Insulin, Oh Insulin, Where For Art Thou, Insulin?

I can’t do it.

I simply just can’t do it.

I can’t bear to think that I’m throwing away as much insulin as I am with every cartridge change with Tandem’s insulin pump. It just doesn’t feel right. Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me give you a run-down.

With any competitor pump out there, you can fill the cartridge and probably waste an average of 10 to 15 units filling the tubing and site during set up. From there, you can simply run the pump down to no insulin at all if you’d like, and only be losing that 10-15 units. Over a month (if you change out every 3 days), you’re looking at a grand total of 100 to 150 units per month that you’re losing due to the space in the tubing that needs to be filled.

With *my* Tandem t:slim pump, because it’s made with a bag-design, the pump can’t read all of the units that are placed in the pump. (Emphasis on MY because apparently this is different for others. I must have gotten a dud or something) Take for instance, last night. I filled the cartridge with 160 units. The pump recognized only 115 units of that. That is a difference of 45 units that will not be usable unless after I use the cartridge, I draw it back out and re-use it in the next cartridge (which is TOTALLY not recommended). But if you were to follow everything by the letter, I am wasting a massive average if 45-55u per cartridge. That doesn’t even account for the extra 10 units that it takes to fill the tubing on top of the already standard 10-15 units. So, overall, 55-60 u per change out… every three days. That’s 550-600u per month. That’s a half of a bottle of insulin or more per month that I’m throwing in the trash can, never to be used. Just since starting back on it, in ONE week, I’m down a half-vial. I’ve NEVER used that much that fast on any other pump. I knew when I started on the t:slim that it seemed that I was using a lot more insulin, but I never sat down to actually do the math.

While I love the pump and how it works, and yes, I feel obligated to use it because it was just paid for last year, I also don’t think my insurance would appreciate the fact that I’m literally throwing out half of what they paid for. And at ~$206.99 for Novolog (I may or may not have called my local CVS to find out the cash-pay price….), I’m throwing out roughly $103.49 to $124.19 per VIAL. On the conservative side, that’s $100 per vial, and at two vials per month, that’s $200 per month… that’s a whopping $2400 per year! (verses the insulin waste of a traditional pump, that would be roughly 100-150 units per month, with more going to actually being used, that would make one vial (for me) last 24 days verses 14 days, so maybe 1.25 vials per month being used with about $26-$39 per month in insulin cost being wasted in the tubing… $312 to $468 per year. Head spinning yet? Mine is.)

Oh.

My.

Um..

No.

Ain’t no body got time MONEY for that….

I don’t know about you, but if I were flipping the bill for someone to have life-saving medication and knowing that they were throwing out half of it because of how the delivery-device worked? I’d be pretty pissed off. That’s about $2,000 more per year in insulin cost to use this pump over another one. And yes, most people have insurance to cover this, but think about it! What if you didn’t??

As much as I love Tandem and their nice, lovely, reports, and the wonderful touch-screen, quick-to-use insulin pump, I can’t fathom that a pump that is supposed to be so “green” creates so much waste in an area that is so dear to us. Batteries are much cheaper than insulin, and can be recycled. Insulin can’t.

So, it is with heavy heart that I will not be using the t:slim pump again until they resolve this. I know they want to work with me to fix the other issues I had like the random highs and things, but until they fix how it reads the amount of insulin that’s in the pump, I can’t feel right in knowing I throw out that amount of insulin just for the luxury of using this pump.

(Just so we are clear – all of this is based off of experience I have had personally with the Tandem pump. As I have learned, every pump that comes from them can work differently (my first one calculated insulin even worse than this one). What I have said here is my experience and mine alone. If you have better luck with it, good for you. My thoughts here are also based on using the pump as instructed in the user manual as well as how I was taught. Any tips/tricks/reclaiming/ or reusing is not considered in what I have calculated.)