A tale of two pumps

They're the same, but they're not
Top-left: Old pump; Bottom-right: New pump

If there were five insulin pumps lined up in front of you, all same make and model, same color, same decorative touches, could you pick out the one that’s yours?  I’ll bet you could.  Perhas there’s a particular scratch or scuff-mark on it.   Possibly, something about the beeps is particularly unique.  Or maybe the melted chocolate stuck in the bezel on the back is all the evidence you need.

I just got a new pump on Tuesday.  Unlike others who sometimes switch manufacturers and/or colors, New Pump is exactly like Old Pump.  After developing a visible crack on Monday, I had called Medtronic and they had a replacement in my hands by Tuesday morning (Medtronic service: WIN!).

Before this gets too confusing, here’s a quick list of characters:

  • New Pump – the replacement Medtronic pump I just received this week
  • Old Pump – the Medtronic 523 that I’ve used for about a year
  • Really Old Pump – this was my first.  A Medtronic 515 that I got in 2006 and used past its warranty period

The backstory: From day one with Old Pump, the vibration alert hasn’t seemed quite right (I always keep my pump on vibrate so I don’t embarrassingly beep in public).  If I grasped it really tightly, it was OK, but mostly it loud, awkward, and uneven, kind of like steering a car with a flat tire over the rumble strips on the side of the highway.  I figured that maybe it’s just the way it  is –maybe Medtronic switched to a different supplier for its, uh, vibrating pieces.  Still, I’d secretly hoped to find a problem with it, so that I could get a replacement.  I never did, and the pump worked flawlessly for a year.

My old pump's vibrating alarms felt like I was veering off the road.
Image credit: adapted from photo by Andrew Bossi | Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons license)

I did make a conscious effort to make sure the battery cap was tightened, and I’ve read that other pumpers have had to get their cap replaced, maybe that was my issue.  That’s where the crack was – near the battery compartment.  I don’t know whether the crack came from overtightening the cap, or if I needed to overtighten the cap because of the crack.  But when I saw it and called the toll-free number, Medtronic quickly send out a replacement.  They also quickly advised me not to use my cracked pump because moisture could seep in through the break – advice which I ignored.  However, I did make sure my stash of “emergency stuff” was stocked and ready-to-go… just in case.

When I unpacked and picked up New Pump, something about the feel of it clearly said “new”.  The button labels were clean, and bold-white without any fingerprints.  The case had a cold, textured finish, not made slippery by 52 weeks of grime and sweaty palms.  (Maybe I should clean the outside of my pump every once in a while – ya think?).  A press of the buttons gave a clear audible and tactile “click”, which seemed odd until I realized Old Pump had that same feel when it was new (and probably Really Old Pump one, too).   That must be due to the newness of it, and it would quickly diminish with use, I was sure.

Immediately, I went to switch New Pump from beep-mode to vibrate-mode, because the thousand irritatingly high-pitched tones would have neighborhood dogs howling as I programmed in my eleven basal rates  (two patterns).  As soon as I highlighted “Vibrate” and pressed ACT, my heart melted.  I felt a gentle, reassuring response that I hadn’t felt since I last took out the battery from Really Old Pump.  One that politely said “Excuse me, I need to tell you something,” rather than “Hey moron! Stop drifting onto the shoulder and get back in your lane!”

Despite being exactly the same, part of this pump feels eerily different.

Posted on March 22, 2012, in Diabetes, Insulin pump, Personal. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hahaha! Vibration VS beeps… The only reason why I keep the sound on instead of vibration is for battery life!

    Glad to know you got really good care from Medtronic! They are just made of awesome 🙂


  2. This cracked me up! I totally know what you mean about the buttons feeling “new” when you push them. And like DiabeticallyYours, I also keep mine on beep instead of vibrate soley for the battery life. Occasionally I put it on vibrate if I’m in a meeting and don’t want to announce to the world (ok, just the room) that I need to tend to my diabetes at that very second. And most of the time I only do that when it’s a meeting with people that don’t know me or know that I’m T1.


  1. Pingback: Two pumps, revisited « Rolling in the D


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