Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

"Mom, I feel low."

"Okay, Bud-- let's see where you're at."

Joseph washes his hands, dries them on a dish towel, and picks up his meter.

A "beep" and then -- 66

"Should I take two, Mom?"

"Yup-- and why don't you just disconnect from your pump. We need to do a set change anyway... "

While I go collect the necessary supplies, Joseph sets his insulin pump on the kitchen counter, pulls up a chair and begins crunching away at two glucose tabs.

Returning to the counter, I press the backlight button to "wake up" the pump, and immediately-- the thing alarms.



Peering down at the display screen, I see the words "Call for Service" -- along with instructions to "remove the battery to stop the pump alarm."

The pump then begins to vibrate -- almost angrily, it seems -- as if to drive the point home.

Alrighty, then.

The last time we got this error message, an Animas rep told us that the pump will alarm occasionally if it needs to be re-booted due to "a general processing error."

We would only need to be concerned if this happens "two or more times within a 30-day period." (It's been over three months since we last saw this error message.)

So, unfazed, I search through a kitchen drawer for a nickel so that I can unscrew the battery cap.

I pop the battery out, then back in.

The remainder of the set change goes off without a hitch.

Despite this fact, I decide to call Animas-- I mean, the pump did say "Call for Service."

As I grab our cordless phone and head downstairs, Ryan mentions that the buttons on the pump seem "a little less responsive lately"-- that you have to press them more than once sometimes when you unlock it.


Moving back up the stairs, I call out:

"Hey, Joseph-- have you noticed anything funky about the buttons on your pump?"

"Well, sometimes they kind of hesitate when I'm unlocking it."

I dial Animas.

Immediately after describing the alarm and error message, a pump support person instructs me to re-boot.

I tell her that I've already done so and all appears well -- but then I describe Ryan and Joseph's problem with the buttons.

"Is the rubber that covers the buttons coming away at all?" she asks.

"I don't think so-- let me go check."

I run back upstairs, look over the front of Joseph's pump, and tell her: "Nope, it looks fine."

And then as we're talking, something dawns on me (and on the pump support rep as well). With my hand over the phone, I call out:

"Hey, Ryan, Joseph-- are you pushing the buttons to unlock the pump, and then finding that you have to push them a second time before it unlocks? Is that what's going on?

"Yeeess," they respond.

"Okay. You guys need to wake up the pump first -- by pushing a button -- and then unlock it. That's why it seems like it's hesitating. It's a two-step thing."

"Oh." they both say, smiling sheepishly.

I then return to the patiently-waiting pump support person and -- feeling a bit sheepish myself -- tell her that "it seems my boys just forgot the pump wake-up procedure."

So we're all good.

Until later-- when Joseph pulls his pump out of its case to see how much insulin he has on board.

"Mom, look at this!" he says, looking stunned as he holds his pump out to me.

Oh. My. God.

The rubber over the backlight button at the top of his pump is pulling away.

(Clearly, my earlier examination of the pump's rubbery surfaces was less than thorough. )

For when he flips the pump over, and touches the rubber area just below the buttons, we discover that this too is no longer attached.

At. All.

You've got to be kidding.

When I call Animas back, I'm told that while Joseph's pump is still functional, it's no longer waterproof -- and that a new pump will arrive by noon the next day.

The following morning -- before I finish my second cup of coffee, a package arrives.

Joseph's fifth insulin pump.

Am I upset? Are we freaking out about this?

No. Not really.

Yes, needing yet another replacement pump is disconcerting-- but considering that our very active eleven-year-old child wears this thing 24/7, it would be surprising if nothing ever went wrong with this device.

And this last pump worked beautifully for over a year (a much better track record than its three predecessors).

We've got two years left before insurance will cover a new pump, and as it stands now, Joseph wants to stay with Animas (he really loves this pump).

Quite frankly, I like it too-- and with one exception, the service we've gotten from this company has been stellar.

But still.

Five pumps in two years.

I guess we're just gonna have to see what the next two years bring.

(And fingers crossed, it won't be yet another pump.)


Nicole P said...


So funny looking at the photos before I scrolled down to read the rest of the post, I was thinking "boy, that pump LOOKS like it belongs to an active kid..."

Hope all is well with you, Sandra.

Things here are busy, but OK. :)

Kerri said...

Minimed. Their customer service sucks royally sometimes but man, those things churn and burn.

(Now that I've written this, I'm sure my pump will explode.)

Bernard said...

I have to agree with Kerri. My pump looks well worn.

I did replace it once about 18 months ago. I think that might have been my second Minimed replacement in a total of nearly 9 years of pumping.

Kassie said...

you are a remarkably patient woman :)

I think the newer pumps are just less hardy. My first two (MM) went the distance but my last MM had to be replaced before the warranty ran out, and I've had a cozmo fail on me in the 1 year I've been using it.

I guess it boils down to how helpful they are on the phone, and how quickly they replace them. Sounds like Animas did fine on both counts this time!

Sandra Miller said...


We're hanging in there.

Lots going on-- more than I've had time to share here, I'm afraid.

Glad to hear things are OK on your end. :-)


I've heard that Minimeds are pretty tough little machines, too. But man, they've got a bad rep when it comes to their service.


Two replacement pumps in 9 years, eh?

I gotta think (hope) that our track record is at least partly due to Joseph being an active kid (i.e., how many of us spend an entire day digging a tunnel through a snow bank? :-)

Oh Kassie-

I don't know that I'm all that patient with this stuff-- a little shell-shocked, maybe...

(And seriously, if you look back at my older posts labeled "insulin pump problems" you'll find a far less patient woman. :-)

But you are certainly correct about Animas' helpful and fast response-- which is probably why I haven't gone nuts about this.

Shannon said...

Brendon has had the Cozmo for 3 yrs without any kind of problem. We did however get a brand new pump about 1 1/2 yrs ago because the plastic screen was scratched up. But as for malfunctions, or falling apart...nada.

Jess Riley said...

My heart goes out to you & Joseph; malfunctioning technology can be annoying, but when it's connected to our well-being, it's another story entirely. Here's to the kinks being worked out soon...

Laura said...

I have had my minimed since 2002, and only sent in once to get it fixed, the past few weeks, I have been getting a no delivery alarm but its not a daily occurance. I hope it keeps working until I can get some kind of health insurance that covers a new pump

Molly said...

I feel a deja vu! Don't know if you read my last post, but the same thing happened to me while I was changing my cartridge. My Cozmo died. The rep that I dealt with was great. Since it's a local company, I was able to drive over and get a replacement pump (the rep even took all the data off of my old pump and put it on the new one.) I agree with you. We can be hard on those little boxes of technology. Mine has seen some real action. I think that the tech support is the key to the pump. After all, they are really all about the same...

Kendra said...

Sandra, I can't comment on Minimed's service because I've never had a problem with my pump. If they are bad, I wouldn't know it. I guess I am lucky? My pump has been going strong since Dec '04. While I'm not a young boy, I'm NOT nice to my pump. It gets dropped and banged and clanged and generally abused. I'd definitely look elsewhere when insurance allows - Cozmo maybe?

I know Animas has the waterproof feature you like, but to be honest your blog & other Animas users have convinced me I'll never go with this company!

Penny said...


Riley got his 3rd Animas pump in December, after just 9 months of pumping.

But, it doesn't bother me too much. I'm just so darned thankful for the thing.