The alarm settings on my insulin pump are highly configurable. Yet, too many alarms is one of the top complaints by insulin pump users. I encourage you to work with your healthcare provider in changing the settings on your insulin pump if the alarms are an issue. Here’s what I’ve changed recently.
Silence the Alarm Before it Happens…
You know that after dinner alarm that happens because the glucose from the food hit your bloodstream before the insulin had time to take effect? Yeah, happens to me too. My Medtronic 670G Insulin Pump allows me to temporarily silence the high alarms, and I regularly do so for a period of 1 hour. The red light will still flash, but it won’t vibrate or sound. Why get interrupted with a noisy notification if I’m just waiting for the bolus insulin to kick it?
Special Settings for Night time
I really value my sleep, and therefore, I have somewhat different settings for the night hours. Right now the difference is that I have it alert me on a high, instead of the predictive 20 minutes early alarm. I may adjust this a bit more because I dislike being on the high side while sleeping. It is definitely a balance between getting enough uninterrupted sleep and making sure my blood glucose stays at an ideal level. Not snacking before bed and eating dinner three hours before bed do both help with not dealing with night time highs. (I still snack too much in the evening, though. But, I try.)
Being OK with getting bumped out of Auto Mode
This Medtronic Minimed 670G Insulin Pump has a pretty amazing auto mode (I hear that the 780G will even have a better algorithm!). However, for Auto Mode to stay in Auto Mode, it requires more frequent blood glucose readings. In particular, it will prompt for a blood glucose if you’re needing less or more than typical amounts of insulin (compared to your recent history). This can be super annoying. I disabled this setting which is called “Auto Mode BG Alert” and I wrote about this setting in a previous blog post.
The consequence is that it doesn’t alert me if it needs a blood glucose to stay in auto mode. Occasionally, it will bump me out of Auto Mode if it doesn’t receive a BG. So far, this actually has only happened once… Other times, it must have decided it was safe to stay in auto mode without my input! The one time it did bump me out of auto mode, I woke up with a higher glucose than I would have liked. Now, that’s causing me to consider lowering the night time threshold for the high alarms. Trade offs everywhere!
Disabling the Calibration Required notification
I haven’t yet done this, but sure have considered it. If it’s going to require calibration like an hour or two before I awake, what difference if I sleep through it and calibrate it when I wake up in the morning? Sure, it means that I won’t see the CGM when I wake up, but I can do a blood glucose test and then calibrate it. If I have my manual mode basal rates set OK, it won’t make any difference.
Don’t “set it and forget it”
My diabetes trainer actually set the high alarm at a very high number. I lowered it because I’m really driven to keep my blood glucose in an ideal range. I find that being notified sooner makes it easier to deal with and less stressful. However, what I find acceptable has changed with time and I think it’s worth fine tuning as things change.
I found that getting an insulin pump is like getting a new puppy.
You train it and it trains you. And then you learn to live in harmony. As you and the puppy grow, your desires and experience change, and you may want to change your alarm settings.