The OmniPod insulin pump, static electricity, and winter weather: What do these three things have in common? They don’t go well together; when combined, they result in pod failures that have got me frustrated and helpless.
I’ve experienced so many pod failures due to static electricity this winter that I can’t quite pinpoint exactly when the first one happened. But I do remember calling the OmniPod support team to report one of the initial failures inflicted by static and having a conversation that went something like this:
OmniPod Representative: Could you please provide me with the reference code associated with your pod failure?
Me: *Rattles off long sequence of numbers*
OmniPod Rep.: That reference code indicates that your pod failed due to exposure to static electricity. In order to avoid this in the future, we recommend that you avoid wearing wooly fabrics—try wearing more cotton. Dry air also results in static electricity production, so you might consider using an air humidifier to increase the moisture content.
Me: *Indignant* But I live in Massachusetts. Winter has just started so I can’t exactly switch to lighter clothing. And sure, I can start using our humidifier at home, but what am I supposed to do when I’m at work? I’m sure the air is dry there, too, but I can’t bring a humidifier into the office.
OmniPod Rep.: I’m sorry ma’am, these are the only recommendations we have for you at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience you’ve experienced. Now, if you’d like a replacement pod…
More than a half dozen subsequent phone calls have followed this same pattern, and with each additional phone call, my irritation with the matter grows. I would never blame the OmniPod representatives for the issues I’ve been having; after all, they have been fairly sympathetic and offered to replace my pods as needed. Rather, I’m more so upset with the fact that pods with a known issue like this are being put into consumers’ hands. I’m almost certain that there are no other insulin pumps currently on the market that cease functioning because of a little static electricity. It’s a bit outlandish to me that the technology within the pods is evidently not sophisticated enough to endure the environmental inevitabilities of winter in New England.
And I know that I’m not the only OmniPod user who’s had this problem numerous times: My mom, a fellow T1D and OmniPod customer, has experienced just as many, if not more, pod failures due to static electricity as I have. She’s also annoyed with the less than satisfactory “solutions” we’ve been provided by the OmniPod support team, but she also understands that there’s not much more the individual representatives can do at this point to assist us.
To be clear, we both love our OmniPods when they’re working as they should. I decided to get one because of my mother’s positive feedback regarding her own OmniPod, and I’ve never regretted my choice. My blood sugars and A1c have improved markedly since my transition and I feel that my OmniPod has provided me a freedom that I could have never had if I stayed on shots. But I have to admit that it’s scary to literally place my life into the figurative hands of an insulin pump that isn’t flawless. When I was on shots, I could at least hold myself accountable for my diabetes care. It feels like a loss of control when I hand over that responsibility to a piece of technology that doesn’t always work due to system errors or disruptions.
I try to stay optimistic, though. This year is supposed to be a good one for improvements in the realm of diabetes technology, so I remain hopeful that a more perfect solution is developed to help make daily management of this disease easier.