I’ve been asked to write an updated review on my Tandem Diabetes t:slim insulin pump to help someone decide what pump they want to get their daughter.
So I’ve had the pump almost 6 months! So here’s my opinion 6 months in, with reference to my initial thoughts. Updates are in red.
Things I Love (6 months in)
I love this insulin pump because it fits ME. It’s touchscreen, rechargeable, and so 21st century. It fits in with my lifestyle of working and breathing in the technology world. I still agree with all of this, but I’ll say the “wow” factor has worn off significantly. It comes down to the fact that it’s still a machine that helps me live.
Love, love, LOVE the rechargeable battery. I even charged the pump on my way to work this morning! It works out perfectly because I have a 20 minute ride to work and it is recommended to “top-off” the battery daily. Depending on how I notice the battery life diminishing, I will determine how often I need to charge. I started it with a 100% full charge on Saturday morning and this morning it was at 85%. Not bad for something working 24/7! It takes one minute to charge one percent. When I got to work after charging it in my car, it was at 95% battery. (I didn’t plug it in until about half way to work). It’s still at 95% 4.5 hours later. If the battery stays this way for four years, I’ll be happy!
Battery is still great. I don’t even have to think about really charging it because when I do charge it, it’s enough until the next time I think about it. If that makes any sense. I’ve had it go down to about 20%. I was going to try to remember to charge it every morning when I’m in the shower, but that hasn’t happened. I’m not worried at all about the battery because I sit at a desk all day and could charge it at any point really. This summer though, when I go camping for 4 days without electricity, I will probably buy a solar portable charger.
The user profiles allow the user to set their basal rate, correction factor, carb ratio, and target bg at different times. On my Medtronic insulin pump, these were in different areas and only basal rates could have multiple “profiles”. For instance, I can now have a target BG of 120 throughout the day, but at night have a higher target if I don’t want to fall low before bed. Having these all on the same screen and time dependent is awesome and I’m hoping it will help me utilize the features more. I already set up a different User Profile for weekends because I’ve been waking up low (since I sleep in). This is something I could have done on my Medtronic, since it’s only a basal rate change; however, it seemed much easier to do on the t:slim. Plus I was able to duplicate my everyday user profile, so I didn’t have to add in all the times and data twice. Setting this up was tedious, but only because I had to search all the screens on the Medtronic pump for the data.
LOVE LOVE LOVE the user profiles. I use these so much more than I did on the Medtronic. If I find I am running lower lately, I can quick copy (!!) a user profile, adjust the settings, and away I go! Then I still have my old basals and settings and I can easily go back! This would probably be one of the biggest things I’d miss if going back to Medtronic. I also use this for the weekends so I can sleep in without waking up low. LOVE!
THIS IS AWESOME! Why? Because I guess my carbs. I round to make the math easy, not because I can’t do math, but because I’m too lazy to spend the extra time adding, especially when my meal is sitting in front of me. But now, I can add with the included calculator! Love this feature!
So while I still love the idea of this feature, I barely ever use it. I am still in the habit of guessing my carbs (old habits die hard right?), so I am hoping I’ll utilize this more.
Haven’t used this much yet. I have one set for tomorrow, but otherwise I haven’t played with them much. I do know I will love this feature though. You can set alerts to change your pump site, test your bg after eating and more. Since I haven’t used them, I don’t remember what they all are. I did set the change pump site and I did this because the insulin pump holds 300 units of insulin, much more than my Medtronic pump did. With my Medtronic pump, I would just change the insulin and infusion set once the insulin ran out (3-4 days depending); however, that will take much longer now. I did find out that even though the cartridge holds more insulin, it’s still recommended to change the cartridge every three days. Kinda sticks, I was hoping to get longer time out of them (less supplies, less to worry about), but the pump trainer said if I just fill the cartridge to my approximate usage for three days, I won’t waste insulin.
The only alert I have is set to tell me that it has been 3 hours since I last ate. This is so I can quick check my Dexcom and if I’m high, I’ll test and correct. So it’s useful, but I don’t use any of the other alerts.
The main thing I love about the cartridge is how I put the insulin in. Included with the cartridge supplies are syringes that you fill with insulin from a vial, then insert the syringe into the cartridge to fill. Why I love this? It’s easier to use every drop of insulin from a vial. With Medtronic, the reservoir had an attachment that went onto a vial, then you pulled down the plunger to fill it with insulin. If there was only a small amount of insulin left in the vial, you’d have to take this off and put it onto a new vial. From my experience, this always caused more air bubbles and always was cumbersome. Plus, the plunger at the button of the reservoir could easily move or come out which seemed to cause air bubbles. With the t:slim, you just need to take a syringe out of the vial, stick it in the new vial and continue pulling in insulin. Kinda hard to explain, but for me, it works much better and I feel as though I’m not wasting precious insulin.
Cartridge is fine for me. I haven’t had any problems. I know a lot of people have complained or expressed frustrations with the time it takes to change a site. Well I’ll say this: I “cheat”. I reuse the tubing so I don’t have to fill it every time. I probably change the tubing whenever I change insulin vials. I will also say when I do change everything, including full tubing, I don’t notice the time because while it’s filling, I change my site. I also clean up all the garbage that is generated from changing sets. So the timing for me isn’t anything I’m concerned about.
Such a simple feature in my book. I used this everyday on my Medtronic pump to remind me to take my medications. I figured I could use it also to remind me to switch my User Profile once the weekend is over. There is no alarm clock though and I’ve confirmed this with the pump trainer this morning (thought maybe it was hidden or something).
I still miss this. It stinks that something so simple isn’t included in the pump.
By this I mean, when you’re blood sugar is below target and you’re bolusing for a meal, the insulin pump would subtract insulin to correct you back up to the target blood sugar. I haven’t decided if I miss this feature or not. I also have not entered an actual low blood sugar, meaning I don’t know if there’s a certain point that this feature does work. My thinking is this: if I’m low, I will treat with fact-acting carbohydrates. If I happen to bolus as well, it’s most likely after I’ve eaten those carbs and I wouldn’t need the less insulin. So in that sense it’s fine and I won’t miss it. However, if I’m border-line at 85 and my target is 120, the Medtronic pump would subtract insulin from my bolus to get me back up to 120. This will be different and something I need to decide if I will miss. I CAN always override the amount of insulin given; however, to me this is cumbersome.
Although I miss the idea of this, I haven’t had any problems with it not being there. Sometimes, depending on my Dexcom reading and what I’m eating, I will override the amount of insulin given, but this hasn’t been a major issue.
Very minor, but the tubing comes out of the opposite side of the pump then with the Medtronic. So I keep looking at the pump upside-down because this is what I’m used it. I will obviously get used to this change, but it was a little weird at first. On this note too, I like that the connection is moved up the tubing and not right on the pump. It’s more out of the way, which I like.
I finally learned to look at the pump the correct way! The connection for the tubing can be a little bothersome when I keep the pump in my jeans pocket, but it hasn’t been anything major.
Hate Very Much Dislike
It’s HUGE. Very much dislike. I did figure out this morning that the clip comes off and you have a case. I do like that. The pump can be “slippery” and has already managed to slip through my hands (hasn’t fallen on the floor – yet). The pump case has a rubbery texture that’s nice, but the clip…. the clip just is a big fat NO for me. I use the clip when wearing my sweatpants (aka PJs), so it’ll stay in my pocket or when I’m sleeping, I clip it to my waistband at my lower back. (I sleep on my stomach). But this clip gets caught on everything and it’s very easy to unclip, making me feel it’s not going to stay put. I’ve heard there’s a different clip and I’m going to look into this.
This was fixed when Tandem sent out the new case. I love the new case, in comparison to the old one, but I still wish they had something similar to the sport clip that came with my Medtronic. The new case holds a lot better and is a lot lot lot slimmer which is awesome. The reason I still wish they had a sport clip is because I have to disconnect anytime I want to put the clip on since the tubing has to feed through. Sometimes I just keep the bottom of the clip on when I’m lazy. This is more of just an inconvenience then anything.
I understand that the software is going through FDA approval, but I still dislike that I have no way to get my data off the pump. Luckily I will have data from my CGM (Hello Dexcom G4, it was delivered today!! More on that in a future post. Update: It was not delivered. Communication error. Will receive soon though and will post about it soon.) and I can grab data from my meter. I will have to record carbs and insulin amounts for two weeks prior to my appointment. The pump trainer also stated that she thought the software would go through by the end of the year. If that’s the case, I can wait. But data is a HUGE thing when it comes to diabetes management. I want my data!!
The software is now available. I think for about 2 or 3 weeks now. I tried it once, but I had a connection error, so I figured it was because so many people were on the server uploading their data. I haven’t tried it again, but I don’t have my doctor appointment until the end of the month and I’ve been busy (5 weeks until I get married!) so I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and play with it. I’ve heard it’s nice though.
Someone else mentioned this in a review as well, but when given a outlet charger and a car charger for the pump, I would have been appreciative of having two cords. For now, the cord remains in my purse (why not? I have a million other diabetes management supplies anyway). May need to request this or just order another.
While two cords would have been nice, it hasn’t been an issue because I have my phone and Dexcom that require the same cord. So I have more cords than I can possibly count.
So that’s my initial thoughts. I plan to post details about the cartridge changing and about my experience actually getting the pump. I will also post in a few weeks about how I like the pump and answer any questions anyone may have. So if you’re considering the t:slim or if you’re just curious about the new technology, please ask away! I’m more than happy to detail any information and provide my opinions.
Those are my updates! As I stated initially, the “wow” and “newness” factor has worn off and the device has become just what it is: a medical device. Overall, I’m happy with the device and I have no problem with keeping it for the next 3.5 years. As always, feel free to ask questions. This post is directly a result of someone asking me to write it, so I’m more than happy to answer and help!