Monday, July 16, 2012

Friends For Life: Trialing The Tandem t:slim.

It's been said by someone much more clever than I that Friends For Life is like Comic-Con for diabetes. (I've never been to Comic-Con, but from what I can gather, it seems to be a fair comparison.) For at least five days out of your year, you can feel "normal": everyone checks their blood sugar; you can both fist bump and pump bump your friends; the whole diabetes experience (and all that goes with it) becomes typical, instead of unique. 

Part of what is also rad about Diabetes-Con Friends For Life is the exhibit hall area, and how many vendors are there with answers, free samples, and an ability to try things out before you have to make a commitment. This year, Tandem Diabetes had a large presence in the hall (and an atmosphere that felt decidedly less "medical device" and more upscale retail space) and offered attendees the ability to trial their new touchscreen t:slim pump for a 24-hour period during the conference, provided you called in ahead of time to reserve a spot.

I figured this was as good a time as any to give this gizmo a go. After an hour-long orientation/Q&A/me not being able to keep up with the rapid pace on Tuesday afternoon, I had a t:slim to play around with.

These + Dexcom receiver = SO MUCH HARDWARE.

A better side-by-side comparison.

I definitely didn't learn everything there is to know about owning, using, or otherwise experiencing a t:slim in that 24 hours: the pump was never actually connected to me, nor did I get to do a set/cartridge change or charge the battery. That said, I did get to scroll through whatever menus I wanted, set basal and insulin to carb ratios, administer "boluses" (I think the thing was just filled with water), stop and start insulin delivery, and test-run all sorts of other features.

Long story short? I like it. I like it a whole bunch. Once you get a hang of where everything is, you realize just how intuitively and intelligently it's laid out. I like that it can hold 300u versus the 200u my Ping can manage. I like that it has a safety mechanism that, should something go terribly, horribly wrong, prevents the pump from accidentally administering a large dose of unwanted insulin. (The most it could give "by accident" is .3u.) The top of the pump doesn't have that screw-on cap, and instead has tubing coming directly out of the pump - which then has a connector further down the line. (You know how sometimes if you're wearing a pump on your waistband and then sit down, that cap kind of digs into your side/stomach? This eliminates that.) Thoughtful!

The one issue I did have was with the touch screen - maybe it was just my fingers, or the Florida heat, or who knows what... but there were a few times where I had to touch the screen three to five times before it would register the contact. I mean, it eventually recognized my action, but it wasn't as responsive as I would have liked. And if that only happens every once in a while? Maybe that's a manageable amount of "ugh".

I'm not due for a new pump until the end of next year, and who knows what will come through the FDA by then to change my mind... but for now, the t:slim has me impressed.

Disclosure: There's actually no need for a disclosure. At no point in talking with the Tandem folks did I mention that I write a blog, or any of that... as far as they were concerned (I think?), I was just another adult PWD. And until I tag them on Twitter when I publish this post, they also don't know I'm writing a review. Bazinga!


  1. I like that this thing looks like an ipod--it's a little more discreet. Of course, most people think my ping is an MP3 player as it is.

  2. I have problems with every touchscreen I come across in "real life". Could this have to do with the ridiculous amount of scar tissue we have from finger sticks?

    1. You know, I had never thought of that! You might be onto something!

  3. That looks pretty cool. I'm old school though and sort of prefer buttons over touchscreens. The only reason I have a touchscreen/fancy/smart phone is because it came with a slideout keyboard.

    A completely off-subject question, but is that a wallet in the background? It's adorable! Where did you get it?

    1. Hi Lindsay! It's a Fossil "cosmetic case", but I find that they work very well as meter/diabetes crap bags. :)

  4. I want to be able to think about a bolus and it does it. I am just next level I guess! S***

    Honestly, I really want one. They looks snazzy and I am all aboot the snaz.

    and I am Canadian today, eh.

  5. I didn't trail one because I just got my new pump so I'm not even able to think about switching for another 4 years, and I felt people such as you who have warranties ending sooner should get those trial slots. But I did get a demo from the reps in the expo hall, and it was pretty darn cool!! I'm excited to see something very different on the market, because it feels like a step forward for all of us.

  6. This is one of the best reviews I've read, Kim.

    I like it, too.

    And I really like the side-by-side comparison photos you've got. Really puts it into context.

    But while the t:slim looks really really cool, there's just too much it doesn't have in this first generation that I'm wanting before a pump switch: CGM capability and wireless linking to meter(s). There's also the fact that I kind of like the buttons, too.

    Yes, Tandem (like many others) have teamed up with Dexcom to get that tech integrated down the road. That's all peachy keen. But what I haven't heard from them or anyone, is if there might be an upgrade process... so if you get one, will you be able to upgrade should the next generation come out with the integration? That could convince me (and probably many others) to go for the buy now, rather than waiting for next generation or going with a different pump/CGM combo that comes out first.

    Thanks again for this, Kim.

  7. I also heard from one of the blogs, that once you get it, it is yours. That there is no 30 day trial period and rerun if it doesn't jive with you guaranty.

  8. Hi Cozmo just cracked (the threaded part that the screw top attaches to), and it was 5 years old (been waiting for something new to come along) I just put in my paperwork for a t:slim!!!

  9. I love the face that it doesnt look like a medical device. With a little guy(uhum, 11 is still little to me)... I would worry about cracking the screen. I think us switching would have a whole lot to do with warranty.

    1. lora,

      the tadem people told us that some of the kids that participated in the trail tried their best to break the t-slims. there were stories about them plunging them underwater and dropping them on the pool deck and smashing them into each other. i think one broke, but it was under those extreme circumstances. just some anecdata for ya.


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