changed it and thought I’d see improvement. My after-breakfast readings weren’t too, too bad at 8.1 at snack and 8.4 at lunch, but still not perfect. My 3 p.m. reading, however (three hours after lunch) was an F-bomb waiting to happen: 14.4!!! What the hell? I wracked my brain: What have I done different? What is new? What is making this happen? Nothing. My routine is exactly how it has been for months, I’m exercising the same, I’m eating the same, I’m not sick, I’m not stressed any more than I usually am.

When I got to the point this afternoon of being so frustrated I was near tears, I called Animas. I was sure something was wrong with my pump, it had to be, there was no other explanation … or so I thought. I spent a good 35 minutes on the phone with a representative. I told her what had been happening, what I had already done to try and correct the problem, we went through all the settings on my pump, went through my basal/bolus history, and then we talked about how I loaded the insulin cartridges. Bingo.

What NOT to do:
When ridding the cartridge of air bubbles, do NOT push them straight into the insulin. For more than a year, I’ve been doing exactly that, and the rep suggested it was probably making air pockets more prevalent in my insulin as a whole. Oops.

What you SHOULD do:
1. Cycle the empty cartridge a few times, drawing the vial up and down to lubricate the cartridge ?
2. Pull the empty cartridge back to about the 70 unit mark X
3. Put the needle into the insulin vial and with the vial upright, push the air in X
4. Turn the vial upside down and pull the plunger slowly back to the 140 unit mark ?
5. Take the needle OUT of the vial and push the air bubbles out X

Looking at that list of what I should have been doing, I majorly failed, getting two out of five steps right. But what still boggles my mind is how the heck I got by doing this for more than a year with hardly any issues that I can recollect?

The representative left me with one final tip: If you experience two unexplained highs, don’t wait, change the infusion right away. And this already expensive disease of mine just got a whole lot more expensive. Joy 🙁

For my diabetes peeps: Do you have any additional tips on what I should be doing to avoid insulin pump failure?

3 thoughts on “Drama on the diabetes front”

  1. Animas recalled a bunch of cartridges because they were leaking. Rather than make a lot of noise about this, it seems they’ve tried to contact each patient who got bad cartridges. Supposedly, if they didn’t contact you, you didn’t get these cartridges. I’m a little worried that they didn’t announce the bad lot numbers in a press release, as a precaution.
    I would definitely see that before I would notice something in my mail.
    People who had bad cartridges should have gotten a letter and/or an email that said, among other things:
    “Cartridge lot numbers affected by this recall are:
    You can find the lot number on the side panel of the cartridge box and on the packaging of each individual cartridge next to the symbol”
    You will also get replacements via FedEx.

    I haven’t been using the process you describe, and I wasn’t taught to do it that way by the CDE who just trained me on my new Animas Ping. I would check your lot numbers.

  2. You are one tough cookie. Nobody I know is more dedicated to managing an on-going medical condition than you. I see you, day in and day out, eating the right kinds of food, measuring this and that, running through all sorts of weathers … and you get tripped up by some air bubbles in your insulin pump? It just ain’t right. They can send a man to the moon, but they can’t design a system to deliver insulin without air bubbles!!?

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