Tandem t:slim adventures

Way back in February, when the days were short and the nights long, Pumplette, her sisters and I travelled to Vienna, so that I could attend the ATTD conference.

The girls had a great time, exploring Vienna and eating their own body weight in waffles. However, by far the biggest highlight for Pumplette was the opportunity to meet the man from Tandem. Very early one morning, Pumplette learnt the merit of early starts and breakfast meetings, as we headed across the city to meet up with her very good Grumpy friend for their first T:slim encounter.

Grumpy & Pumplette & their first Tandem t:slim x2 encounter

Now, a bit of background. Pumplette has used three different models of insulin pump over the past 14 years of pumping. She has no memory whatsoever of her first pump, a somewhat cumbersome apparatus known as the Dtron plus. Measuring around the length of her baby thigh, I remain forever grateful for this piece of kit and the difference it delivered to our family and to Pumplette’s health and wellbeing. Her second and third pump models were both from the Animas stable. Initially using the Animas 2020, before graduating onto the Animas Vibe with CGM compatibility, this has been the make of pump that is very much part and parcel of Pumplette’s psyche. Simply put, her pump has always been there, always reliable, and only changing colour when she decided she had outgrown the pink of her preschool years, opting for the sophisticated green that seemed to be the colour compatible for the discerning tween. Reliable, discreet & comfortable, her pump really is an extension of her self and I have always been immensely grateful that she has loved her kit in the way she has over the years.

Given just how, literally and metaphorically, attached Pumplette is to her insulin pump, you may understand a little just why she had been so distraught when she learnt that the makers of her beloved pump were exiting the insulin pump market last year. The news was difficult and very sad and I resolved to do all I could to ensure that Pumplette would have a choice of insulin pump when her time came to change devices.

Which is how we came to be up, (did I mention exceedingly early?!), on that cold February morning in Vienna to meet Aymeric from Tandem. Over breakfast, Pumplette and Grumpy were handed insulin pumps to “play” with, orientating themselves with the device so that they could ask more questions around the kit. Now, Tandem has been operational in the US for a good few years now and everything about the user experience we had read and heard was overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, Pumplette had been casting admiring glances and asking lots of questions about the T:slim when we were in New York in 2016, having dinner with the fabulous Kerri Sparling . It really has been the only insulin pump to turn her head whilst wearing her current pump, and I knew we had to explore the possibility of it coming to the UK.

The thing about the T:slim is, right from the off, you can tell that throughout the development of this pump, people living with diabetes, and people caring for someone living with diabetes, have had their hands all over this and their input listened to and acted upon. To the lay reader reading this, you may be forgiven for assuming that is not remarkable. To the people who use medical devices every day, you will know full well just how exceptional it is. A recent statistic that came from a launch event in Australia shed light on just how much consultation had been undertaken. In excess of 6,000 people living with or around diabetes were consulted, actions taken, changes evaluated. It is no accident that this pump lands so very well with people living with diabetes. It has had their paw prints on it throughout the development and it really shows.

In the interest of balance, I was trying to find something a little less than positive about this pump, but in all honesty, I can’t. Except for the fact that it isn’t yet available in the UK.

However, that is about to change.

After that initial meeting, and the enthusiasm both Pumplette and Grumpy had for the T:slim, we have stayed in touch with our man from Tandem. He has been incredibly patient with us as we constantly emailed to enquire about the timeline for launch in the UK. Had they found a distributor? Were they ready to announce dates soon? All of these endless enquiries were politely answered and addressed.

The fantastic team from Air Liquide are building…..

Then, in August, came an unexpected invitation, beyond our wildest dreams. This time, we travelled to Birmingham, to meet the wonderful people from Air Liquide, and to see our old friend from Tandem. Air Liquide will be the UK distributor for Tandem T:slim insulin pumps, and I cannot imagine a better partnership. The team being assembled in Air Liquide is exceptional – these people understand diabetes and the importance of the kit they provide in a person’s life with diabetes. They get it. And the training is fantastic too. Pumplette and Grumpy had a very intensive & enjoyable afternoon being availed of all the new functions this pump has to offer. Their training was thorough and comprehensive. And they left, feeling very confident in their ability to use this fantastic piece of kit, that Pumplette cannot wait to take on many adventures.

Grumpy & Pumplette, trained & primed & ready to go wild!

If you’d like to receive updates on Tandem t:slim pump timelines from Air Liquide, please register your interest here: diabetes.info@airliquide.com

Disclaimer: I have not received any payment to write this blog & neither was there an expectation on me to do so. Grumpy & Pumplette have a pump loan agreement with Tandem Diabetes. There is no other sponsorship involved. We received lunch from Air Liquide when completing pump training last week.

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