God knows I'm excited about diabetes devices going wireless. So I've been keeping my eye on the new OneTouch Ping system, a combination of the Animas 2020 insulin pump and a OneTouch glucose meter that talk to each other wirelessly. This means you can actually control the pump right from the glucose meter — setting basal rates and bolus insulin doses — without ever having to "pull the pump off your hip."
It's not as completely untethered as the OmniPod, mind you, because you're still wearing a traditional insulin pump with plastic tubing. But the Ping still takes a big step forward in terms of convenience and a more "discreet" way to live with diabetes (i.e. you can hide your pump better).
Since I wasn't about to change my pumping system just for a product review, I asked Animas to put me in touch with someone using the system, to hear how they feel about it in real life. Naturally, the woman they referred me to was quite enthusiastic. But she was no "plant," either. She's a lifelong Type 1 who kind of put me to shame with her disciplined approach to her diabetes management (she downloads her data every week and keeps extra meters "all over the place" — good idea!)
So allow me to introduce you to Jeanette Szwelnis, 29, a supervisor of collections at the Central Blood Bank in North Huntington, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. (I can't believe she works with blood!) Jeanette is getting married this Saturday, Oct. 25, so special thanks for taking the time to talk with me, and CONGRATS, Jeanette!
In her own words:
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"I've had diabetes for 26 years. I was diagnosed at age three and a half. I've been on a pump for about 8 years now. I started out with Minimed, and then upgraded to the Animas 1250. It was upgrade time again, and I was looking at new pumps.
I was really hoping to get the Ping, because I'm getting married soon and I knew the wireless thing would make my life so much easier. I'm not pulling the pump off my hip all the time — out of my pants, from underneath skirts and all. And when I get dressed up, I don't have to go to the bathroom to check my levels and do my bolus.
With the wedding I was especially excited because I was going to have to train a bridesmaid to control my pump for me; I was sure I couldn't do it myself. With the old pump, I was going to have the seamstress sew an inside pocket into my wedding dress to hold the pump. But the tubing line wouldn't be long enough for me to pull it out of the dress far enough to control it myself. So I was planning to go into the bathroom and have my sister pull it out and push the buttons for me. Now I don't have to worry about any of that. I can control everything from the glucometer, which I'll have in my purse.
At work, I still wear the pump on the outside of my pocket, but it's hidden underneath my scrubs all the time — and it's so much easier to do everything right from my glucometer.
I think the Ping is great. I haven't found any cons yet... but I have to admit, I've used the OneTouch glucometer forever, so I'm very comfortable with it.
The only thing was that I flew on a plane a few weeks ago, and had to turn off the radio frequency, because of FCC requirements; I figured better safe than sorry. But shutting off the frequency doesn't affect anything, because I can just go back to using my pump the regular way.
All of your data is stored on both the glucometer and the pump. You can download everything using the EZmanager software. Both devices hook into a USB port, and it takes maybe 5 minutes. You get graphs, details on basal, bolus rates, averages, etc. My doctor can't access the program, so I have to print it out and fax it to him. But that's fine with me. I download my stuff every couple of days, and every two weeks I send it in to my doctor. It's so much easier than having to write everything down.
Has switching to the Ping changed my results? It's not a huge change. I'm more excited about the extra features. The physical pump and my infusion set are the same. But I love being able to program everything from my meter. Also the new screen display on the pump is easier to read. It's color and backlit. So if I want to look in the middle of the night, I'm not turning lights on. I love that it has a little color to it.
Also, I can program it for sensitivity levels, and to alarm me in case of occlusion errors. I used to have problems depending on how long the infusion site was there: I wouldn't get good absorption. But this pump has the capability to sense when it's not fully delivering.
And the customer service is great. If something strange happens, I can call them and any time of day and they will call me back within 10 minutes. It's beautiful..."
Editor's Note: Jeanette is a happy camper indeed. Maybe it's the wedding... She's doing something very special, by the way: instead of wedding favors, they're making a donation to JDRF. And they've set up their online gift registry at Macy's so that a percentage of revenues goes to JDRF as well. Nice moves, Jeanette.
DiabetesMine has just learned that the meter portion of the OneTouch Ping product is being recalled by the manufacturer. See this link for details.