Coordinating Devices with PumpPeelz

One little thing I like to do is design graphics. I piddle with it, mostly, so it’s not a big thing, but it gets my creative juices flowing and takes my mind off of other things that may be stressing me out.

So, I wanted to make a design to get a custom PumpPeelz made so that my Dexcom and Medtronic pump matched and looked cute. Crazy, I know, but that little bit of color and art makes having the devices not so mundane. So, I set out to make a design using a blank canvas in Photoshop and some “brushes” (some of them are more like stamps, like the ones I used). I also used color inspiration from my niece’s favorite show, Strawberry Shortcake. My favorite character is Cherry Jam because, well, she sings and her colors are pink (like, fuchsia pink), a purpley-tinged pink, white and purple. This is where I LOVE Adobe Color because I can pull the exact colors from the photo and use them in my design work in Photoshop. (okay, okay, enough about my geekiness…)

Scott was able to take my image that I sent him:

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And with it, he was able to make my matching skins:

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I love them.  And the purple almost matches the color of the pump too. And, since I really don’t like the pink that the Medtronic pumps come in (someone likened it to a naked mole rat once, so now that’s all I see with it!! hahaha!), this gives me a perfect mix of purple AND pink… a pink that I like.

Is this post about diabetes? Not necessarily. But I do believe that things that make us happy and creative around diabetes helps us to do better and be more encouraged to take better control of ourselves. And if a silly pump skin or Dexcom skin helps do that and also gives me a means to display my artwork, then hey, it’s all good. 🙂

So go and get creative. If we have to use these things to help us be healthy, why not get creative with them? No use in being drab all of the time, I say. (Unless that’s your thing… if so, go for it.)

 

If you like this design too and would like to have one like it, feel free to email me and I can let Scott know that you would like to purchase one. I don’t charge for the designs, so it would be the cost of a custom designed skin from PumpPeelz.

3 Weeks

Three weeks ago, I began what I thought would be just a break from my Minimed pump / CGM combo. I was constantly getting frustrated with CGM sensors not lasting the full 6 days (usually only about 4 days) and knowing that my records were going to be all messed up. I have to hand it to Medtronic though, they stuck it out with me the entire time and without hassle replaced boxes of sensors and even my serter. But with all of the trying and trying and trying, I just couldn’t get them to work. So, I wanted to take a break. Being overwhelmed with that and just everything else, I just didn’t feel like I could troubleshoot anymore. Now, I’m not saying their product isn’t good, because I know a LOT of people who use it and have had a lot of success too, but I’ve learned one thing – there is a lot of truth in the fact that not every device “fits” everyone, and no, they don’t all work the same. Thus, my theory that everyone should get to “date” pump systems before locking in needs to be a must. And I don’t mean just over the weekend. I mean like, for a whole month or two.  I just think with all the scar tissue I have and the sensitivity to the tape the Enlite has, it’s just not worth trying to make it work right now. So yes, in essence, it’s me, not them.

When I got frustrated, I switched back to using my Dexcom. Granted, it’s a pain in the butt to keep up with, but for me? The accuracy over the duration of wear time is much better. It wasn’t until everything happened with my eye that I realized just how important it was. I’m not saying it is super accurate, but I’ve been able to depend on it more than the pump CGM, and right now that matters a heck of a lot more than whether it’s integrated or not. Plus, I have no tape rashes or burns from the Dexcom, so that’s a huge plus for me.

IMG_5503Also, at the time, I had a fling. No, not that kind of fling… a pump fling. Knowing how I am about wanting to switch up pumps between the Medtronic and my t:slim, I had actually planned on going through maybe two cartridges in my t:slim pump at the end of March. I don’t know if the battery works the same as most computer batteries, but with those, if you don’t use them, the batteries mess up, so every now and then I wanted to be able to use it so that just the lack of use didn’t mess up the battery. So, when the eye thing happened, I was on the t:slim. I was not having any issue at all with the pump like I had before, so I am not attributing what happened to that, but I am telling you that because when I spoke with my endo, he told me to “keep everything to the same” until I went for my appointment… which will be next week. So, for 3 weeks now, I’ve been using my t:slim pump. Much longer than I expected, but I have to say, I haven’t had the issues with random, uncontrollable highs that I did before. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. My control has improved. I still wonder if the cartridges I had were affected by the recall, but that the lot numbers were too “young” to be considered in it (my lot numbers were in the 300’s, the recalls started in the 800’s). I’m not going to lie, I’m sort of hopeful that maybe that was the case and now the pump will work just fine.

And, as an update to the whole eye thing, I have good days and bad ones. For the most part, if I can keep my blood sugar as steady as possible and without any major swings (like, no arrows on the dex, and no BG’s above 180-200 for a period of time), my vision is pretty well clear. But if I have a period of time were my BG has run high for a while or if I have major swings (like when I went from 220’s to 70’s within an hour and a half), my eye is pretty well good for nothing for a while. It’s amazing me how things work and affect us all. If anything, this has taught me, as I said before, it’s not about what you use to control your diabetes, as long as you’re using it the best you can and doing the best you can.

Anyway, that’s sort of a rundown of what’s been going on. I know it’s probably confusing when I just throw stuff out there at random without any true point or purpose other than to just get stuff out of my head, but that’s sorta what I started blogging for anyway.

First Impressions of the 530G

While I’m not officially using the pump and CGM to it’s full ability, I wanted to shed some light on how things are going so far in the 530G pumping world.

As far as the pump functions go, I really don’t see much difference between the 530G system and the Revel. There are some minor changes throughout the system, but overall, if you’re used to the Revel system, then the pump side of the 530G will be no surprise to you. I’ve been using it since I got it as a pump system, and haven’t had any issues, save for a motor error, which after a long trouble-shooting call with Medtronic, deemed it unsafe to use and I had a replacement by the next morning (and a Saturday morning at that, too!). Transferring information over from the Revel to the 530G was super easy to do, and once I did, I packed up my Revel and sent it in for the credit on the upgrade cost.

IMG_6853The biggest upgrade with the pump is the CGM component along with the Threshold Suspend feature (which I will refer to as TS from here on out). The new sensors have a new device that hides the needle, and it inserts at 90 degrees instead of a 45 degree angle. The sensors are much thinner and honestly, feel no different than an infusion set going in. That was my biggest complaint with the SofSensors was that they hurt like the Dickens (what does that mean, anyway?) and out of the three day wear, I would only get one good day. The new sensors are touted to be much more accurate than the SofSensors anyway, but time will tell. I know there are studies out there that prove they aren’t as accurate as the Dexcom G4, and I have to agree – but only on the basis that getting one to actually last 6 days has been troublesome.

I have used 4 sensors so far, and three of them have failed. One was inserted into my abdomen because, you know, that’s the FDA approved place… but what wearing a 35 pound toddler on my hip/stomach sort of throws that out of the window because, honestly, you have to be sensitive with these sensors. When I pulled it out, it looked like an accordion. IMG_6854The next sensor looked great, but it died after 4 days. The third one died after one day. No amount of calibrating, not calibrating, protecting it, restarting it, nothing, kept that sensor alive. When I called in to see if I could have at least two of them replaced, they went through and troubleshooted (troubleshot?) a few things with me, and basically, the sensor is delicate, and needs to be worn where it won’t get knocked or pressed. And really? Who thought that would be a good idea? People are active and we don’t want to have to worry about babying a sensor device. I could be all sorts of rough and tumble with my Dexcom and didn’t have much issue at all. Finding such an area on my body that won’t be knocked by my son or pressed on when I sleep or sit is hard. But, with this last one, I may have found a good one because I don’t sleep on it and I can be more conscious about my son hitting/sitting on it. It’s on my upper thigh, right were my pocket is. I also learned (from YouTube) how to manually insert a sensor (hence the ability to take the picture of the contraption, less the pedestal in the above paragraph), so I’m not sure if that had anything to do with it or not, but so far, this one has lasted just over 5 days, and with incredible accuracy. My only wish is that they had kept the idea of a slanted angle insertion verses the straight in. I think it causes the sensor to be more vulnerable to kinking and accordion-ing, which makes me nervous.

As far a the new CGM insertion device goes, it was relatively simple to use, but you had to pay close attention to how you used it. My advice here is to just play with it a bit and watch it from the underside so you know what happens when and how you press the green button on the side. A VERY good video on how to use the inserter and insert an Enlite sensor is on YouTube as well. The nurse explains it very nicely and in an easy to understand manner.

I’m honestly not ready to use the TS feature yet. I did try it out and it did seem to work okay, but I quickly turned the feature off. As I haven’t been trained on it (nor the sensors, but inserting and using a sensor is a lot different in my mind than using a function on a device that could cut off my life liquid) and I have a lot of questions about it.

I am excited about this pump/CGM upgrade, even if I don’t use it for what they are calling it to be (Artificial pancreas? nope. But we won’t go there). It’s been nice not to have to carry around my Dexcom with me. Granted, the alarms on the Medtronic pump is irritating to say the least, but I’m glad they are because I won’t ignore them.

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I may come back later after I’ve used it and give a more in-depth view of it, and if things are going successfully, I’ll leave some tips that have helped me.

First Impressions: Contour Next Link USB Meter

Friday at lunch, I came home to a surprise. Minimed shipped out the new Contour Next Link USB meter that they have available. I’ve been waiting for over a month for this little thing. Just so happened that Friday was also site change day, so I put away my Ping and pulled out my Revel so that I could do a run with the full experience.

First thoughts was that this little meter is sleek. It can easily fit into my “meter-case” section of my wallet (VERY important to me… because I LOVE that wallet!) Color screen is cool, and just the fact that the meter is now like the baby of the Contour Link and the CareLink USB device… it’s all-in-one. This same meter that you check your sugar with is used to upload your pump into CareLink. How cool is that? No extra dongle or wires to keep up with.

Setup was easy and just like any other meter – entering in the time, date, etc. No big deal. The screen is bright and, to me, easy to read. Charging it is simple. Just plug it into the charger that it comes with either directly or use the supplied cable to attach it if needed. I ran a few tests against the Verio IQ since I know a lot of people who use that meter, including myself. It tends to read much higher than other meters such at the OneTouch Ultra-family and a few others. And, truth be told, the Link was lower than the Verio, but it seemed to be a consistent amount:

Checking is simple – insert strip, apply blood, and wait. After this, you can tag before or after meal or choose not to have a tag at all. You have the option of including notes that include “Don’t feel right”, “Sick”, “Stress”, and “Activity”. You can even note how long after the your meal this test was.

The pros of this meter (to me) are that the strip goes in on the side. I hate a meter that has a bottom-loading strip. Sure, I could just turn the darn thing around, but still… for some reason, it’s a pain-in-the-butt to me. My hands shake when I try to do little things like lining up my finger to a strip end and it just makes more sense to put the strip on the side or top.

It’s small, compact, and yet still does a lot. It’s, as I said before, a marriage of the meter and upload dongle for the Minimed pump, so less stuff to have to keep up with. The strips for this meter are A LOT less and still fit the newer guidelines for accuracy. These, for 100, average about $75-80!! They’re even less than their prior strips, which were about $110 per 100. (whereas ones for like the Verio and iBG Star are more around the $140-150 range for 100. Trust me… I bought a 50 count bottle of iBG Star ones OUT OF POCKET and the ticket was $72. NOT COOL. I bought a 50 bottle of these and paid only $43.) Why buy them out of pocket? Well, because I like to have more than just 25 strips to test with to “try out” a meter, and I don’t want to go through the hassle of asking my doctor for a prescription for strips for a meter that I’m going to stop using in a week or so anyway. Which this one I may use anyway – Revel or not. I like it. More than the Verio because it’s just hard to get used to the higher numbers of the Verio when this one does read higher, but not as high. It’s sort of middle-ground.

I also like the Glucofacts software that’s on Bayer’s site. I’ve uploaded to it a couple of times and it’s pretty neat. Not perfect, but I like it a lot better than some out there. Oh, and the meter charges while you upload!

And this is where the “cons” I was speaking of in my last post comes in: There is a light around the strip port. But it’s not there to help you see where to put the strip in in the dark. It’s there to show you that the meter is charging. The light flashes as it’s being charged, and stops when it’s done. I think they could have done a better job at making it multi-functional. (ACTUALLY – The port-light can be activated before inserting the strip by double-tapping the power/menu button. Thank you for the comment, Emily!!!) The second “con” is that this meter is only available as a Minimed “Link” meter, not a stand-alone USB like the original Contour USB, and only available through Minimed. This is a great meter (in my opinion) and to be strictly for Minimed sucks because I think a lot of people could benefit from it functionally and cost-effectiveness if they were able to market it to more than just MM pumpers. There is the Contour Next EZ meter, but it’s the bottom-loading disk-shaped one. It is affordable at about $10-ish dollars, but it’s no USB with color screen, and you would have to have a special cable to upload it.

I think I might stick with this meter for a while. I really do like it. I like that I don’t have to use it with the MM pump (I can turn the Link function of it off), and if in a bind and Wal-Mart has an issue getting my strips as they’ve done in the past – I can pay out of pocket for another bottle of these easier than I could for ones for another meter.

 

The One Where I Become My Own Philosopher

Choices.

Preferences.

We all have our own. We’re all different – some more than others – and we have to live our lives with whatever choices or preferences are best for us, not for everyone else.

I’m the sort of person who gets easily wrapped up in the common thing. The popular thing. I’m also one to want the latest and greatest of all technology to feed my inner geekiness.

As with all things, sometimes, it’s best to step back from the OOoooo’s and AAAAHHhhhh’s of whatever it is you’re looking at and just think about the basics and compare needs to options and make the best decision for YOU, not because someone else is doing it.

Think about what is going to work for you for the long-haul. Think about what is going to make your life flow. Every choice will have speed bumps to go with it, but it helps to think about it and make the one the choice that will have the least speed bumps in your own flow of life.

Make reasonable choices off of the facts.

Not all that glitters is gold… and all gold doesn’t glitter at every angle.

I’m not just saying this in reference to insulin pumps or meters or any other diabetes technology, although it is what spurred the thought process for me. But it also applies to anything in life, really.

Okay, I’m done being my own philosopher today.

Have a great Wednesday!

Abby Cadabby Returns

Abby Cadabby returns.

After a week or so on the Animas Ping and the month on the OmniPod, I have decided to go back on my Minimed pump.

Why?

The Omnipod didn’t work because I need a longer cannula length.

The Ping.. well, I used it without the remote after a few days. The remote is nice at times, but it was irritating at times too. By the end of it, I was just bleeeeh about the Ping. It’s okay, and a very stable, good pump. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it.

So why the switch?

Connectivity.

Ease of use when it comes to technology is very important to me, and this system has the easiest (in my opinion).

It came time to upload my pump and meter and the software, for me, is a pain in the buttocks. I still like the fact that everything can be logged into the Revel so that all you have to do is upload it via the USB device and there’s your whole complete logbook.

I’m still not quite concrete about the decision yet. But I do feel better about having weeded out the OmniPod option. Now it just comes down to the Revel and Ping and whether remote bolusing means more than easier upload of data.

Change of Plans

First, let me say that Medtronic has a good insulin pump. The features that it offers – bg-check reminders, missed bolus alerts, an optional CGM component, ability to see almost anything you’d want to see from any menu you have available in regards to basal, bolus, average bg, insulin on board, etc – are great. It’s also a very durable pump as I have knocked, dropped, and sat on the darn thing on not so soft of surfaces and it has held up. I have put it through the ringer, I promise, and it has proved to be a very durable, reliable insulin pump. My only complaints that I can find about it are 1) it’s only water resistant, not waterproof, and 2) there is no remote-bolus option – two things that are very important to me, but can be worked around.

The ease of ordering supplies either by phone or ON my phone via the myMedtronic app has been great. I’ve also had the pleasure of calling the reorder department about an order that I already had received but needed to change the set and they were able to do that. I don’t believe I have encountered any other company that works so extremely well with customers and getting the supplies they need.

Oh, and their customer service line? One word: Awesome. I never ever had an issue with them. I’ve worked with other companies that, when I encountered an issue, the problem would be placed back on what I had done or was made out that their product was perfect as is and it was obviously my problem (drip that with sarcasm). Granted, I have spoken with customer support before about my calibration issues with the CGM portion, and that is still something I cannot figure out why I can’t get right on a consistent enough basis, but they put up with me through it, making as many suggestions as possible, and even following up on my complaint later.

Which leads to my point of this post….

While I believe that Medtronic is a good company who has excellent customer service and a good insulin pump product, I personally do not choose to use the pump as a pump+CGM combo any longer. The issues of the CGM that I was beginning to have led to more frustration than I wanted to have.

Since the end of June, I started becoming more and more dissatisfied with the CGM and the requirements of calibrations for it. I tried everything and made a full honest effort to stick to the rules, but it just wasn’t working out for me. Granted, I absolutely LOVED that it is integrated into the pump. That part is absofreakinlutely the most awesome thing ever to have both a pump and CGM in one and not have to worry about an extra device to keep up with. Accuracy wasn’t too bad at all either as long as you calibrated as required. Most of the time, I’d say, probably about 80-90% of the time, it was almost spot-on or within the allowed 20% deviation range. The only time I had issues were when I either hit a bad bleeder, the sensor wasn’t all the way in, or if the area chosen was just not a good placement. I had a pretty good system of being able to insert it manually and cover it with tape in a way that prevented most of those problems, but sometimes it still happened.

After speaking with Erik over the past few weeks and with my endocrinologist, we have made the decision to switch back to the Dexcom. This was not an easy decision to make as I hemed and hawed, thought and thought, even made a spreadsheet to help me reasonably make a choice that would be the best for me and what I needed. The only reasons are that it seems to work better at following my low or high swings, the pain of insertion is not nearly as bad, and the sensor lasts 7 days. Granted, it’s a pain in the butt having an extra device to carry around as I’ve already left it at home a couple of times on lunch break, but I don’t mind it being separate over all. I also don’t like that I have to avoid Tylenol again, which was one of the biggest factors of the Minimed CGM that I loved other than integration– no Tylenol restriction!

This has not been an easy post to write. As a matter of fact, it has been in my draft que for days and gone through several revisions because even though I made the switch over to Dexcom, that does not mean that I believe any less in Medtronic’s products. I contemplated not saying anything at all, but I also know that as a blogger, I believe in honesty and disclosure to my readers. Things that I have blogged about in the past in reference to how I may or may not have liked the Revel system as a whole still are true, but reflect my feelings as of the date of the posting. Things change. People change. Our needs change. And the change from the Minimed CGM to the Dexcom is just one of those changes for me.

I haven’t totally given up on the Minimed CGM though. I still have supplies for it and if I want to hook it back up, I can. But I feel that right now, I have to do what’s best for me and my diabetes treatment and, most of all, my sanity. And who knows? Next year, hopefully when the Enlite sensor is out, I can try it out and I may switch back. Just depends on how it compares and how it works for me.

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The past year, as mentioned in my Disclosure, I have been a blogger for Medtronic on their site, The Loop Blog. Working with Karrie, Amanda and the Medtronic team has been enjoyable as well as a learning experience. I am so grateful to have had that opportunity. The contract has ended, but I hope that the friendship can still remain. A few posts that have been submitted for review may appear later on their site (which is up to their discretion), and do reflect my view of the topic honestly at the time of the writing.

dTech Stress.

I’m probably taking a risk here, but I need to vent.

I’m irritated.

I think my body hates me. My bg’s are all over the place – mainly due to stress and eating wildly (I tend to eat when I’m stressed, and lately I’ve been VERY stressed), I’m sure.

But most of all, my sites are being a royal pain – in – my –  tushie. I’ve tried the different sets. The only one that works consistently is the Sure-T needle ones. I hate that I can’t use the cool colorful ones anymore because my body somehow manages to kink them within a day.

My CGM sites? HA! I’m so mad right now I could scream. I follow my calibration times and rules. Yet, some last 3 days, one even lasted me 8 days recently, and others only last a day. TOTALLY irritating when you lose a whole entire day of inaccurate data that will be factored into your average that the doctor sees. I thought there was a correlation between where the sensor was placed and the accuracy… nope. Maybe between consistent calibration times? Better, but not really. Outside effects on the sensor? I can cover it and not let a wick of outside moisture hit the darn thing and it can still mess up, so no, that can’t be considered in it either. Not to mention they HURT like the dickens now too. I swear I’ve become more sensitive to them all of a sudden. What’s most aggrivating is that it seems that I have to follow just as much of a schedule to calibrate as when I was on shots for taking them. And isn’t that a major part of pumping? To be able to have lax schedules that fit your life?

Maybe I’m just going through a mental PMS and I need to just suck it up.

Of course, it’s probably because my bg is high right now too and it’s one of those that make me mad at anything.

But it’s good to vent, right?

I think it’s time for me to sit down and write out all of pros and cons to my current diabetes management system. Maybe I just need a break from d-technology for a while. I just don’t like the idea of it for fear that I will give up completely. Advice?

Slow-Poking

Arm sites for my sensors have been awesome. My readings are great, and I’ve been able to use my sensors for a full 6 days, as opposed to only 3 as before. I’m not sure what it is about that area, but apparently it’s the best one yet. Maybe because I rarely use it for insulin sites, so there’s not that much scar tissue?

Anyway, I’ve been doing my sensor insertions there manually (GASP!). Why? Because I can’t get the darn Sen-serter off. After a conversation with Scott from Rollin In The D (@Scott_InTheD) and Shannon (@ShanMarengo), I made a video showing how I do them:

The next thing that Scott brought up was the straightness of the sensor. It would seem that manual insertion might would cause it to bunch up or kink possibly or something, so I took a picture of the used sensor after I removed it:

Used Manually-inserted Sensor

Not bad.

So I don’t know if it’s because I manually inserted it or if my arms are the holy-grail for my sensor sites or a combo of both or none of the above and I just have had 2 great sensors, but either way, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so ain’t fixin’ it. 😉 (Had to throw a little southern charm in there, ya know.)

Lenny – FridayFind 5

One thing (person?) we were all introduced to when I attended the Diabetes Advocates Forum at Medtronic last month was Lenny.

Lenny the Lion, that is.

We all know Lenny from his Carb-counting game app for iPhone, iPad and Android, but now he comes to life for children (of ALL ages) everywhere!

Medtronic worked with Build-A-Bear to make these special bears to help give courage to kids when learning how to use an insulin pump and insert sites. Every child, 12 and under, who go onto the pump for the first time receives their very own Lenny from their trainer. He has special little spots on him – tummy, thighs, upper arms, and butt, for learning specific places that they can insert pump sites into. He even has one on his paw for testing blood sugar! The spots are made of a denser foamy material that make it feel like a real insertion, not just hold on to the site once it’s in. The idea behind Lenny is to help kids learn to have courage, and to not let diabetes hold them back.

Lenny came with his own material too:

 

{How to register YOUR Lenny to receive a birth certificate so you your child can go play with him in Bearville!}

{Tips on Site Rotation and how often to change them}

{A few more quick tips}

{I put some of BabyK’s 3-6 month clothes on him. Poor thing was “nakey”. 😉 }

And, from Medtronic themselves, here’s a fact sheet on Lenny:

{Click to see the full version - Used with permission}

One question that came up a lot on Facebook after a few of us posted the pictures was, “HEY! I want a Lenny! Where can I get one?” Well, my friends, he is available in the Medtronic Store, as well as a mini-version of himself that can hold an insulin pump inside (or Guardian CGM). I think this is great because there are those of us who are *slightly* over 12 (not pointing fingers at myself at ALL) who would want one but didn’t get one in pump training.

The only thing I wish he had (and actually it was mentioned to Medtronic during the forum) is his very own pump of somesort… and a CGM if the child is going to go on both. Some even mentioned Lenny having a sibling. I think Lenny needs to have a Lioness best friend – Lynn? Leona? Lenora? – who is diabetic too.. for the girls. Cause, come on… you know you would want to put a cute frilly outfit on her! (Possibly be a good way to show them how to “hide” their pumps? No?) This was actually brought up as a question in the forum – “would there be a girl version?”, and the answer was no. But I’m thinking that maybe, as with most companies, if the demand is high enough, they might consider it… so, would you like to have the choice of getting a Lenny or a Lenora? Let me know and I’ll pass it along!

Now, I’m off to shop for more clothes from Build-A-Bear for him, then snuggle and play with the app for a bit!

Suga-Rating for this FridayFind?

♥♥♥♥

4 out of 5

Disclaimer! I did receive Lenny at no charge to me from Minimed. They did not ask me to blog about him, nor feature him in a Friday Find post. The kit that was sent to me had everything as shown above, and did not include 6 infusion sets as mentioned in the online product feature (I’m assuming this is because I’m already a pumper and the 6 would be for the child to practice with during training).