Since starting on her Tandem t:slim X2, Pumplette has lived a very eventful life, taking entrance examinations for a new school the day after her switch, changing schools, adjusting to a new & very busy schedule, which sees longer days at school and lots more work to do too, and finding time to keep up with the important business of being a busy teen. Any of these elements can prove to be a little more challenging when T1D is thrown into the mix, even more so if the equipment you use to manage this changes and adds yet another “unknown” into the pot.
Which is why the change to t:slim has been even more fantastic than anticipated. Before the change, I was mindful to attempt to temper Pumplette’s enthusiasm for her new pump, worried that with such high expecatations, anything less than utterly awesome would be a come down and colour how she viewed this fab piece of kit that will be her constant 24/7 companion.
New pump, new school, new horizons (same old big sister!)
And that is the key thing to remember. I am evangelical about pump therapy having seen the difference it made to a very tiny Pumplette’s life, whilst always being aware that pump life is not a universal panacea. Wearing a device, 24/7, brings with it a unique set of challenges and emotions. For Pumplette, her pump is very much part of her anatomy. She cannot remember a time when she didn’t use a pump. And she is so happy to use this technology too, embracing advancements and rejoicing in the flexibility pump life affords her. This comfort and confidence, however, comes from being utterly content with the devices she wears. Which was why switching from her beloved Animas was only a prospect she looked forward to when the device on offer was one she was sure she would be confident to use. The new relationship she was about to forge had to be preceeded by desire, otherwise the switch would be uneasy, the match of girl and pump not quite gelling in a way that would lead to wanting to utilise the fuctionality available.
With all this in mind, what and why has the move to t:slim been so positive?
Firstly, the pump itself. The physical look and size of the pump is small, sleek and modern looking. This matters. Pumplette loves the size, the weight, the look and how it feels. Secondly, the touch screen. Gone are the endless button pushes and scrolling into & then navigating out of, different menus. Get interupted in the middle of changing a setting or adjusting a basal rate with the temporary profile? No problem. The pump will remember where you are in the process, prompting you as soon as you resume your pump interactions. For us, as shambolic natured people, this has saved our butts on more than one occasion!
The consumables used with the pump are different and familiar. The cannulas are identical to the insulet cannulas Pumplette used for her Animas Vibe, apart from the connector. The connection is a t:lock system and this creates a sleaker profile for the cartridge/cannula joint. The cartridge itself is more akin to a slim cassette. Filling it takes a little more time initially, more care than we had before, but this is true with any new system. Familiarity breads confidence (& contempt), so the fact we are more mindful of the process of filling the cartridges now is actually no bad thing. Pumplette has also switched insulin on this pump. She was using Apidra, a move we decided on a few years ago as it proved excellent in reducing post prandial spikes for her. However, Apidra hasn’t been validated for use with the t:slim and if you use it, you will need to replace your consumables more frequently. The two that have been validated for use in the t:slim are NovoRapid and Humalog. Pumplette started her T1 journey using Humalog, and so it was with confidence we returned to it. Whenever one is changing either pump, or insulin, one has to be aware that not all delivery systems are equivilent. Each will have unique idiosyncricies. Changing multiple variables symultaneously throws more challenges into the mix, but we quickly became reaccustomed to how Pumplette’s internal operations utilised Humalog, which in turn allowed us to nuance the basal profiles with this pump.
The other big change that people often ask about the t:slim is the rechargable element. I shan’t lie. This takes a little organisation, and, as is often documented in this blog, I am monumentally shambolic. The Understudy team has now found various solutions to the “Ah, I may have forgotten to charge my pump” scenario. Firstly, every handbag and bag Pumplette and I own is furnished with a usb charging cable (thank you Tiger stores for jolly, cheap charging solutions!), which essentially means, wherever we happen to be when the flat pump cry is heard, there is the ability to charge the thing. Whether she plugs into the laptop, sticks it in the car charger, or plugs herself into her classroom, we’ve yet to discover a situation where she cannot charge. We also have a selection of battery chargers too, which means even climbing walls and shopping trips remain uninterrupted activities.
Navigating the menus in the pump is incrediably straightforward. If you want to see, download the t:simulator app onto your android or apple device and you’ll be able to experinece it for yourself. And speaking of downloads, I have yet to touch on the joy of uploading the pump data to Diasend / Glooko. For anyone familiar with the infra red, Animas data upload shinanegins, you will recoil in horror at the prospect, not to mention time, it took to transfer all the pump data. Well, hello friends. This pump gets plugged into the laptop. Even those slackers (I think only us) who are tardy at transferring data and do so in huge three month dumps, find that once plugged in, the loading bar starts to fill. Immediately. And the whole transfer is complete in under 30 seconds. This process is even faster if you are a diligent fellow who likes to look at lots of data on a week to week basis.
The joy using this insulin pump has given Pumplette is a privilige not lost on us. We have many people to thank for their support and pursuit to make this change happen. One in particular knows who he is. And we are also indebted to Tandem for loaning Pumplette the pump until the summer.
Pumplette’s most treasured piece of kit
Final words about how it feels to use and wear the t:slim has to go to the star of the show.
“It’s awesome and I love it!”.
Disclaimer: Pumplette has been loaned the Tandem t:slim x2 insulin pump by Tandem. There was no expectation upon myself or her to write about this experience. We received a lunch from Air Liquide (the U.K. distributor for Tandem) when training and starting on the pump.