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Rock N Roll Road Trip with Diabetes

By Naomi Kingery

Social Community Manager

Posted:  2/11/2014 5:17 PM


For the last 13 years, Jonni Lightfoot has been touring the world with diabetes as the bass player and bandleader for the 80’s band, Air Supply. Jonni is away from home about 200 days of the year, spending most of his time travelling to exotic places and performing to sold-out shows on a nightly basis. Today, Jonni joins us to talk about how he manages his diabetes with the MiniMed 530G with Enlite while away from home performing.

There was a time when my sugar levels would skyrocket to the upper 300’s. I would respond by taking some insulin, and would then crash to the low 70’s. I was truly on a roller coaster that was taking my health and life on a horrible ride. Bouncing back and forth from high to low was making it very difficult for me to sleep at night or stay focused during the day. I needed to take action.

I decide to start insulin pump therapy. I had some luck with my first pump, but my A1C was still higher than I wanted it to be. After starting on the new MiniMed 530G with Enlite, my A1C went down to 9.5. Still not ideal, but I’m heading in the right direction.

One of the first things I found using the MiniMed 530G with Enlite was that my glucose levels came down quite a bit. Previously, I would find my levels to be around 200+ during the day and 300+at night, even when I thought it was lower.

The first week on the new system, my levels came down to the high 100’s. Now I know these aren’t awesome levels, but for someone who has been living in the upper 200’s, and even 300’s, this was a huge change, not to mention how great I started feeling. It was not as simple as putting the pump on and, “WHAM”, my levels were perfect. I had another balancing act of getting use to the lows. I needed to find the correct basal rate that worked for me. Within the second week, I found that my levels overnight had dropped drastically, hovering around 120 to 130. This is a huge improvement from the 300+ I had experienced just a few weeks and many years prior.

I have also been experiencing quite a few lows in the 80’s, 70’s and yes, even 60’s and 50’s a few times. That is when I got to see how the Threshold Suspend feature worked. This is a really cool feature. Working with my healthcare team, I decided to set mine to stop delivering insulin when the sensor hits 60. I also set a predictive alert so that my pump will start alarming when the sensor glucose level drops to 70. I really dig this feature, mostly because I did not realize when my sensor glucose levels were low. When the Threshold Suspend feature kicks in, the alarm alerts me that something is wrong. On the flip side, my pump also alerts when my sugars get above a certain level. Both are awesome features that allow me and the people near me to understand my levels.

Now, to give you a little history while writing this blog, I have been on the road with Air Supply for over a month, travelling to Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, and China. We still have Japan and South Korea left before heading home. During the stretch between New Zealand and the Philippines, I took my pump off for about 3 days and just used insulin shots. The first day with the pump off, I felt pretty normal, but when the second day came around, my legs started to ache and my body started to feel bad. What was most surprising to me was realizing this is how I must have felt before wearing the pump. The scary thing is, my body had gotten used to feeling that bad. When I put my MiniMed 530G with Enlite back on again, I could really tell the difference between the bad and good feeling. It’s pretty amazing, and was really an eye opening experience for me.

Important Safety Information
Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is intended for the delivery of insulin and continuous glucose monitoring for the management of diabetes mellitus by persons 16 years of age or older who require insulin.

Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is not intended to be used directly for preventing or treating hypoglycemia but to suspend insulin delivery when the user is unable to respond to the Threshold Suspend alarm and take measures to prevent or treat hypoglycemia themselves.

Warning: The Threshold Suspend feature will cause the pump to temporarily suspend insulin delivery for two hours when the sensor glucose reaches a set threshold. Under some conditions of use the pump can suspend again resulting in very limited insulin delivery. Prolonged suspension can increase the risk of serious hyperglycemia, ketosis, and ketoacidosis. Before using the Threshold Suspend feature, it is important to read the Threshold Suspend information in the MiniMed 530G` System User Guide and discuss proper use of the Threshold Suspend feature with your healthcare provider.

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Launa Brinton

Posted on Tue Feb 11 18:46:58 GMT 2014

You are Such an inspiration! It shows everyone that no matter what your dreams are, diabetes won't stop you. Awesome!!

Cindy Airhead

Posted on Thu Feb 13 16:24:25 GMT 2014

Jonni you are really inspiration for people , and you are idol and hero to yourself as well , I think you are very strong and positive person to dream your dream out so brilliantly and never stop creating great musics . Wish Jonni happy and healthy We all like you and support you .

Maureen McCarron

Posted on Fri Feb 14 16:48:39 GMT 2014

I'd enjoy reading more about how your pump has made international traveling easier for you. I've made a few trips to Europe (from my home in NY) both before & after using a pump/ continuous glucose sensors for diabetes control. The advantages of pump therapy just for traveling alone has made me a pump user for life. However, I've never had trouble with my pump at airport security, have you?

Jonni Lightfoot

Posted on Sat Feb 15 22:36:11 GMT 2014

Hi Maureen. I think the biggest thing that has helped me with traveling with the pump is doing my best to continuously keep in control. There is a little adjustment with the time schedules, so I had to find a basal rate that worked best for all around time changes and even day changes. The Enlite system has been awesome on the long plane flights for checking my levels, but also for not having to excuse myself to test my blood glucose all the time; I can stay in my seat and see where I am trending with my levels. As far as trouble at airport security, I have not had any trouble wearing the pump. I would love to answer any questions you have directly about the pump or traveling.


Posted on Wed Jul 23 19:47:12 GMT 2014

Jonni ~ Have you ever found your BG levels dropping during performances or rehearsals, due to excitement or nervousness? If so, what do you do to recover?

This sort of thing has been a problem for me. But I don't use CGM sensors with my pump.


Terry Katz

Posted on Wed Jul 23 22:19:46 GMT 2014

I have been on the 722 pump for 8 yrs. I get my new one in sept. When my warrenty runs out I get a new one one. I am a fanitic about testing 6 to 8 times a day. It's a pia but it keeps me healthy. 29 yrs with type 1 diabeties.... no problems with my organs as of yet thanks god and all the scientists. my A1C was 8.7 when I started now 5.9. I pray avery night for my family and for my pump to keep me healthy. god bless sex drugs and rock and roll. here's to you Jonni Light foot.


Posted on Wed Jul 23 23:08:44 GMT 2014

Hi Robert, I have never dropped during a show, but i do have glucose tabs with our tour manager and I also have orange juice in the green room just in case. It of course has been a concern, but also during our show i will sometimes take my pump off.

I hope this helps and good luck with your performances!!



Posted on Fri Jul 25 15:34:06 GMT 2014

Hey Jonni,
Wow was I surprised to see you show up in a Medtronic newsletter! We used to work together (sort of) when you were at Wags and I was at Signal. Now 13 years later we're both type 1. I also have two daughters who have it and we're all on Medtronic pumps! It sounds like you are doing great (both with the music and with managing your diabetes). I always remember running into you at the NAMM shows doing product demos and I was always impressed by your ability to get yourself noticed in the right places. Best of luck to you my friend with everything!

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