t:slim touch screen

I mentioned in my first impressions of the t:slim that I was underwhelmed by the responsiveness of the touch screen. However, I want to add that I am thoroughly impressed that I can operate the pump while wearing gloves. And not those special conductive gloves you need to use your iPhone, but regular gloves that render my iPhone useless.

I’ve been attributing this (both traits actually) to there being a different touch mechanism in play with the pump verses the iphone.  An iPhone is a multi touch system that uses a capacitive material to sense touch.  This material is only activated by conductive materials (like your finger or a conductive glove) and most gloves (ie insulation) stop those signals from transmitting.

The t:slim seems to sense touch via pressure via a resistive screen. This means that it only registers a single touch at a time (which is all we need to operate a pump) and can be activated by anything capable of delivering pressure, be it conductive or insulating, thus there is no need for conductive gloves.

I haven’t taken the time to seek out Tandem’s patents or specs to know if I’m right (maybe someone else has this info?) so I certainly could be wrong.  I’m just glad that I won’t have to purchase special gloves (!).

I hate needing special equipment to use my special equipment!

More info on how touch screens work, etc: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/iphone.htm


T:slim – first impressions

It’s Thanksgiving and today I’m thankful for life-sustaining medical technology that’s also nice to look at and easy to use. My new touch screen pancreas t:slim insulin pump arrived on Tuesday and after 24 hours of patience, I ran out. So I opened the box, unwrapped my new toy durable medical equipment and began my d-life again without the hassle of dialing in carbs and BG values. It’s been a measly 18 hours since I first plugged her in (name pending) but I’ve already identified a few pros and cons about the newest member if my diabetes team. Since today’s a holiday I’m leaving this post in bullets but I assure you I’ll do my best to update this post as my experience with the t:slim evolves.

• Touch screen!!! Hello 21st century.
• Back button and Home button
• Bolus calculator – as in “I had 10+6+32+1+7g of carbs, bolus please!”
• Pretty, shines, modern, relatively small
• Copy/paste basal program – build a new basal program without having to start from scratch.
• Basal program includes ISF, I:C, and target BG
• I:C can be entered in half grams
• IOB on home screen
• 75 xtra units – see cons for explanation.
• Great history menu includes entered BGs, blouses split by type and if the calculated dose was overridden.

Cons Less awesome things:
• Touch screen less responsive than I expected
• 9 button key pad, as in three letters per button. But you only need this for naming basal programs so who really cares?
• Very slow priming and insulin delivery. Ugh!
• Only corrects for low blood sugars under 60 so I need to be a bit more conscious when dosing food with lower BGs
• Clip is a bit poorly placed on the case – only slightly north of center so the pump hangs forward while clipped to my pocket.
• Leur lock connector in awkward position and I can’t seem to hide it.
• Uses close to 50u to ready cartridge and prime 23in tube ( as opposed to about 25 for the ping) so the xtra 100 units I fill are really only and extra 75.

• Wall charger – I was directly connected to the grid for about 10 min this morning
• Multiple confirmation screens before bolus initiates.

And that’s all I got for now.

Dexcom Skin, sort of

After stumbling upon this thread at TuDiabetes, I went ahead and purchased an Insignia Pilot silicon case for my new G4 Dex.  The dimensions of each are pretty similar (Dex G4 = 101.6 x 45.72 x 12.7 mm, Insignia = 100.0 x 49.20 x 11.1 mm) and each has a rectangular screen with circular controls.  I held the G4 receiver up to the screen to visually compare, and I figured the circles wouldn’t line up perfectly, but it looked like they’d be pretty damn close.   (I’d also like to note that I ordered this one specifically, and it came with a second case in black, pictured, and a removable belt clip and arm band all for only $4.87!)

Dexcom G4 in Insignia Pilot case

Close, but not good enough!

As you can see in he photo, the alignment is somewhat worse tan I had hoped for.  I lived with it this way for about a week, and then this happened:

Dexcom G$ receiver in modified Insignia Pilot case

Take that!

The result is a somewhat wonky solution that adds traction to the receiver so it stays firmly planted in my jeans pocket, and cushions it a bit when it does manage to fall.  Since the case is made for an entirely different device, and I’ve cropped out a bit of the structure, the receiver is very easily removed, but that doesn’t really bother me.  Plus there’s the added bonus of a conveniently located window perfectly framing the charging port.

Dexcom G4 receiver in Insignia Pilot case

Another happy coincidence.

I’m still hoping Dexcom will get there act together and sell a snugly fitting case designed just for this receiver.  But until then, this may be the perfect solution.

G4 Platinum (aka The One with Terrible Photography)

I have nothing but love for my new G4 Platinum Dexcom system.  Here are a few bulleted points on the matter:

  • Smoother lines.  I’ve seen some discussion in the DOC about the new Dexcom varying from the old.  Personally, I see this as a plus.  If the new behaved exactly like the old I would assume that no improvements had been made.  The pic below shows the same 24 hour period (7+ on my arm, G4 on my thigh) and you do see differences in the graphs.  Looking at these from a purely analytical standpoint I would conclude that they are presenting me with the same data, but the G4 has a better signal to noise ratio yielding a smoother and more accurate graph (I can’t, however, say for certain if this is due to differences in sensor placement if it is real).

How’s this for a double (almost) no-hitter!

  • The wire is visibly narrower (sorry no picture) which means a more comfortable insertion/wearing experience.
  • I ❤ the color screen (aside from being somewhat more difficult to read in the sun):

Yay for color screens!

  • Smaller – fits more discretely in my pocket.
  • No silicon cases therefore, more likely to slip out of my pocket.  This is a bit of a problem but will hopefully not result in a receiver in the toilet incident anytime soon.
  • Back to accuracy:  G4 – 140 mg/dL; 7+ – 142 mg/dL; Freestyle – 144 mg/dL (taken about 8 hours post-calibration in the AM).  Can’t complain.


  • Getting new D-gadgets makes me a better diabetic (at least for a little while)…


  • Can anyone tell me what the right arrow button is there for??  I’m certain that I have not once had reason to push the left arrow.  This irks me.

Eye Opening

Those closest to me know of my obsession with all things NPR. I listen to the local station on my way to and from work and I listen to This American Life, RadioLabs, Wait Wait…, and Studio 360 podcasts on my iPod throughout the day.  A few months back, I went to a live broadcast of a special episode of This American Life called “Invisible Made Visible” during which Ryan Knighton tells the story of when his young daughter first fully understood what it means that her dad is blind.  The segment I want you to hear is in Act 1 of the show so I recommend you hop on over and listen to it now (or read Act 1 in the transcript).  I’ll wait.

Pretty great, right?  I especially teared up at the moment, when Tess says so matter of factly that Papa doesn’t see and she so aptly points out that Mama does see, and asks earnestly whether Tess sees like Mama.  At this moment I thought forward in my life to when I have my own child.   I imagine us sitting down to dinner and a conversation going something like this:

We are sitting in the kitchen and I ask the kiddo to pass me a cookie and she does. And I reach for it and and grab my pump from my side at the same time.

And she says, “Mama has diabetes!” And I’ll think, that’s what I’ve been saying!

And we’ll say “Yes, Kiddo. Mama has diabetes.” And then she’ll have to check.

“Papa doesn’t have diabetes.”

And we’ll say, “No, Papa doesn’t have diabetes..”

And she’ll say, “Kiddo doesn’t have diabetes?”

And we’ll say, “No, Kiddo does not have diabetes.”

And some time later, we will be at a restaurant and as our food is arriving,  Kiddo will grab my hand and put it on my pump and she’ll finally understand the connection.

~~Stolen/adapted from Ryan’s words

While diabetes and blindness are drastically different beasts, I sat listening to Ryan Knighton feeling a bit like a kindred spirit.  We are both different; we both have something in our lives that effects they way we interact with the world but is barely visible at a glance.  Someday I will have to figure out how much of my difference becomes my child’s concern and how to make her understand..

For more laughter-inducing and heart-warming words from Ryan Knighton, check out his books or his blog.  You won’t regret it.