Animas, We are Heartbroken

Animas insulin pumpers heartbrokenJohnson and Johnson announced on September 5th of 2017  that they were closing the doors on their insulin pump division in Canada and the US.  Animas Insulin Pumps would be no more. Animas insulin pumpers in North America were heartbroken.

While some saw it coming in the corporate rumour mill, others were blindsided.

Animas had done something that many companies in many industries are striving to do…they had  created a feeling that you were family.  Whether you were an Animas insulin pumper or you used another brand, you had probably attended an Animas event and were treated royally.

The employees with Animas all seemed to genuinely care about you.  They checked in on you and took the time to know your family.  I had the pleasure to work closely with many members of the Animas family over the years.  They will be huge assets for the next company that employs them. I am sure that many of them are just as saddened as we are.

This is not the first time that an insulin pump company has closed its doors.  We have been here before…twice.

Cozmo (personally a pump like no other) closed its doors in 2009.  We still have two in my son’s closet.  I have friends who still wear this as their pump of choice.  It is doable even 8 years later.

Most recently, Asante, a pump revered by many who tried it,  was also forced to step away from the insulin pump market.  Their users were devastated.  They were heartbroken and felt lost–just like Animas insulin pumpers are feeling today.

How did they go forward?

One step at a time.  The great thing about insulin pumps is that, while some have quirks, many are pretty sturdy and last.  If you have more than one pump in your house–usually because one was out of warranty and you  purchased a new one right away “just in case”, relax.  If for some reason, you current pump stops functioning, go back on your old one while you decide which pump to try next! Just make sure to write down those settings and keep them in a safe place.

What do I do now?

You don’t have  to stockpile supplies   You don’t have to run out and buy a new insulin pump tomorrow.  The Animas press release stated that warranties will continue to be honoured until September 2019. Cartridges will be be available until that date as well.

Statements from both Animas and Medtronic note that supplies will still be able to be ordered in the same way as before. Nothing changes, except when your Animas pump stops working, you will not be able to purchase a new one.

Thank you…

So while we take a breath and rethink our next steps…our next pump…our next option, I want to take a moment and say thank you.  Thank you to the men and women who worked so hard to make Animas a different company.  I truly appreciated getting to know so many of you.  You brought us a new experience in caring.  I hope that we meet again soon, with a new company perhaps bringing new options in diabetes care.

Options are the most important thing.  Make sure to always know your options and always choose the option that works best for you and your lifestyle.


The Changing of the Pump

We finally did it…and it hurt. After 10 years of using a Cozmo insulin pump, and almost a year of no warranty, my son got a new insulin pump.
I was warned years ago that when we changed from Cozmo, we were best to simply forget that we ever owned a Cozmo. I was told to go forward as if this new pump was the very first one you had ever used. That was the only way to avoid the grief and pain that came with change. Boy were they right!
The change itself was beyond painless. I knew the pump that my son was okay with (if he had to retire his Cozmo).  The only issue was the color.  I contacted my Animas rep and in literally a matter of days, she had the pump ordered and was in our kitchen to do all of the training. Karyn is beyond amazing!
As we went through the features of his Ping versus the features we had on our Cozmo, Karyn was just as sad as we were to be switching pumps. She told us that she wanted some of those features on her pump! Kindly, another Animas employee asked that I send her a list of some of the features we were missing in hopes of one day being able to secure them for use in an Animas pump.  Did I mention that this company really has great people working for them?
The Ping doesn’t automatically switch basals from weekday to weekend. It doesn’t remind my son when to change his sites. It also doesn’t allow you to preset personalized temporary basal rates or do all of your pump changes on your computer and beam it back to your pump. It does have a remote that speaks to the pump.  Granted we had a Cozmonitor that did that too but we haven’t used it in years and it was attached to the back of the pump.  The Ping remote is a handheld devise that allows me to test my son at night, and do a correction without searching under the covers for his pump.
The Ping also allows him to upload his pump to a website and then Mom can “see” all of his bg tests as well as pump issues and basal rates.  This was a great comfort for reasons I will discuss in another post.
We are now about three weeks into pumping with the Ping.  There have been real glitches. We have both accidentally stopped boluses.  He has somehow suspended a basal rate.  He has failed to put a cartridge in properly and had issues but we will get there. This is still a good pump. It has a warranty if we have problems. We have great support and did I mention that its now under warranty?ping

Diabetes and Exercise…What I learned last week

In the past few months my son has really gotten into body building.  I am not talking on the competitive Mr. Universe scale of things, but simply getting fit, building muscles and looking “buff”.  He was following the George St. Pierre workouts and is currently working out to the “Body Beast“. I am excited to see him taking an interest in his health.  I am impressed to see the muscle tone and the dedication that he is giving these efforts but it is also presenting new challenges to us–how to manage diabetes and exercise!
I was therefore overjoyed when I saw a poster from my Animas rep stating that she would be bringing two people into our area to speak on just that topic! I was dying for my son to actually attend and learn himself.  He was equally sure that I could go and bring him home the Coles Notes version!  In the end, he won with the valid excuse of having to study for final exams.
The night’s two speakers were Sebastien Sasseville and Heather Buckle. Both of these people are extremely athletic and living with Type 1 diabetes.  You may know Sebastien from his mountain climbing expedition to the top of Mount Everest, his recent run across the Sahara, or perhaps his many IronMan races. His motivational talk incorporated how important his diagnosis of diabetes has been in his personal growth as well as to his development as an athlete.
He explained how vital it was to have dreams and actually work towards them! With or without diabetes, it is important that we refuse to be still and we continue to evolve at all times. He refers to diabetes as a houseguest that is now your roommate and how you must learn to live with him/her in order to get the most out of your life.  He reminded his audience living with diabetes that it is not about the A1c, its about the journey to get there.  As a personal life coach, it was great to hear him reiterate some of the same things that I had recently talked about in my “Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer” session!
Sebastien also spoke a bit about his control and how he handled his diabetes care. I was surprised (although I should have intuitively known this) that the same exercise at different times of the day has to be handle in different ways.  This was important to bring home to my son who may workout at 8pm on a weeknight but 2pm on a weekend.  I tend to worry about workout times more in the terms of “let’s make sure he is not low during the night” and that is where it ended. This was a great talking point to use when I got home.
Heather continued the discussion on how to handle exercise and diabetes care by giving some great information on physiology.  She has been living with diabetes for 27 years and is an athlete as well as a physiotherapist and Certified Diabetes Educator.  She offered tips that my son and I had not even considered!
She noted that basal rates should be dropped by even a small bit up to two hours BEFORE exercise, the importance of eating within 15 minutes of exercise, and keeping an exercise diary.  She is the first person to show me real guidelines for when you can and cannot exercise when dealing with a high blood glucose level.  Its a question that parents often ask me when writing up plans for school–when is my child too high to participate in gym class? It turns out that the magic number–with or without ketones, is 17mmol (306mgdl).  Even without the presence of ketones, after 17, you will go higher with exercise! Fabulous to know for real world application!
Heather also showed us scenarios of why you may go higher after prolonged exercise even it you managed to stay in range for the entire period of exercise as well as how to fix this!  She talked about supplements, as well as the effect of temperature on insulin absorption.  Another light bulb moment for many people was when she discussed using multiple basal rates for one exercise time period! If you were doing an activity that required various levels of intensity, use various temporary basal rates.  This made many audience members go “Of course!” A final tidbit to remember–injuries will raise blood glucose levels. Duh! but still how often do we really think about it?
There was a lot more that both Heather and Sebastien had to say but those were some of the key points that were important for us.  Exercise is vital and as important as insulin when living with diabetes.  Attitude is everything–diabetes is not going away anytime soon so make it a positive part of your life!  Enjoy taking care of yourself. Enjoy being active and be the very best that you can be. Great messages from wonderful people!
exercise and diabetes animas

Phil, the SUPER COOL Animas Penguin

In honor of Wordless Wednesday, meet Phil the SUPER COOL Animas Penguin. He was way too cute not to bring home from this summer’s FFL Canada Conference

(And his belly is made to practice inserting infusion sets) 

Do They Know What They Are Missing?

I was again honored to be a part of the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Vancouver Conference this past weekend.  As a member of the faculty, I enjoy interacting with the many families who attend the conference, chat with some of the vendors and learn from the other staff and faculty whom attend.  It is an amazing experience. 

Over the past few years I have been a little discouraged at the lack of support from Canadian vendors.  Each year that I attend, I hope to gain some insight into which insulin pump I should chose for my son. His warranty will soon be up and what better place to learn about pumps then at a diabetes conference?  

Last year, when the conference was in Toronto, one of the major pump companies was obviously missing. I was quite disappointed because I had decided that I wanted to seriously look at their CGM integration. A few other companies also seemed to be missing but the event was still a great success. 

This year, when looking at technology, the pickings were even slimmer.  There were only two pump companies to chose from.  There was only one glucometer company to check out.  There were no insulin companies showing us the new directions that insulin and other hormones are headed in.  There were no sweetener booths showing us the awesome ways that better tasting alternatives to sugar could be used. 

There were some great companies present.  Children could decorate OmniPods.  Everyone loved dressing up and having their picture taken at the One Touch booth.  There were new gaming apps on display by an innovative company called ayogo as well as booths from Store a Tooth, MyCareConnect, Dex4, CDA, JDRF and more.  

At the beginning of the event, I was really disappointed by the poor Canadian corporate support to families living with diabetes.  Why were we not important? Did they feel that they were already reaching us through social media and did not need to be “seen” at such an event? 

As the event came to a close, my perspective changed dramatically.  I am sure that Jeff Hitchcock, Laura Billetdeaux and the other CWD staff experience this all of the time, but it was a bit novel for me.  I had vendors coming up to me as we were leaving thanking me (I spend a lot of time directing people from the registration booth so they have seen me a few times)! They were grateful to have been a part of such a special weekend.  They were honored (as I always am) to be involved in something that touches so many.  

I am not sure why the “other guys” don’t think that they need to attend CWD Canada events.  I know that they are truly missing out!  These events do more than bring families together and connect kids with new friends who also have diabetes–they create friends for life.  They create memories.  They inspire. They touch our hearts like nothing else can.