« The Friday Six: Information Overload. | Main | CWD: Parenting With Type 1 Diabetes. »

The One About the Dead Pump.

A little pump vacation, anyone?In my almost eight years of pumping insulin, my beloved pumps have died twice.  The first time was the night my diabetes turned 21 years old (clearly, it was out on a bender) and the second time was last weekend.  On a Saturday afternoon.  On Fourth of July weekend.

You know, when EVERYTHING is closed?

What happened is this:  I was getting dressed in the bathroom and was tucking the pump into the front of my bra for a little disco boobs action.  Only my hands went all fumbles on me, and the pump leapt out of my hand like the escargot Julia Roberts attempts to wrangle in Pretty Woman.  Little Ping hit the floor with a perfect BANG after the five foot, four inch fall, and the pump started to spazz.

"BEEEEEEEEP!!!"  Vibrating madly.  "BEEEEEEEEEEEP!"

I've dropped pumps in the past - plenty of times - but somehow, this fall was precise in its destructive powers.  I disconnected the infusion set in a hurry, not sure if a spazzy pump would try and empty out its reservoir.  The pump was beeping, and an error message was lit up on the screen.  I didn't see it for more than a few seconds, but it was something close to:

"Your pump is having a major malfunction.  Error number OU812.  Call Animas Customer Service immediately.  Even though it's a Sunday.  Srsly." 

It's Sunday.  On a Monday-holiday weekend.  Chris and BSparl and I are about to head out to a Fourth of July picnic with family and friends.  We're literally like 20 minutes away from walking out of the house, and this is when my pump opts out? (Read:  Or when I throw it against the bathroom floor in just the right way so that it dies instantly?)

I popped a new battery into the pump, but the screen didn't light back up.  With the battery in, the pump just made sad little beeping noises, similar to the ones Siah makes when I accidentally shut her in the walk-in closet.  ("Mew!")  I knew my precious pump was reduced to froast. So I rang up the Animas customer service line.

Nothing annoys me more than having to "press one if you're having a technical problem ... press two if you are having a bad day ... press three if you'd like to remain on hold for 23 minutes to speak with a representative."  If I'm dealing with a broken medical device, I'd rather speak with someONE when I dial in to customer service, not someTHING. 

Thankfully, with both Minimed and Animas, I've never had trouble with customer service.  I know people have different experiences left and right, but with both companies, I've had my problems resolved fast.  (And I appreciate that.)  However, this was my first time needing an Animas replacement (since switching to the Ping back in January 2010), so I didn't know what to expect.

Within 20 minutes of me sending my pump to its death, I was on the phone with the Animas "emergency service holiday weekend rep" (my term, not their official one), discussing where the replacement pump needed to be mailed. Actually, I left a message for her with the holiday answering service, and she called me back while I was on the phone with a friend who works for Animas (we were trying to figure out how to get a local rep to score me a rogue pump for the weekend). 

"Ooh, that's the customer service line!  Hang on; can you hang on just like a sec?"  I said into my house phone, reaching for my ringing cell phone.  It was like diabetes overload, as I foraged through the fridge for my emergency bottle of Levemir while on two different phones with two different Animas people, and a dead pump corpsing up on the kitchen counter.

"I'm leaving for a conference in Orlando on Tuesday morning, so would it be possible for the pump to be shipped to my hotel?"  It was Sunday.  I was leaving for Friends for Life on Tuesday morning, the pump was due to arrive on Wednesday, and I refused to go a week on MDI to reconnect upon my return to Rhode Island. 

"Not a problem.  It will arrive there, before 10 am, on Wednesday morning," said my Animas customer service weekend angel o' happies. 

"Great, thank you so much!!  I really appreciate all of your help."

"No problem.  If you need anything else, call me.  And enjoy your weekend!"

After unearthing my stash of syringes (kept in a shoebox downstairs in the basement, which meant I had to brave some potentially massive and murderous spiders in efforts to shoot up) and uncapping the back-up bottle of Levemir I had picked up from the pharmacy THAT DAY (talk about ironic timing ... more on that and the impromptu return to MDI later), I was ready for a few days of injections while I waited for my pump.

"Are you sure you're okay to go the party?"  Chris asked.

"Yeah.  Oh wait, hang on a second."  I ran upstairs and changed from my skirt and top to a light, pretty summer dress. 

"You changed your clothes?"

"Dude, I'm not going to waste this pump vacation.  All sun dresses, all the time."

[Animas Disclosure]


Girrrrl...I would have done the exact same thing...changed my clothes into something that my pump is difficult to wear with. Hope you're back to pumping again now and all is going well.

I would have changed into a bathing suit right away. NO PUMP makes summer stuff much easier but i am glad you are back to pumping insulin instead of MDI!

I love that you put on a dress. I think that is the one thing that annoys me the most about wearing a pump in the Summer.
Thank you for sharing the story about your reaction and the reaction from Animas. I am thinking of switching to Animas and it is good to know that they are as responsive as they promise.
When you have time, would you post more about your pump vacation and how that affected your readings and daily activities please?

That was one of the reasons I switched from the pump to MDI! I used to wear dresses and skirts, all day, everyday. Way to look on the bright side :)

This site is called "Cure For A Cutie" made up of a team of Jonas fans looking to cure diabetes. She makes and sells bracelets. All the money goes to Nick's charity, which I believe goes to JDRF. Check it out!

Thanks :)

The same thing happened to my Daughters Ping on July 10th. Animas got us a "loaner" pump on the 13th to use until all the paperwork for her new one was done. We switched from a Deltec Cozmo over 2 yrs ago when they announced they would stop making them so her Ping was out of warranty. Animas had a great program to trade the Cozmo in and the Ping appealed to us because of the IR from the meter to the pump.
Our experience with Animas customer service has been awesome. Always helpful no matter what time of day we seem to call. I just wish they would change it so when your changed the battery in the pump it did not lose the IOB.

That's one reason we chose a tubeless pump for our daughter, we don't have to worry about where to clip it. She wears substrates and swim suits all the time.

We don't keep a backup vial of Lantus. I guess we should though at this point I wouldn't even know how much to give or at what time. I'm curious to read your follow up post about MDI.

I enjoyed your story. We have not had a pump break yet (only had for 6 months or so), but that is a good reminder to get some backup Levemir.

Disco Boobs. LMAO!

I so love your blog! I especially had to laugh when you said you changed into a dress, and I understand completely! I've dropped my pump plenty of times, but never broke it. However, since I've been on a pump for 15+ yrs, I've had two pump "deaths" from natural causes. LOL. Both were equally unnerving. I, unlike you, did not have any long acting insulin on hand. Medtronic/Minimed was awesome both times, and replaced my pump within 24 hours. Amazing how we come to rely on the technology, so much that the thought of having to do MDI causes a panic attack!

My pump blew up on the 4th too, about 8:30 Saturday morning, at the end of a 10 mile run.

"It blew up at the end of a 10 mile run with a group this AM. The run went great but it was bleeping away and I was like "button error" and I was rather sweaty (we start @ 6:30 but it was already like 85 and super humid...) so I was like *$%#&" and fiddled with it, getting it, of course, sweatier.

I figured "well, I'll take the battery out" but that just reset the escalating bleep cycle, which is nice as the more extreme ones sound like when R2D2 sees stormtroopers. I was about 20 min from home so I called MM and she was like "we are sending you a pump but with the holiday it won't be there until Tuesday and if you don't send us the old one we will bill you $3700". I was getting a bit panicky going "ahh, what I am going to do" while she was badering me about the address and that I neeeded to be there "blah blah blahcakes" and I was like "I'll just call you later" but then I realized they might not be around later either and calmed down enough to say "ok, ship me the pump, I'll deal with work...".

By then I was close to home and, fortunately figured I'd go to the 24 hour Walgreens and score some N. Which, w/o an RX, is $68/ bottle!!! By the time, I got home my BG had already climbed to 260, which I wasn't thrilled about but I had a shot going "how the hell much of a shot do I take?" I used to think nothing of 10-15U of R but am 12-1 or 10-1. I figured 7U would clear up the mess and then I'd check in a bit so I took a shower and it was 91 about 20 minutes later! I may not need to go out to wach fireworks?"

That can indeed be a very inconvenient and dangerous situation. It is good that it has happened so rare though, in fact it sounds like the pump has a pretty good track record.

Last time my warranty was up, and I got a new pump, I saved my old one, so I have my own back-up. They both have cracks in them (the manufacturers ought to be able to use better quality plastic for the price we pay for them!!), but they both work. Fortunately, I've never needed a backup in 12 years of pumping, but you never know!

Seriously, I have been so, so, so lucky to not have to deal with a dead pump (knock on wood a thousand times!!!). Thankfully, I still have my old 722 in case my revel decides to go on the fritz. I don't even have a prescription for long acting insulin. :/

Luckily, I've never had to call Animas for technical support, but I have had to call for a billing question. I was routed to a call center in India, which I didn't love. The person was nice, but didn't resolve my issue. I called back a few weeks later, still India, but this time issue resolved. Why must we outsource? Grr.

Wow, that's a heck of a story, and bad timing too! My pump has crashed onto the floor, lightly, a couple of times, but usually I grab onto the tubing so the pump usually just makes a daredevil bungee jump rather than an all-out crash-landing. About an inch from the floor and it starts to bounce back up.

I would have cried... seriously! But glad you were able to use your pump vaca to your advantage.

Glad you were able to get it sorted quickly :)

Love that you changed your outfit!

Great Post!

I have been on the pump for a little over a year now. Your post has nervously motiviated me to prepare for a "what if".

My diabetes math skills have faded. I'm not sure if I would be able to do the calculations without a calculator. Let alone to figure out the Lantus thing.

My plan is to put together a diabetes back up plan today.
1. Make sure I have my current basal rates recorded.
2. Know what my lantus dose would be now.

3. What is my I/C ratio?

4. What dress am I going to wear when my pump decides to crash?

Thanks for the great post.

love that you changed clothes! i have only been pumping for 2 mths, but i have 2 weddings this summer and have no idea where i am going to hide this thing!!! LOL!
glad you got it all sorted out fast. i love my Ping and the Animas people here in Canada are fantastic!

i am so behind on reading blogs that my kid actually read this before me and told me about it! she loved the part about you changing into a summer dress! awesome! :)

Dude, you can't be serious about just picking up that backup bottle of insulin the SAME DAY. You jinxed yourself!!!

My pump (which I had for a year) just died 2 weeks ago too! On a saturday!!

Luckily, I got a new pump right after the weekend :)

Loved that you changed your clothes - that u enjoyed your pump vacation :P I did :P

Re the picking up backup insulin the day it blew up, I live like 1/3 of a mile from a 24 hour Walgreens. I'd rather store it in their fridge than mine and toss a bottle everyhoweverlong they last? My double-backup plan is to make coffee and stay up shooting hourly little 'log shots.

My daughter starts pumping Thursday. We have two full boxes of Lantus pens in the butter compartment. I was thinking of what to do with them. Now I realize I need to keep at least one and be prepared to buy more when they expire. Will also take a pen with us to Disney later this year. I love that animas will give us a vacation loaner but I'm going to cover all our bases.

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)