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What's Your Newbie Pumper Story?

By Amanda Sheldon

Managing Editor

Posted:  2/21/2012 4:54 PM


Have you met Karen Graffeo? You may know her from her blog Bitter~Sweet or her work with her local chapter of JDRF (if you live in New England) or from the very successful Diabetes Blog Week, which Karen created and now organizes each May. We love Karen’s positive attitude about life and diabetes (even when times are hard) and, with more than 30 years with Type 1 Diabetes, she has a lot of valuable experience to share. So, we thought we’d ask her to do a series of guest posts here at The LOOP.

She’s kicking us off with a funny story about a call to the HelpLine during what she calls her “newbie pumper” days. Sometimes our customers receive pump training and we don’t hear from them (except to order supplies) until it’s time to order their next pump. Some, like Karen, have lots of questions for us when they start on a pump. Others are somewhere in between. No matter your situation, you can count on the fact our HelpLine staff are here to help and have heard it all – no matter where the beeping is coming from!

When I started pumping, I definitely fell into the “nervous about my new technology” category.  There were many times I called Medtronic’s 24-Hour HelpLine freaking out!  My newbie-pumper majorly-over-reacting moments included:
• “Oh my gosh, there are tiny bubble in my tubing!  What do I do?”
•  “Aaaaahhh, my tubing got squished in my pocket and the pump gave me a No Delivery error!  What do I do?” 
• “I disconnected my pump to shower and now I can’t get it to snap back on!  What do I do?” 

Each time I called, whether the problem was minor or not, the HelpLine was calm and reassuring. The reps took the time to talk me through problem solving and to run any diagnostic tests needed.

But the occasion that really makes me want to give Medtronic Customer Service a gold star (and a big hug) happened shortly after I upgraded to the Paradigm Revel. About three days in, I heard the familiar beeps that report an error status.  But when I looked at the pump, there wasn’t an error message. This continued for over an hour, with beeps every 10 minutes or so, until I finally called the HelpLine in dismay. After listening to my panicked report of what was going on, the service rep asked me if I still had my old pump. And the rest of the conversation went like this:

CS Rep: Okay, can you get your old pump please.
Me: Sure, it's in a box right behind me.
CS Rep: Does it still have a battery in it?
Me: Yes, it does.  (At his point, I was cringing inside because I was sure he was going to tell me I needed to send my awesome new pump back and use my old pump until my Paradigm Revel could be replaced.)
CS Rep: Are there any error messages on your old pump?
Me: Yes, there is a Low Reservoir warning.  There is no reservoir in it but the pump doesn't know that and it thinks it's out of insulin.
CS Rep: Okay, what we often find is that an old pump is beeping with an error, and customers think it is the new pump beeping. Actually nothing is wrong with your Revel, you are just hearing the alarm from your old pump.
Me:  Now that you mention it, the beeping started after I came into the room where my old pump is. Oh my goodness, I'm such a dope! Ummm, thank you for your help.

To this day I don’t know how the rep didn’t laugh his head off at my silly mistake, but I’m thankful for his help and kindness!

- 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.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling 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.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- 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 treatment.
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

Please visit for complete safety information.


Judith Atwood

Posted on Wed Feb 22 00:39:20 GMT 2012

Great story. My worst newbie mistake came only a couple of days after I switched from saline solution to insulin in my Paradigm Revel. When the time came to change thee setup, I followed every rule and recommendation I'd received, until the time came to attach the pump to my body. I could not get the adhesive pad covers of the pad itself. I managed to do something or other to screw up four sets, and I was beside myself. Finally, I called a guy at work who wears a pump, and asked him to come over and help me -- my hands were shaking so hard, I didn't trust myself to do it. He came over, asked me what the problem was. I picked up one of the ruined setups, and showed him how I couldn't get those little covers off the adhesive pad. He smiled, took it from me, and pulled the tab of the adhesive in the direction it was supposed to be pulled! I was, in effect, tightening the covers on the pad, by pulling toward the tube instead of away from the adhesive. I could have died, but he just laughed, and said mistakes like that were very common for new pump users. Boy, was my face red!

Jeanine Lore

Posted on Fri Mar 09 19:03:27 GMT 2012

Great story!

Nicole Dobbs

Posted on Wed May 30 02:17:20 GMT 2012

I have called the help line several times since I got my pump Friday. I have had diabetes since I was 8 ,25 now, and have tried to find the right site for me to be comfortable sleeping and bending and doing activities I have three kids so this is important . I had it on my side and that was okay but am now trying it 3 inches above my belly button and 6 inches to the side where it is right below where my natural bend is so again I am going to call the help line to see if it being at the natural bend even though my canual itself doesnt look to bend when I bend if the pressure from the above bending will bend it lol they are going to know me by name all of them but they deserve a bunch of gold stars!

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