It’s been four weeks since we switched from

the Animas OneTouch Ping to the Omnipod insulin pump. We like it for the most part, but there are some issues that require serious attention as we believe the majority of Podders may not even be aware of the matter. That will be discussed along with a comparison between the Ping and the Pod and a list of the Pods pros and cons. This particular article is not meant to stray or convince anyone to make any decisions about going from MDI to pumping or selecting the Omnipod in general. It is primarily for informative, experiential purposes and always focused on what we feel is best for our precious Coral.

So far, the most pertinent issue we’ve discovered is the lack of insulin delivery accuracy. This is largely due to the multiple plastic parts in the Pod itself (see Figure A below). Not necessarily due to any foods, absorption, or hormones. We know this because we’ve been logging her BGs, doses, basals, and carbs with the Dexcom G5 in collaboration with the Sugarmate app. More so, “plastic tends to flex and is not as precise as metal parts like that of the Animas,” my husband informed me this morning after he pried open one of Coral’s used Pods with his sharp pocket knife instead of using a Dremel like Dr. Sergei Skorobogatov, Senior Research Analyst at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. Skorobogatov cleanly dissects and describes the internal mechanical parts of the pod and PDM in his research paper here.

Figure A: Exposed Pod showing internal batteries (3 along left side), cannula, plastic motor with encoder attached (lower right corner) and reservoir (top right corner)
Figure B: Bottom exposed circuit board of Pod also showing insulin reservoir at right corner

If there are any flexing or bending of the plastic motor and gears, it could possibly result in not getting the precise amount that a Type 1 diabetic is bolusing for leading to hyperglycemia for carbs uncovered and the dreaded climbing stubborn high BG. This would likely require either a desperate shot of fast-acting insulin to the thigh or an early pump change which is typically done every 2 to 3 days regardless of which type of pump one is using in order to prevent severe hyperglycemia which can lead to diabetes ketoacidosis in a matter of hours (varies per individual). See how we change her Omnipod @type1diabetic_life’s IGTV channel on Instagram.

For those who don’t know, my husband has a PhD in Physics, previously worked as a medical researcher and professor at University of Hawaii. He has also studied brain development and brain cancer in both adults and adolescents. He is currently a Lead Engineer at one of the major hardware companies in the U.S. His recent high-tech projects include, but not limited to, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, and non-invasive glucometers.
“So,why doesn’t Omnipod use metal parts?” I asked him. It’s likely they’re aware of such poor engineering, but prefer to save on costs and maybe milligrams of weight added to the pod. Which is very disappointing and not exactly worth a phone call to an Omnipod tech support supervisor [at this time anyways]. Especially when my husband is more knowledgeable in this area. I’m just very good at researching with his help of throwing out some key words in the Google search engine.
Another concern of ours is the inability to prime out any existing air bubbles once the Pod is on her body. Whereas with the Animas, I could inspect her tubing for any air bubbles, disconnect her at the site, and prime the bubbles out of the tube using the pumps functions. Normal everyday wear and possibly bumping the pump onto things will sometimes cause even the Animas to build up bubbles within its reservoir. Now, imagine how many bubbles may be building up in the Pod which has an even smaller reservoir, always attached to her body. We only place it on her arms or legs for now until she grows bigger.
Next, when comparing the Animas to the Pod, we truly enjoyed having the ability to adjust her basals in the smallest of increments of 0.025 versus the Pod at only 0.05 Units. This can have a notable effect on someone Coral’s age who does not require a lot of insulin at certain times such as fasting during naps and overnight or exerting lots of physical energy – which burns glucose fast causing her BG to drop quickly. To compensate for this, we’re constantly using temp basals to increase or decrease her insulin needs at various times as needed. We’re also noticing it’s taking a lot more effort just to keep her BGs more steady overnight and in range between 80-150 mg/dL. Meaning, I’ve been more sleep-deprived than usual this past month alone.
Furthermore, we dislike how the cannula of the Pod is inserted at a 45 degree angle versus a 90 degree or straight-in like that of the Animas Inset Infusion set. See the exact model we use for Coral here. This causes a reddish lump upon removal of the Pod and needs tentative care to prevent any skin infections. We use the same method of removal for Pods as we do for her Dexcom with 1) Unisolve wipes, 2) Witch Hazel wipes, 3) fan dry completely, and 4) apply topical treatment of antibacterial ointment with 1% hydrocortisone cream to skin. We follow-up skin treatment with vitamin E oil two to three times daily to prevent scarring and promote faster healing. All items can be bought on Amazon.
Other than that, we’re feeling more “stuck” than satisfied in keeping the Pod. This seems like the best fit for now since the only other options in the current U.S. market are the Tandem T-slim or Medtronic. The tubing never bothered Coral anyways so that wasn’t a major selling point for us when deciding on the Omnipod. After meeting and/or speaking with adult T1ds using the T-slim, we’re glad we didn’t decide to go through the whole order processing and insurance hurdle (still under Animas warranty until about 2021) since it constantly loses signal leaving you repeatedly checking your BG either with a fingerstick value or reaching for your phone for the Dexcom app. If this is the case with both G5 and G6, please kindly leave your first-hand experience within the comments section. However, we did enjoy our meeting with a Tandem Diabetes rep, but it simply will not suit ours and Coral’s specific needs since it lacks a remote or PDM (personal diabetes manager). Furthermore, T:slims lowest basal setting is 0.100U even when a temp decrease is set from what her endo suggested. Meaning, we would just have to put it into suspend mode as needed until her BG was back up in range.
As for Medtronic, we had an extremely upsetting and unacceptable experience with their so-called customer service once they took over all Animas customer accounts. Our order was canceled, I never received notice, leaving me to call them multiple times until I was able to speak with a supervisor directly; who finally shipped our Animas order out after three weeks conversation time. Downright bullsh*t. What made the situation even worse, was Coral’s previous endo at CHLA (main campus) didn’t fully complete the new prescription request from Medtronic – all she had to do was check the right box for how often we change her pump! This delayed our order even longer. When it comes to my baby girl, I have no tolerance for indiscrepancies like those.

Pros and Cons of the Omnipod

This list will also include the main issues I’ve addressed above:

Future of Omnipod

The Omnipod DASH System is anticipated for full commercial release in early 2019. It’s intended to streamline diabetes workflow and management with the following features (provided by Omnipod rep via printout):
  • A sleeker PDM with intuitive, color touch-screen interface for easy discreet insulin delivery with little amount of clicks
    • However, you will no longer be able to use the new PDM to check BGs since it will be integrated with Dexcom G6
    • The new PDM may NOT be water-resistant either
  • Bluetooth – enabled Pod for connectivity with the PDM and use with the Contour NextOne blood glucose meter instead of Freestyle – which we prefer
  • CalorieKing food library
  • Ability to set zero basal rates and fractional carb ratios to allow for more precise dosing of insulin
  • Multiple mobile applications for users to see critical Omnipod DASH System information on their iOS smartphone such as Omnipod VIEW, Omnipod DISPLAY, and Today View Widget.

Visit the FAQs on myomnipod.com for updates on DASH launch status and more related info.

Other benefits to look forward to are literally just over the Horizon with Omnipods trial program. The Horizon System is a hybrid closed-loop platform in current development. See if you’re eligible for their clinical trial here. It’s also rumored that several next-generation systems will be compatible for a closed-loop system with Dexcom 7 Plus. Date TBD of course. Also, a smaller pod with the same technical features that will have the ability to deliver multiple compounds. I think it’s safe to say that we ALL want a smaller, sleeker, discreet “smart” Pod.The OmniPod platform also lends itself to many other uses such as a delivery mechanism for an infertility drug in Europe by Ferring Corporation. Other potential applications include pain management, chemotherapeutic agents, AIDS, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis drugs; biologics; thyroid, growth hormones, and related peptides; as well as in-hospital uses.

We’re not necessarily looking to the pump company that can provide us with a CLS the fastest, but with the most accuracy, easy interface, highest safety ratings and dependability. We make sure that cost will never be an issue for our little Coral’s medical needs. Although a cure may never come to market because of crooked greedy pharmaceuticals, we can surely stay hopeful for new diabetes technology to make this T1dLife less burdensome. When that day happens, we’ll be ready for it and you can expect more honest, practical, and thorough reviews in the future.
Mahalo for reading and please share with your diabuddies,
Shelsea
Instagram: @type1diabetic_life
Facebook: @typeonediabeticlife
Shop: Zazzle.com/t1dlife

Sources:

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. “The OmniPod Insulin Management System: the latest innovation in insulin pump therapy.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118276/. (Accessed: 1st September 2018).
Skorobogatov, Sergei. “Deep Dip Teardown of Tubeless Insulin Pump.” https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Deep-dip-teardown-of-tubeless-insulin-pump-Skorobogatov/cb4904d2633e28877124156041b4d15625c478ea. (Accessed: 1st September 2018).
Omnipod Insulet Corp. “Research and Clinical Trials.” https://www.myomnipod.com/healthcareproviders/clinical-resources/research. (Accessed 1st September 2018).

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More resources about insulin pumps:


DISCLAIMER AND NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Lately, there have been a ton of internet trolls on my Instagram accounts thinking they’re entitled to their own opinions commenting on MY posts. It’s only a “two-way” street if both parties can back up their so-called opinions with valid, sufficient, educated information as I always do and will continue to do so. With that said, think about what you’re going to say before entering my “domain.” Remember, this Blog and my social media accounts are my platforms entitling me and only me, to my own opinions. Either be supportive or stop and educate yourself. Also, nothing on this blog or any of my platforms are meant to be taken as medical advice. Always seek counsel from your doctor or call 911 for an emergency. Typeonediabetic-life.com is in no way sponsored by Omnipod or any of the brands you see featured here or on its social media account.

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