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Ping to Pod – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We’re a couple months into our switch from Animus to Omnipod, and we’re slowly reaching cruising altitude. I’ve gotten great tips and information from other bloggers and podders that have definitely helped the transition – thank you!

A quick snapshot of how this transition looks for a 3-year-old boy and his pancreants (disclaimer: insulin delivery devices are a very individual choice – I’m not out to champion one pump or another for anyone else):

The Good

  • No surprise – going tubeless has been AWESOME! Luke can run around with a pump bumping on his back, we can hug him and not hug his pump, and going swimming is much, much easier.
  • Surprise! – I like that Omnipod doesn’t track IOB for carbs (it does for BG corrections). I understand concerns. We’ve had our share of stomach bugs and mini-glucagon moments, but with bolus history in the Omnipod, we’ve been able to quickly figure out carb IOB when needed.
    95% of the time, not seeing carb IOB has saved us from getting twitchy and giving too many free carbs. And we find corrections work much better without the pump including carbs in the IOB, as Animus does (we are careful not to correct for at least 1 1/2 hours after eating). Animus often would not suggest a correction hours after a big meal even if BGs were in the 200s, because it assumed meal insulin on board would bring blood sugar down – but that often didn’t happen.
  • Complete remote control – Having all pump functionality in one PDM is fantastic, because we change pump settings on an almost daily basis to keep up with Luke’s growing, changing body. The smooth little Pod is safe from his hands, and if he bangs it up or loses it in the pool – no worries about an expensive piece of equipment.

The Bad

  • Freestyle “Lite” vs. Regular strip debacle – Omnipod officially only supports Free Regular strips, but both work in the PDM and our rep told us it didn’t matter. The packaging made it very difficult for Medco to tell the difference, and we ended up with Freestyle Lite strips. A month later, we got a crappy A1C (8.8) that didn’t line up with numbers in the PDM or Dex. I found out from others who’d also had this experience that sometimes Freestyle Lite strips read lower for some individuals. We pulled out the Ping, another Freestyle meter, control solutions, and our fingers, and spent a weekend checking every possible combination of strips, meters, and calibration #s. Turned out Freestyle Lites read 20-30 points lower for Luke, and resetting the calibration to 18 gave a reading closest to the others. We then got a shipment of Regular strips, which we’re now using – curious to see if our next A1C is closer to the PDM and Dex #s.
  • PDM didn’t track correction IOB – Early on, daycare got a PDM error 5, which seemed to be a strip error. An hour later, Luke’s blood sugar dropped rapidly (double arrows down). Our nanny looked at the paper log and figured out that the correction IOB wasn’t being tracked in the PDM. Luke had been bolused twice for a very high BG and had way too much insulin in his system (juice away!). Omnipod replaced the PDM (to their credit, they very readily replace PDMs), gave us a free backup, and reported the error up their management chain. Their manual is very vague about what issues error messages indicate, so we now investigate any error very carefully.
  • Need smaller basal increments – There are a few hours during the day when Luke’s basal needs to be lower than the smallest .05/hour. With Animus, we could set .025/hour or even zero, which is great for small kids. We give free carbs to counter the .05/hour, but it’s one more thing to remember.
  • Limited real estate – Since the Pod is much larger than the average set, it can’t be put in as many places. We can only use Luke’s butt, which is looking pretty chewed up. I’m taking comfort from the fact that other young podders seem to make it work, but – I want the smaller pod this year!

The Ugly

Ain’t nothing ugly about it! Like so many little things, that makes a huge difference. Seeing Luke attached to something that looked and felt like a piece of hospital equipment (with a DOS interface) was depressing. Using a smartphone-like UI and pod feels like we’ve moved into this century, where diabetes is another complicated facet of daily life that can be tracked and managed. In a subtle way, it gives us hope, which is a very big thing.

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good to hear from you. I was just thinking about how we hadn’t blogged with each other for awhile. I’m with you. I don’t really care that omnipod doesn’t do iob for food boluses. I’m fine without it. Still, though, I struggle with getting that little pod started with it’s insulin drip almost every time. We’ve gotten closer and closer, but I’m still not perfect.

    April 12, 2012
    • Seems like everyone works out a different formula to get it going! Your video of TT was a big help for Luke – great to see another slightly older boy doing so much himself.

      April 14, 2012
  2. Kelly #

    Glad to hear that Luke’s transition has gone semi-smoothly! We too found that the freestyle strips read our little guy lower so we switched back to the One Touch…fyi Omnipod is switching to the One Touch strips sometime down the road…just when you get comfortable with something right! I also heard through the grapevine that the smaller pod is coming sometime at the end of the Summer or Fall of this year…fingers crossed!

    April 12, 2012
    • And it’s funny – a friend said the Ping strips were way off for them! I wonder if there’s more individual chemistry to even blood sugar measurements than is known.

      April 14, 2012
  3. Thanks for the info. I have been very curious how ‘the switch’ has been going for all involved. Not sure we are ready to make the change to Omnipod yet, but definitely gives us some valuable information to consider…Thanks.

    April 12, 2012
    • Great to hear from you. 🙂 Maybe see you at Beat the Bridge (no record downpours this year, please!)!

      April 14, 2012
  4. Maxs mom #

    We used butt only for awhile just rotating a bit, now we also use the back of the arm, sounds horrible but it actually is great and it gives all places time to heal between. Also, be wary of bad pods, it seems to come in waves for no rhyme or reason. One trick we learned is when you fill the pod get the bubbles out syringe up, the when filling the pod gently tap for bibles at the tip, you will be surprised how many hide at the tip that float to the top of the syringe down never entering the pod. I think we went through several pod changes before learning this one. Ma is 2 so we can wait for the smaller one too ;))

    April 12, 2012
    • Thanks for the tip! Heard those little bubbles can cause Pod failure. Have heard arms are good, too, but we’ve got the Dex there. Keep hearing rumors the smaller pods will come out soon – fingers crossed!

      April 14, 2012
  5. Glad to hear things, over all, are going well!
    A suggestion for the 0.05 basal issue…..Bean had a time where 0.20 wasn’t enough and 0.25 was too much, so what I did was program each hour alternating between the two. So, 8-9am would be 0.20 and 9-10am would be 0.25, and so on. Yeah, it was time consuming to program a different rate for each hour she needed those rates, BUT, it worked and kept her from crashing or being too high.
    Happy Podding!!

    April 14, 2012
    • Alternating is a great idea! Unfortunately, the .05 is still too much, and there aren’t lower increments for alternating. Free carbs seem to be the only solution. Thanks for the tips and encouragement!

      April 17, 2012
  6. wow, what a thorough (and entertaining) wrap-up of your experiences thus far. my kid is interested in possibly switching from minimed to ping or pod, so this was very helpful. thanks! 🙂

    April 18, 2012
  7. Ed #

    Thanks for your comments, my 9 year old has been on the Omnipod since her diagnosis and we are very happy with it. I am excited to see that she will never have to worry about tubing getting caught on doorknobs. When I look out and watch her doing summersaults in the yard and swimming in the pool, I know I made the right choice. Your summary was right on.

    July 11, 2012
    • I love the image of summersaults in the yard – that does kind of sum it up. Supposedly Omnipod has gotten the initial letter of approval from the FDA for smaller pods – fingers cross they actually materialize this year!

      July 11, 2012
  8. Susan E #

    Has anyone on this blog used the Omnipod with a child under the age of 2? The pod looks big in the photos I’ve seen. My grand baby is using a pump now and, so far, the only spot they’ve used for his site is his butt. He was diagnosed at 9 months and is 19 months now. Any feedback is appreciated.

    September 16, 2012
    • You could ask on Children With Diabetes (website) – there are forums there for different pump users, etc, and someone might be able to respond. The smaller pods are supposed to come out the end of this year. The dosage increments might be too large for a 2 year old, but I’ve heard of people using diluted insulin in the pods to work around that. The Diapers & Diabetes Facebook group is also a great resource with some very young podders. Good luck!

      September 16, 2012
  9. I really like your writing style, fantastic information, thanks for posting : D.

    December 16, 2012

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