“Does your pump malfunction often?” my Pharmacist asked…

Recently, I found myself at the pharmacy, filling my prescription for long-acting insulin. My doctor had noted on the script, “in case of pump malfunction, inject daily.” As a user of the Medtronic Minimed 780G insulin pump, my daily routine doesn’t typically include long-acting insulin. The pump’s role is to continuously supply me with short-acting insulin, which negates the need for its long-acting counterpart. However, should my pump encounter any issues, I’d have to revert to manually injecting insulin. The standard fallback plan involves long-acting insulin for basal needs and short-acting insulin, like NovoLog or Humalog, for mealtime boluses. Without long-acting insulin, I would be required to inject short-acting insulin every four hours or so, disrupting sleep and adding significant stress to managing my diabetes.

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Having a backup of long-acting insulin, like Tresiba, is a practice I’ve adopted for peace of mind. When my pharmacist inquired about the frequency of pump malfunctions, I was glad to share that, fortunately, my pump has been incredibly reliable. In my four years of using a Medtronic Minimed Insulin Pump (first the 670G and now the 780G), I’ve experienced no significant issues with the pump itself. There was a singular incident involving the transmitter, which led to the sensor’s temporary failure, requiring me to switch to manual mode for a few days. Nonetheless, even during that period, the pump effectively delivered insulin.

Staying Prepared for the Unknowns…

But my reasons for keeping an extra supply of long-acting insulin extend beyond potential pump failures. Considering the broader scope of emergencies, like natural disasters or conflicts, the importance of being prepared becomes even more evident. This is especially true in areas experiencing turmoil, such as war-torn regions in Gaza, Ukraine, and other conflict zones. For people living with diabetes in these areas, the challenges are magnified. The assurance of having a sufficient insulin supply, capable of sustaining them through periods where access to medical supplies might be hindered, is crucial. In such situations, having a stock of both long-acting and short-acting insulin could be life-saving.

The difference between these insulins is significant in managing diabetes. Long-acting insulins like Tresiba are designed to provide a steady level of insulin over an extended period, typically 24 hours (in Tresiba’s case, 42 hours). This helps in maintaining a consistent basal insulin level. Short-acting insulins, such as NovoLog or Humalog, act much faster and are used to manage blood sugar spikes, particularly during meals. They are usually taken just before eating to counteract the rapid increase in blood glucose levels post-meal.

In conclusion, while I trust my Medtronic Minimed 780G Insulin Pump for its reliability and efficiency in insulin delivery, the pragmatist in me understands the importance of being prepared for any scenario. Keeping a backup of long-acting insulin isn’t just a safety net for pump malfunctions; it’s a necessary measure for ensuring continuous diabetes management in any situation, be it a personal device issue or a larger-scale emergency. In the end, it’s about being prepared for the unknown.


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