As much as I love Gizmo, I’m kind of tired of my insulin pump. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain. Having a $6,000 piece of equipment attached to me 24/7 has been an immense help in the management of my disease over the past four years.
But I am starting to understand why fellow Type 1 diabetics take a break from the pump every now and then and sometimes forever. It’s not easy having something attached to you 24/7. Right now I carry three devices around with me to manage my disease: my insulin pump (aka Gizmo), my continuous glucose monitoring receiver (aka Cosmo), and my glucometer. That doesn’t count my phone.
Gizmo is about the size of a pager. I usually conceal it clipped to my bra strap or waistline of my skirt or pants. The clip is currently taped together with duct tape, and the Medtronic label is practically worn away. I’ve had Gizmo for four and a half years. I’ve only had to replace it once when the battery container froze shut. For the most part I have no complaints.
But lately I’ve been more annoyed with Gizmo than happy. Take for example:
- The number of times I put my hand down my shirt in public to grab Gizmo and administer an insulin injection. Often times the clip gets stuck to my bra strap so then it’s a tug-of-war situation, and my bras carry the scars.
- Not to mention there’s often not a good place to clip Gizmo. If I’m wearing a tight-fitting dress, even clipping to my bra strap is painful, and my underwear is too light to carry the weight. Because of the tube, there’s only so far Gizmo can go.
- And then there’s the tube. Oh my god if this thing gets wrapped around my underwear one more time I might hurl it across the room.
- Clipping it to my waistline offers little protection. I inevitably knock it with my purse or against a door frame and then it falls loose to the floor, pulling my skin with it.
- I have to take off Gizmo any time I go swimming or hop in the shower. It’s not waterproof and even though I have a plastic sheath for the injection point left on my skin I often nick myself with its harsh touch anyway.
- I should wear Gizmo when I exercise but I often don’t. It’s too much of a hassle to deal with, and I hate the extra weight so I leave it off for an extended period of time.
- I can technically place Gizmo on other spots than around my stomach but this is the best place to inject and is in closest proximity to the places I usually clip Gizmo. But it would be nice to change up my injection points. My stomach and back sides are sore from the many times I’ve changed my insulin pump and CGM sensors there.
- The constant vibrations! Whether I’m using a temp basal or suspending for the shower or a low reservoir — I really could get used to not having my ass vibrate.
Although I paid $1,500 for Gizmo (after insurance), the warranty is up. And I’ve been thinking about alternative methods for administering insulin. There’s more than one pump on the market – even some that sync up with the CGM I use (although I recently learned this is not the latest CGM model). There are some that are thinner and use a touch screen. And then there are some that don’t use a tube at all. They’re completely wireless. It’s called OmniPod.
I looked into OmniPod a few years back. It seemed ideal for someone as physically active as I was but I had heard bad reviews. And I still had a few years on my insulin pump (which I paid a lot for) so I didn’t bother reviewing other options too heavily. I recently asked a fellow Type 1 what kind of pump she recommended I look into, and she actually encouraged me to check out OmniPod again.
But even though I’m not necessarily sold on OmniPod, I need a break from my pump. So I decided to look into it – at least see what the insurance coverage is. Because OmniPod comes with its own receiver for administering insulin. No tubes or pulling a pager out of my bra required. The receiver also acts as a glucometer. So suddenly I’m already down to two devices as opposed to three. But then there’s the new CGM that syncs up with my phone instead of an alternate receiver. Now down to one.
Yeah the convenience factor alone started to intrigue me. Sure I’d have to change test strips (since my current test strips are for a different glucometer) but they still cost the same. And the pods are disposable so even though I wouldn’t have to change out the battery every month or so with my pump I’d still be depending on a constant supply of disposable pods. But that’s what I do with my CGM sensors. With automatic shipping it’s not so bad. And the pods are so small! I could attach them to my underarm, my back side, my stomach, or my quads!
And the receiver OmniPod uses is only $500 without insurance coverage. That’s not a bad investment for something disposable, and I still have a working pump. If in a year I want to go back on the pump I easily can. Not much lost there.
But the receiver or personal diabetes manager (PDM) is only $100 with insurance coverage. Wow. $100 for the PDM and $70 for a two-month supply of the pods? This really could be the break I need.
Today I got a call about my insurance coverage. They won’t cover it. They say it’s not the most cost-effective version of insulin delivery since the pods are disposable. So a $6,000 pump is more cost-effective? I suppose….
But if I’m controlling my diabetes what does it matter? I’m not ending up in the ER with severe hyper- or hypoglycemia. Shouldn’t that count for something?
It rarely does in the insurance world. It doesn’t matter how healthy I am otherwise. I still have diabetes. I’m a black mark on their golden system. But to be honest I’m tired of fighting. I could appeal it. I could look into other options. But I do have a FSA, and I have no deductible. And they offered a payment plan for the $500. I wouldn’t have to pay it all up front. I mean that’s what I did for my pump. I got that during grad school so it took me a few years to pay off but I finally did. And it was totally worth it.
I know going through the appeal process and making all those phone calls to evaluate my options will just take a toll on my emotional and mental stress. I’m at the end of my first week-long vacation in five years. I don’t want to lose all that I’ve gained this week.
So f*ck insurance. I know what I need to best manage my diabetes and be healthy. If I want to try the OmniPod system so that I will keep getting continuous insulin delivery even while being physically active then I will. Fortunately I have the financial means to make that happen.
But what about those that don’t? How sad it is that we live in this world. I use to be one of those people. I remember what it’s like to go into intense medical debt because of a chronic condition that’s not your fault. It sucks. So maybe I’m not advocating for myself as much as I should but I refuse to be a victim to this system.
I will live and thrive and survive. Diabetes does not own me. I hope it never will.
A Small World
Oh and as a nice aside I recently visited Epcot at Disney World with my friend, and while touring the world a woman came up beside me and asked where I injected my pump. She showed me the pump attached to her belt and wanted to know how I was able to clip my pump to the edge of my spaghetti-strap sun dress under my left arm. I told her my stomach. Same as hers.
We had a moment. It was wonderful. And it was nice to see showing off my pump was no longer embarrassing or something to be ashamed of. It was a way of connecting with fellow diabetics. I don’t know that many Type 1’s. And I don’t see that many Gizmo’s. But when I do it brings a smile to my face.
Especially since this woman is also a mother. It gives me hope.