Opening Note: If the title of this post seems like a shameless grab for attention, that’s because it is. I’m really interested in some opinions/feedback from other pumpers on this post. However, being largely absent from the blogosphere since having Baby B (I’m spending lots of time with the kids instead of at the keyboard, and also dealing with some wicked carpal tunnel) makes me feel the need to put a little extra effort into getting this post noticed. So if you’re here just to read about boobs, you’ll likely be disappointed. If you’re here as a pumper – please read on and leave a comment!
Back in April, I had a baby. You may already know this. You may also already know that I had a c-section. Normally I wear my pump (a Medtronic Paradigm) clipped to the waist of my pants/shorts/skirt/pyjamas, but after my c-section I found it a bit uncomfortable to wear it near my belly while sleeping, so I decided to keep it between my boobs at night.
It’s probably also no surprise to anyone that boobs tend to expand significantly when you’re breastfeeding a baby. So that pump was in there nice and snug. What may be news to some, though, is that hormones take a while to settle down after having a baby, and these wacky hormones can cause night sweats. I don’t mean seems-a bit-warm-in-here sweating. No, I mean doing-cardio-outside-in-summer sweating.
Does anyone see yet where this story is headed?
It is important to note that Medtronic pumps are not advertised as being waterproof. I was quite well versed in the dangers of exposing a Medtronic Pump to water after I accidentally took my pump swimming with me last year. But I’ve always sort of assumed that they would be somewhat water resistant. And definitely sweat resistant. I mean, athletes wear them, right?
I realized my error when, a few weeks after Baby B was born, I woke up drenched in post-partum, hormone-induced sweat, tested to find my bloodsugar was high, and hauled my pump out from between “The Girls” to bolus. To be clear, my pump had not been immersed in liquid. It was not sitting in a pool of sweat. It was damp and it was hot, but it wasn’t dripping. It had not been swimming this time.
So it was a bit surprising to me when the buttons didn’t work as they should. It took a couple of tries to get a button-push to register. It was even more surprising when I saw “Button Error” come up on the screen. (An error I’m sadly familiar with – I’ll get to that in a bit.)
The rest of the story involves me borrowing a pump from a local contact who had a spare while I attempted to dry out my pump in a bowl of uncooked rice (didn’t work), waiting until Monday to call Minimed (because it was the weekend and we Canadians get bumped to Medtronic’s U.S. call centre on the weekends), and realizing I was going to need to purchase a new pump since mine was off warranty as of last fall. Once I did get on the phone with the Canadian Minimed folks, I was told that I could use a loaner pump from them for 3 months while I made my purchase decision, so that was couriered out to me quickly and I’ve been using it ever since. (To Minimed’s credit, when they found out that I had just recently had a baby, they were willing to extend the decision-making time for me.)
So now I’m trying to finalize this ReallyBig purchase decision. It’s ReallyTough because (a) my pump is such a huge part of my life and I absolutely have to be happy with its quality, its features, and the service I get for it; and (b) I have no coverage for the pump, so this money is coming out of my pocket. Yuck.
In all honesty, I’m quite happy with the features of the Medtronic pumps. The one available to me in Canada is the Paradigm VEO, and I quite like the looks of it. I’m sure it would suit my life quite well, with the exception of the waterproof issue. (You can check out the VEO here.) I’m also very happy with the service I’ve received from Minimed. I’ve had a few frustrating conversations with them when ordering CGM sensors (one time a box of four came with only two sensors in it), but they were excellent when replacing my warrantied pump when it joined me in the pool, and the local rep is absolutely fantastic! So for features and service, I really can’t complain.
Unfortunately, what I can complain about is quality. Here’s why:
#1 – June 2010: My pump had ghoulies. It developed a Button Error, brought on by seemingly nothing, and started counting up units without being asked to.
#2 – August 2011: I proved that my pump is definitely not waterproof. Another Button Error. This one was totally my fault. But I can’t help be somewhat disappointed that Animas can make a waterproof pump but Medtronic can’t. Maybe this is more about features than quality…
#3 – April 2012: I drowned my pump between my boobs.
#4 – April 2012: A borrowed pump given to me by one of my pump contacts had an “A33” error and won’t even start for me. I don’t know what that means beyond the fact that I couldn’t make it work. To be fair, this was a used pump, and not a certified refurbished one directly from Minimed. But it didn’t make me feel any better about Medtronic quality.
#5 – April 2012: The first loaner pump sent to me by Minimed (which was a certified refurbished one) had a loose rubber sealing ring in the reservoir compartment, which fell out as soon as I tried to insert a reservoir. It was obviously loose when I received the pump. How it slipped by Quality Control at Minimed is a mystery to me. Thankfully the second loaner pump they sent me has been working just fine.
Since this most recent experience, I’ve heard from a lot of other folks who have had problems with their Medtronic pumps as well. If you go to the above link to my post about pump ghoulies, you’ll see that two reader comments are about similar problems – and one even mentions the between-the-boobs location as being a possible cause! I’m hearing from more and more people who have had to have their pumps replaced on warranty like I did. As long as the pump is still on warranty and the replacement time is quick, it’s not really a big deal, I guess – usually just 24 hours or less on MDI (although I’d never go anywhere remote without a loaner!) The problem comes when that warranty runs out. And that’s where I’m at now.
I’ve debated switching to Animas. With two young kids, and a bad case of “Mommy brain”, I’d love to have a waterproof pump that I can swim with and that I don’t have to remember to take off every time I go in the pool…or run through the sprinkler…or walk in the rain….or sweat :S
The problem is, I don’t want to give up my CGMS, and Dexcom isn’t available in Canada. If I want the CGMS, I have to go Minimed.
Granted, my CGMS and I have had a rocky relationship, but I’ve finally gotten the kinks worked out and am kind of liking it! Plus, my local rep tells me that there are new sensors coming soon that are supposed to be much more accurate and much more comfortable. While I’m breastfeeding and tired, my BGs are wackier and I’m less likely to pick up sudden lows on my own, so I feel so much more secure with a sensor – especially at night. The long and short of it is that my levels are better when I wear a sensor, and with 30 years of diabetes coupled with proliferative retinopathy I feel like this should trump any desire I have to swim while tethered.
But it’s a $7000 decision that significantly affects my day-to-day life. How can I feel comfortable putting this kind of money toward a product with this kind of track record?
I don’t have the answer…