Never lie to your pump

Hypothetically speaking, even someone like me who’s been diabetic for 21 years can still make mistakes. And does. Oh who am I kidding about hypotheticals… I screwed up trying to cut corners and it could have ended up badly. Very badly. Lesson learned, but thought I’d share nonetheless.

**Disclaimer: What I did is NOT recommended no matter what type of pump you use. I happen to use a Medtronic pump/CGM (although I did not have my CGM on during this particular mishap.)

Sometimes I cut corners for different reasons. I think a lot of us do that in different ways, but one way I do it is to extend the life of my infusion site by adding more insulin to it. In order to do that, I take out my reservoir from the pump, draw more insulin into it, rewind the pump and prime it – the pump is smart, but it’s only a machine and it thinks I am starting a brand new infusion site. Otherwise it might think something along the lines of “why is this idiot only putting 100 units in here, and not the 300 that it’ll hold?”

So last night I did just that. It was late – after 11 pm and I got my Low Reservoir alert and frankly was too tired to deal with a site change, so I thought I’d do what I’ve done many times before and add insulin to the reservoir in order to get a good night’s sleep before changing out my site. What happened ended up being the opposite of that, though.

I took out my reservoir, drew insulin back to the “1” (which is approx 100 units.) My key mistake here was I did not disconnect my pump. Yes, for those of you that know what’s coming – feel free to berate me – I deserve it. So basically I primed my pump while I was connected to it. Normally I do disconnect, as I should always do. (Technically, I should just change out the darn site to begin with.) But this time I again was tired, and didn’t disconnect. The pump even asks “Are you disconnected?” And I lied to it.

So I’m priming my pump (still connected) and the site starts burning a little (which usually means insulin is going in, pretty fast). I thought it should be done soon but it kept priming. This all took a matter of a few seconds.. but when it finally finished, something felt off – seemed like it took longer than usual to prime.

Now keep in mind, I drew it back to “1”. But when I pulled out the reservoir to look at it, I saw this:


In case you can’t see the line it’s on, it’s around 2 1/2 lines above the 1 … which means I potentially gave myself almost 60 units of insulin. Yea let that sink in for a few seconds. Dumb, I know.

Luckily I was a little high after dinner (269) but I’d already corrected that and had 6ish units on board from that correction. Now add a potential 60 more units to that and I could’ve been in big trouble. I was chatting with a couple of my friends at the time and one of them happens to be a mom of a T1 and she freaks but talks me through it … she says that it’s going to hit fast when it does hit and I need to start drinking juice now. So I did. I drank 2 juice boxes and still dropped 67 pts in about 30 minutes. So I suspended my pump for an hour, drank 2 more juice boxes, and fell steady around 150. I set an alarm for every hour, and my husband woke me up several times to ask how I was doing. Ironic that I ended up not sleeping after all this was caused by me wanting to get more sleep??

I checked several times over night and luckily was in range. Woke up with a 137 and fine the next day. I got lucky.

Moral of the story: Don’t lie to your pump.

About Shannon

I am a wife, a mommy, and a Type 1 diabetic (since '92.) I have had two successful pregnancies - one of which was with twins. I wear an insulin pump- - off and on for 17 years; currently on the Medtronic pump and CGM. I am not a medical professional, nor am I giving medical advice. I am just sharing my day to day stories of someone who lives with this disease every day. My ultimate goal is to raise awareness.
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6 Responses to Never lie to your pump

  1. Sara says:

    Yikes! That’s scary! I am glad you’re okay!

  2. Scott E says:

    First, let me say how glad I am that you’re OK, and if you kept your calm and composure as much as it seems from this post, I’m impressed!

    Second, thanks for pointing out how useless these increasingly-mandated “are you sure?” screens are.

    Third, be thankful that you need as much insulin as you do. For me, 60 units is about two days’ worth, and I can’t see myself consuming six meals worth of food in just 60 minutes. It seemed like no big deal to you; the mistake was a much smaller magnitude.

    Fourth, I can’t say that I’ve ever done that, but I have reconnected and gone to bed with the ‘Press ACT to prime’ screen still displayed, only to wake up with ketones (no insulin actually delivered) and seeing the blinking digits on the screen (ready and set for a large-scale rapid delivery). Scary both with regards to what happened, and what COULD HAVE happened if that button got pressed!

    And to reiterate the first once again…so glad you’re OK.

  3. StephenS says:

    Glad everything turned out okay in the end. I’m thinking this might have been more difficult if it had happened in the middle of the day, with the kids needing attention, and your spouse at work. It was a crazy situation, but it sounds like you handled it like a champ.

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