Frugality : Update

In my last post, I talked about the possibility of maybe filling one of my pump’s insulin cartridges and simply changing my site mid-use. Doing this would save how much insulin I waste both in tubing and in that “cushion” of insulin that Tandem’s t:slim pump has since I’d only be throwing those out every 6 days verses every 3.

So, I started my experiment last week. I filled my cartridge up, hooked up, and hoped for the best.

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After 3 days, I got the alert to change my site. By this time, I was down to 155u, so I was right on track for the mid-6 day site change-out.

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Now, last night was the time when I get nervous because a) it was night time and b) I had 18u of insulin left. Looking at my pump though, I used only .9u per hour during the night, so I would have had enough to get through until morning. So, I got my little change-out bag together with my site, tubing, cartridge and filled the syringe and had it all ready to go.

I got to work and after bolusing for breakfast, my pump was down to 2u. By 10am, I looked and it said “1u”, but I knew it would alarm empty soon…

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And then it did…

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So. After 6.5 days, I was ready to change out again. Best part was, I didn’t have any decrease in glucose control throughout the whole process. Granted, once warmer days get here, I may need to go back to changing everything out every 3 days, but at least during the cooler months I know I can do this as an option.

(*read: do not take this as medical advice for yourself. this is simply stating what I have done and in no way implies you should do the same. always consult your health care professional before doing anything different from your current treatment plan.*)

Now, on to find an angled site I can use higher on my belly or on my love-handle area since this growing little baby is now starting to use my mid-section for a temporary home. 🙂

Frugality

I was discussing with my endocrinologist this week about how much I love the t:slim and all of it’s features except for one of the main components – the cartridge with its “bag” design rather than a syringe. The reason being is that even though they may tell you that the average loss of insulin is comparable to that of other pumps, I have done my own personal testing (seriously – like, removing excess insulin out of cartridges and tubings and measuring them) and the t:slim, for me, does waste a significantly larger amount of insulin by the end of a month’s run. I know this may not bother a lot of people, but it bothers me. It’s, as my endo calls it, the Great Depression syndrome.

photo (12)I’m not typically a extremely wasteful person, but I’m not exactly the all-about-reduce/reuse/recycling person either. If I recycle, it’s because I’m reusing sturdy plastic cups from restaurants or water bottles that I’ve bought and refilled just to save from paying another $1.50 for water. But when it comes to my supplies and insulin, I’m very frugal. I cannot stand to waste. The reason being is because when I had my prior job, I had an insurance plan with a very high deductible, no offer of an FSA plan, and NOTHING, not even prescription medications (meaning insulin too) was covered until that deductible was met. During those years, I had to skip seeing an endocrinologist and simply rely on whatever stock I had built up, and when that ran out, I paid the full cost to see a doctor to get a script for insulin that I knew would last at least another year, and I didn’t go back and see him again. Of course, it all went against insurance, but even with all of these costs, I would have never met that deductible. So, throwing out a cartridge that I know probably contains about 40u of insulin even though my pump says “0” drives me purely batty. And I know, you can just simply recover it and use it to fill the next tubing and all, but remember, I have a very active 3 1/2 year old who barely lets me get through a straight-forward cartridge change now, so adding another lengthy step to this process, well, it ain’t gonna happen.

But I’ve been entertaining the idea lately of going only slightly off-label. See, the tubing and insulin that I use are both approved for up to 6 days of use. Only the cartridge is approved for just 3 days. I’ve heard of others who fill and simply change out their sites every 3 days, I’ve just not taken that plunge myself. If it works, I could at least save an extra tube fill (roughly 22u) AND cut the “cushion” of about 40 to a per-site-average of 20u. That would cut my monthly loss by a good bit, and I could handle the waste a bit better then. I used to do the fill-cartridge-every-6-day thing and change-site-every-3-days back when I had my Disetronic H-tron+ pump. It was what I was taught to do, actually. So doing it now shouldn’t be an issue other than hoping the insulin doesn’t break down differently in the cartridge. My next change-out will be tomorrow, so I’ll try it then.

“But what about the un-used tubing?? Won’t you be wasting that?” Yes, but I’ve also done some research on that. See, a few years ago, you could get split-boxes – 5 complete sets of tubing and sites, and 5 site-only sets. Apparently, this wasn’t cost effective, and really, in the end, it didn’t save the customer money at all. My thoughts are – a customer can reuse tubing (although off-label), but sites, once they’re done, they’re done. So, sites are the most important part of the set anyway, so why lessen the charge? Granted, it seems the only company that still recognizes that people like to change just the site at times is Asante because you can order the Conset infusion sets in split boxes since you shouldn’t need to change the tubing but – you guessed it – every 6 days along with your pump body. The sites are to be changed out every three, so you get 4 or either 5 complete sets and 4 or 5 site-only sets. Lovely, isn’t it? But, since their sets are proprietary and not Luer-lock, there’s no use pining over them. Besides, I could just save up all of that extra tubing and make some art with it for Diabetes Art Day too, so it won’t technically be wasted. Wish me luck!!

 

So, what about you? Any other frugal pumpers out there?

Springing Along

So, to make a very very long story short, I contacted a diabetes supply company back in January to see if I could obtain samples of different infusion sets and a couple of weeks ago, they came in. (Yep… if you did the math… that’s FIVE months. But they were given to me at no cost, so I won’t complain.)

I asked specifically about the Orbit set and the Spring Universal set. I’ve since tried the Orbit, and aside from not having an inserter, they are okay. Honestly, I don’t see why a set needs to rotate unless you have it in an area where you’re going to be moving the pump around  a lot, or say, on your arm. I personally found them difficult to disconnect as well, so I probably won’t go back to that set.

The next set was the Spring Universal. This little thing looks intriguing to say the least. The set is similar to the Animas Inset in that it’s an all-in-one site (but the tubing is not attached, which I honestly prefer) that you just place, press a button, and it’s in. Now going forward, I think it’s fair to say that I am very partial to my Insets. They’re simple, compact, and no-fuss sets and come in colors too. The Spring? Comes in the color option of white… as all the rest do.

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The insertion was fine and didn’t give me a problem at all. But attaching the tubing connector to the site was a bit of a hassle, not to mention taking it off. It just didn’t want to sit right at all when connecting it, and one side or the other seemed to stay “caught” when I tried to remove it.

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Sorry, these images were from a video I tried to do… and failed. 

After a few tries, I was getting to just how to grab the set connector to remove it. Apparently there’s a technique to it. But what was getting worse was the tape. The more I moved, the loser it got…. and I USED IV PREP! I rarely use anything but alcohol to clean the area and IV prep is for the sites that are hard to stick. Well, this thing was as if I just placed a piece of paper there. It was NOT sticky at all. I managed to keep it in long enough to soak some cement SkinTac around the edge and secure it more with Infusion Set IV3000.

I will have to say though, since all of that mess, I have been able to use with no problem (attaching/reattaching) and moving it around (you can position the tubing any way you need it to at any time) is easy to do. I am debating on maybe getting a box of these to try out though… with the pre-knowledge that SkinTac is a must. Reason being is that these are cheaper for me insurance wise, and I wouldn’t have to lose my insertion device that I’ve come to love. (HOW I manually inserted these things for so many years is shocking to me. *read: I’ve become a wuss*)

So how about you? Have you used the Spring Universal set? What were your thoughts on it? If you’re still using it, do you have any tips you could share? Thanks!

Infusion Set IV3000 and Sure-T Infusion Set. Friday Find-2

{This is my first attempt using iMovie on my iPhone. Sorry if it seems rushed, I wasn’t quite sure how to space the pictures out for what I needed to say. Will work on that before the next FridayFind video. 🙂 As for what I left out and probably needed to include, read below. 🙂 }

For the Infusion Set IV3000 tape, I have always flip-flopped between the regular IV3000 and Tegaderm patches for my infusion sets and sensor sets. But when using them, I always used the tape first, then the set, or I would cut a hole out and place it over the set so that the connector could be used, or both. Now, Smith & Nephew have made ones specially for infusion sets that go around the connector, but still help hold the tape down. Granted, these are not *supposed* to be used with sensors, but I did with my last sensor change by using it in place of the one I would manually cut the hole out of to tape the sensor head down {click here for my Minimed Sensor tips post}, and to be honest, it works just as well. Do I want to pay the extra just to already have the hole cut out? Eeeehh.. Not so sure yet. We’ll see I guess. But I do like having it pre-cut for sites, especially if I’m having to change everything “on the run”, because if you’re like me, you don’t have an extra pair of scissors in your handbag at all times.

Now, for the Sure-T Infusion Set. After 2 weeks of constant kinked cannulas {say that 10x fast!} and not one, but two mornings of seriously high bgs and ketones, I had enough. And, like usual, I posted the pics of the bent cannulas on Instagram which then posted them to Twitter. Then, I get a reply from the biggest fan of the Sure-T – Sara… Then Jess… then Dana.

It seems as though there were a lot of Sure-T fans out there. And, hey, even if it is a needle staying in all the time, it’s gotta be better than not knowing how or why all of your sets are starting to kink and constantly worrying if your high bg is just from a partial missed (or completely missed) bolus or if  your site is not working. Of course, the two “No Delivery” alarms should have definitely been a clue. So, after the last one, I got frustrated enough to bite the bullet and call Minimed’s customer service line to see if there was something I was doing wrong to cause the kinked sites. As it turns out, carrying a baby on the same hip as your site can sometimes put a kink in things – literally and figuratively. And, puting them too high on the abdomen (which, to be honest, I only have about 3-4 inches of vertical usable space {curse my short waistedness} that doesn’t interfere with hip bone or rib bone. Not to mention, since having BabyK, I have lost about 2 2″ circle areas that can no longer be used thanks to stretch marks {which are considered scarring, and sites+scars are no-no areas}. We concluded that basically, right now, almost my entire stomach is a no-no zone, and I should stick to the “love handles” and thighs, and maybe start using a different type of set. So, they suggested both the Sure-T and the Silhouette and sent me samples of both. Of course, I started off with the Sure-T. So far, I am in LOVE. Very easy to insert, and actually less pain. Since I just had a shipment of Mios sent to me, I’ll go through those and then order the Sure-T set from now on. So, thank you, Sara. You are the bomb. {Can we still say that?} They. Are. AWESOME!

And, just as I said in the video, if you have any products that you use that make living with Diabetes easier, send me an email and if decide to get it and I like it, I’ll use it in a FridayFind post! 🙂