We have had very good luck with Bisi’s Omnipod system over the three years she’s used it. We’ve had some pod failures here and there, but those seem to have dissipated somewhat as we’ve become more experienced with filling the pod with insulin. The only time we’ve had to replace the controller or PDM was when I drove over it after it fell out of the car. So it was an unwelcome surprise when the Omnipod system failed, while we were in the airport on the day before Thanksgiving.
We had just gone through airport security (could the x-ray machines have had anything to do with it?), when Bisi decided to have a snack. When she went to bolus for it, the PDM alarmed and said to remove her pod and call Omnipod. They walked us through the reset instructions; twice. But after reset didn’t work for the second time, the service rep told us the PDM needed to be replaced. But with Thanksgiving, we wouldn’t be able to get the new one until Friday.
That’s a long time to wait for a ten-year-old who’s excited about Thanksgiving dinner and doesn’t like to get injections. But luckily we’d brought Lantus and some syringes with us in our back up supplies (though we wished we’d brought more of the syringes).
Though we’ve given an injection here and there, we’ve been relying on the pump to calculate dosages and give insulin for more than three years, so doing it ourselves again felt intimidating. This time, as opposed to when she was seven, Bisi wanted to do most of the injections herself, so she quickly gave herself her Lantus basal dose, and calculated a bolus for her snack.
Though the experience was stressful, and the timing was not ideal, we learned a couple of things along the way.
In retrospect there were signs that the PDM was perhaps on the way out. A few times it wouldn’t start up right away when I pressed the buttons on it; and a couple of times I had to take out the batteries and put them back in before I could get it to turn on. If I start seeing signs like that again, I’ll see if I can get the PDM replaced before it totally breaks (though I’m not sure if Omnipod works that way).
What was interesting (and depressing) was that it seemed to us that Bisi’s blood sugar was more even, easier to control, and easier to bring down using injections rather than the pump. (I say depressing because it’s hard to have this realization about the technology that your child is unalterably committed to.) Was this because of the even basal rate that Lantus provides versus the variable one we have programmed into her pump? Or maybe that our boluses with the pump didn’t take into account insulin on board, so tended to be a little bigger? Or maybe because shots in different parts of the body are just more effective than insulin going into the same place for three days running. Whatever the reason, we’ve decided with Bisi that when her blood sugar needs a correction, we’ll give it by injection instead of by pump whenever we can. We were forced into this realization by the breakdown of technology. If it turns out that using this older tool in our arsenal is helpful for Bisi, we have the Omnipod’s malfunction over a holiday to thank.