Monday, June 21, 2010

Trial and error: Me and my new Medtronic Revel insulin pump

It all started with a phone call one evening after a long day at work, a sales call actually, from a Medtronic representative. “You are eligible for an upgrade,” she said, “You’ve had your pump for over four years. Medtronic has come out with the new Revel, an upgrade from the Minimed.”

The second generation hath cometh.

Sigh. I was totally zoning out in front of the TV, and I kicked myself to pay attention. I was so not in the mood to speak with sales associates at that moment. I asked the necessary questions, and then told her that I wanted to look into it. I’d get back to her.

I remember the confusion when I first went on the pump in 2006. Which pump do I choose? Back then, I was debating between the Minimed Paradigm and the Animas, a waterproof model where you can store hundreds of carbohydrate food amounts and not have to research or remember how many carbs are in a carrot or a piece of chocolate cake.

And yet, I chose the Minimed Paradigm 522. They were on the cutting edge of technological advancements, had just come out with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which monitors your blood sugar levels every five minutes and then communicates them with your pump.

The only integrated system on the diabetes market.

So I chose technology over what I deemed as convenience. And I always wondered...did I make the right choice? I went through the CGM training. But I never really got into it.

My confession: I don’t use the CGM. The needle is too big and painful for my taste. The CGM also sounds alarms every time sugars drop or rise above a certain range. That’s fine, actually that’s good, but I would often find that the numbers weren’t accurate after doing a manual glucose check. So I would be awakened at 3 am with a supposed 240 BG, when actually my BG was more like 86.

This drove me mad, bonkers, frustrated! I packed the CGM in a box, still sitting in my closet, always wondering if I should just suck it up and put the darned thing on.

Opportunity had arisen once again. I can make the switch. Freedom from CGM pressure! Maybe I can go in a pool with a pump! Now, there’s the OmniPod, the Animas Ping, and who knows what else? I know nothing about them!

And I still don’t!

Instead, I began by researching the Revel. I called Dr. W and asked for his opinion. He gave it a thumbs up. I read on-line reviews. Thank you, Amy of Diabetes Mine, who posted a review by Techie Type 1 blogger Scott Hanselman. I learned about new features such as better charting and alarms, showing active insulin more often to help eliminate insulin stacking, and the ability to bolus in .025 increments, an improvement over the Minimed’s .05 increments.

And I asked for a brochure, which the sales representative sent right over via e-mail. And there it was, on a PDF, that darned integrated system again: “The 3 Key Elements of Effective Diabetes Management”.

1) Insulin Delivery
2) Continuous Glucose Monitoring
3) Therapy Adjustment

Sigh. It sells me every time. The responsible thing to do. Be as effective as I can be to monitor and adjust, trial and error, living and learning. That’s what the Revel is all about. And quite frankly, that’s how I live my life.

Living and learning. Trial and error. Monitor and adjust. It’s called living a self-aware life – and then doing something about it – to make your life better.

I started my new Revel pump on Saturday after an hour and a half Medtronic webinar and audio teleconference training for experienced pump users. The words trial and error came up at least five times. Now I can capture events like exercise or eating pizza, download it to my computer, and then see how it affects my blood sugars and make adjustments accordingly.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that with life too? Capture the events in our lives, download them to our computer into graphs and charts, and see how we would do it differently next time, or keep it all the same because whatever we did actually worked? An integrated system for living a self-aware life? Catching our patterns on screen and then being able to adjust with a few clicks of a button?

Perhaps the Revel can teach all of us how to revel in life - by being aware of our patterns and using that information to take action? Because it's all a matter of trial and error.


  1. I have pump envy! It's like your neighbor getting the newest, biggest TV. Please keep us updated with how it goes, and good luck!

  2. "Integrated system for living a self-aware life." That's one of the reasons we blog, no?

    I love my Dexcom, and wouldn't switch to Minimed if you paid me, I've just heard too much about innacuracy.

    Well...maybe if you PAID me.

    But I hope the new system works better for you. Good luck with it!

  3. I have been using the Medtronic pump for about four years now, first using the Paradigm 722, and three months ago I received the Revel 723 - guess what, I hate the new pump! There is an old Marianne Faithfull song (different words) that keeps running in my head - "why'd ya do it", why'd did ya mess with my pump.
    For a long term "pumper" the new device is positively dangerous, especially those of us who have used the pump for so long we no longer look at the screen when we bolus. New nag screens (ala Microsoft Vista), with the requirement to answer "Yes/ No" to each action have caused me to miss boluses. New error messages such as "Motor Error" confuse everything, additional counter-intuitive steps to get to key functions, make this edition of the pump horrible to use.
    Worse, Medtronic should have provided the ability to flash upgrade the software, but they did not. I, for one, am going back to my old 722, and will return the Revel 723 to Medtronic. I definitely will not donate the 723 to some poor sucker; I would rather run the pump over with my car to put it out of its misery.

    1. Just got one and I totally agree with you... unfortunayley for me my 722 broke and now they're tellimg me that they won't even sell me a 722 what a duche bag company!!!

  4. Your post was not only useful, but it was full of humanity. I really enjoyed this phrase: "Sigh. It sells me every time. The responsible thing to do." Excellent writing! Thanks...