July 27, 2012

Important Patient Notification: Don't Become Unglued.

I just got a letter about my son's pump. In red caps it says: IMPORTANT PATIENT NOTIFICATION. I am sure there is another on the way about my daughter's pump too.

Animas wants me to know that the keys can wear and we should check to be sure that while the keys were built to last, some folks' buttons have worn out.  We should reach out to them there is any suspected issue with our pumps.

Thanks for the letter. No worries. We hold these truths to be self evident.



I think it says something significant about how much effort is involved in living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) if users wear out the buttons that deliver insulin on their insulin pumps. How many times do you need to bolus to wear out the keys? A crap load I am sure. Each bolus requires a bunch of other stuff too. checking BG, carb counting, considering IOB, activity, protean and fat intake and a partridge in a pear-tree. Okay the pear-tree was deliberately facetious but the rest is only part of the reality. 


But I get it. Pat attention to the devices too. We have had screens crack, button labels wear away, the rubber cover over the buttons come off, cases split and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. These pumps are on the kids all the time. The pumps take a pounding. 


As if to prove that there is actual rage in a rage bolus we have a broken window upstairs where by son threw a meter that registered unexpectedly high results. I guess at times, all pump buttons get mashed with  a wee bit of emotion. 


Pumps are in use 24/7/365. They go into all kinds of hostile environments regularly. For example my teens' bedrooms, talk about jungles. For the most part the pumps are just fine. That occasionally something is a little off is inevitable. Maybe my kids don't mention it right away. 


I actually think that is great. It means the kids are living life and the pump is going along for the ride. Not - The kids are putting the pump first and avoiding normal kid activities to protect the stupid thing. That is how it should be. Life first, diabetes second. 

Part of our responsibility as users is to pay attention and if something looks funny or acts funny to call the manufacturer. That seems really obvious but somehow I suspect that a notice in the mail means that someone waited for a little funny to become flat out doesn't work. Maybe, from time to time I need to check in with the kids and be sure all is well. 

Animas has been great with us replacing worn and broken pumps. So have a host of other companies like meter manufacturers. I wrote about mySentry a few days ago. I didn't write that somehow it malfunctioned and their normal call process managed to have a new unit in my home at 10:00 am based on a 9:00 pm phone call the night before. (While I was on #DSMA) Great service from the companies happens because there are plans to do it and people who will make sure it happens. (Same for great DOC Twitter chats come to think of it.)

So when I see a letter like this about my son's pump, or the one we'll get tomorrow about my daughters, I see it as a a sign that industry goes to great lengths to support the devices my kids rely on. These firms understand how significant the effort is to try to live well with T1D. They compete, in part, with service.

T1D is stressful. Most of that has little to do with the devices and more to do with the emotions and variability of diabetes itself. So I don't become unglued by an "important patient notification." I see the letters as a sign that people have our back. It is good to know that.

Thanks for being there.

Thanks for the reminder.