Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Loving Medtronic!

SO at long last, VACATION!!!!

We rented a condo in Fort Lauderdale by the sea. Right on the beach!  Walking distance from a Winn Dixey grocery store... and all the low fat and low carb US food offerings (yay!  Publix Key Lime frozen yogurt!!!!!)

Day 1
We arrived! It was hot!  We slathered ourselves in sun screen and walked down the beach, right by the water because the sand was HOT!  We drank ice cold glasses of Diet Sierra Mist (Love it!) under parasols.  We admired the aquariums in the lobby of our condo.  We shopped for sand toys for my son and did our first round at the grocery stores.  (Not so easy to find Quinoa, by the way)

Day 2
We woke up early.  We sunscreened and went to play in the sand: my son was very excited to scoup up buckets of water and pour them onto my sand 'birthday cakes'.  We waded into water up to our thighs.  We admired sea shells and dodged jelly fish.
At about 11AM, it started to get too hot for us .  We walked back into the wonderfully air conditionned lobby.   My son eagerly rose to his tippy toes to press the elevator call button (he gets so proud when the button lights up).  We get inside and wince at the high pitched ringing noise.
'Do you hear that too?' I asked my husband
'They must be working on something to do with the elevators' he replied

We got out at our floor.  And the high pitched ringing sound continued.
 My husband and I exchanged a look of resigned annoyance but what could we do.

We walked into our condo.  And the sound continued.
'My God!  It's in here too!' I said.
My husband walks into the kitchen, I followed behind 'here too!' he said.
'Oh no, hope it's not in the bedroom, we have to put the baby to nap!'  I hurried into the bedroom

'It's here too' I called out
'It stopped in the kitchen' my husband yelled back. 

I went to to check it out myself and my husband went to check out the bedroom

'It's back in the kitchen' I yelled
'It stopped in the bedroom' he responded.

We met in the living room,
my husband looked at me
and pointed at me
'It's you!' he said

Yes, indeed.. It was my pump.  It had died and was screaming on it's deathbed.  Just 5 years old and dead.  This was my first and only insulin pump.  This had never happened before.  A piece of the plastic at the top of the battery compartment had actually broken off.  And now my pump was finished!

I called the 1-800 customer service number for Canada/US Medtronic and learned that my warranty had actually expired 3 weeks prior.  We're talking about a $7,000 medical device here!
Now what?  I had no emergency rental pump that smarter people obtain from Medtronic ahead of time to bring with them on vacation for just this purpose.  I have never needed their help for anything actually.
I was suddenly very upset and overwhlemed.
'What do I do now?' I asked Shilpa, the Medtronic customer service rep
'Well, you go back to multiple daily injections.  Do you know how to do that?' Shilpa asked
'I guess, but I think my Lantus is expired' I answered 'But you know', I continued, ' I never once needed any replacement pumps from Medtronic'

And then, the lovely Shilpa said this:
'Well, I see you never needed a courtesy pump.  Since you are just 3 weeks past expiry, I will ask my manager if we can still send you one'
'Wow!  Thanks!' I said 'Go ask, I'll wait on the line' 

At this point, I was still hoping a new pump would magically appear and I could avoid going back to 4-7 injections per day.

'I'm sorry Tamara, but I will need to get back to you after I have spoken with my manager, it may take a day or 2'
Oh no!  A day or TWO!!!!
So I hung up, went through my diabetes supplies and my emergency diabetes supply.  The short term insulin, Novoprapid is what I used in my pump, so I had plenty of that on hand, I had planned for that!  The Lantus had expired.  You don't need Lantus when you're on a pump, the Lantus stays in your system for 24 hours, with the pump, you get a steady drip of short term insulin instead (which can be adjusted to suit your body's needs)
I set about finding the name and number for a pharmacy nearby. CVS on 34th avenue.  Good.

I called my neighborhood pharmacy.  I needed them to call in a prescription for me. 
'I'm sorry' said the curmudgeon pharmacist over the phone, 'we can't call in a prescription to a pharmacy in  foreign country'.
'But it's the United Stated!' I said, making an effort to sound likeable and friendly (I am in sales after all, no one wants to go out of their way for a shrew) 'Our friendly neighbor to the South.  And it's insulin not morphine.'
'Nope, nothing I can do, sorry' he said cheerfully and hung up
'Prick', I mumbled.
'Pwick! Pwick! Pwick!' chirped my 2 year old happily, seizing on a new word he clearly wasn't supposed to hear

Luckily I have an awesome endocrinologist at the Montreal General Hospital.  I left him an urgent message. 

Meanwhile Shilpa from Medtronic called me back.
'Good news' she said' we've approved a one time courtesy pump for you, since your warranty expired so recently.  Where should I send it?'
I did a happy dance and gave her the Florida address.  It would take 2-3 days but a pump was on its way!!!!!

My endo called 5 minutes later.  He called in a prescription for Lantus at the CVS pharmacy (good thing I had the information).  He instructed me how much to dose.  He coached me on how to transfer back to a pump.  He even gave me the settings for my hourly insulin rates and food ratios (which I had updated him with at our appointment a month earlier.

It's a funny thing to find yourself absent a medical device that you've worn 24/7 for over 5 years!  First, I took advantage of not having anything to clip to my persons and wore a fun and flirty summer dress with NO BELT!  Then, I ended up taking 3 injections within the next 3 hours: for lunch, a second helping and then a snack later.  I was used to eating and dosing with the push of a button.  Without a pump, each of these actions required injecting insulin.  And at night, every time I rolled over, I woke up panicked that my pump wasn't there...until I remembered.

The moral of the story:
1. Visit your endocrinologist with regular frequency so they have a record of your ever changing dosing needs
2. Always send your endocrinologist a Christmas card; you never know when you need them to call you long distance to help you out of a jam and call in a prescription to a foreign country
3. make sure you have up to date meds and a back up pump (lesson learned!)
4. Choose a reputable company from which to purchase expensive medical devices (yay! Medtronic!)

Lastly, Medtronic Rocks! 
and of course, love your pancreas.  You never know when it up and ditches you

PS Was super cool to meet a fellow pumper at the Winn Dixie while grocery shopping! We totally started chatting as though we were soldiers in the same war.

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