Tag Archives: Medtronic

Medtronic Global Heroes Part 2: Science!!!

About 15 years ago I met a couple of gals, who I kid you not spent an entire summer trying to convince me that science was the coolest thing on the planet. I was a hard sell; after a lack lustre experience with it in high school, and an eye for the words, I never imagined science to be anything more than something I had to do. (Little did I know then that it would turn into my life journey.) Had those gals had the Medtronic Headquarters at their fingertips, they may have had a bit more success of shooting science love into my heart!

On day two of being a Global Hero, my new besties and I toured the Medtronic facility. Holy freaking hell!!! This place was like serious nerdville for us diabetics (and all the other technology enhanced peeps as well). We got to see medical devices in the making; check out the behind-the-scene intricacies of a study that is working to make infusion insertion less painful on us wee pin cushions; and talk to the very scientists whose brains are working every day at making our lives better to live.

Medtronic headquarter.

The Medtronic logo: sick to healthy.

And that’s where Tom comes in. This man, wow! I don’t think I will ever forget his voice; the light in his eyes; the passion in his words. For years, pretty much since I got the pump, I have been lamenting its size. It is the thickness of a ‘90s style pager, and the size of a deck of cards. That is TOO big. When I wear it on my belt, my shirts ride up all the time because of it. Tight-fitting jeans are a challenge because of it. And dresses, I look like a bloody hunchback when wearing a cardigan because, unless I want to sport the look of square boobs, it ain’t fitting in my bra! So naturally, my question to Tom was:

“Are they ever going to get smaller?”

Before I could speak another word, before I could tell him my issues, he looked me straight in the eyes and the words just shot out of his mouth faster than a cannonball, arms waving every which way. He fully admitted the technology wasn’t good enough. He wants it smaller, thinner – the thickness of an iPhone. You’re not satisfied, he said, I’m not satisfied!

Sure, I could have been sold a bill of goods, but if you’d seen those eyes, I think you’d agree, this man is going to do everything he can to get insulin pumps to the point where I will be satisfied, where the 100s of 1000s of other insulin pump users will be satisfied. I’m not gonna lie, I kinda, totally fell in love with this man!

Insulin pump technology: "Not good enough!"

Insulin pump technology: “Not good enough!”

Walking through headquarters, Big Ring kept pontificating the benefits for the employees – they had to have had a fantastic onsite daycare; they must have a state-of-the-art gym; a basketball court likely… maybe even a napping room! Not only the passion of the employees, but the grounds – it was like a university campus in of itself. But me, I wasn’t thinking of any of that. As soon as I saw the electron microscopes in action (which I had only just discovered in my microbiology text the week prior) I was in serious lala land – coolest things EVER!!!

My girlfriends of 15 years ago would be so proud – Science!!!

Ahh, but the tour wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The moment I walked through those doors, I felt somewhat like a Scooby Doo intruder about to be unmasked. You see, I was wearing a super cute dress, and as mentioned the pump doesn’t hide well, at all, in dresses. Normally that’s not an issue; I’ve used this sucker as a fashion accessory for six years now. But the thing is, my pump, ahem, isn’t a Medtronic Pump!!!


Okay, so it’s not like it was a secret, Medtronic knew my pump wasn’t theirs. They don’t discriminate against other companies when selecting Global Heroes. But still, I was touring the Medtronic facility, I was meeting the Medtronic scientists and engineers, and would be a handshake distance from one of the top big wigs of the whole company! I could have at least disguised my pump as a Medtronic one. That is all.

Stephen Oesterle, Senior VP for Medicine and Technology.

Stephen Oesterle, Senior VP for Medicine and Technology.

Leaving Medtronic, my head was spinning with information and details and things I wanted to do, things I needed to do. But it was a precious little boy’s face who filled the majority of my brain capacity. Lightening Bolt, my four year old nephew who was diagnosed in June with type-1 – he is going to be the beneficiary of Tom’s, and all the other Medtronic employees, passion! Thank you.

The future of T-1.

The future of T-1.


Mama’s Shoes Don’t Fit

Last week I was put in the shoes of my moms for probably the first time ever. Okay, yes, I have a child just like she did (although, I’m only doing it once, not four times over) and some of you may relate that to walking in her shoes. But for me and my moms, it wasn’t until last week that I truly felt what it was like to walk in her shoes.

I didn’t like it.

So here’s the back story: Lightening Bolt’s parents were in the hospital awaiting the arrival of Baby Number 4 (who by the way has the BEST video game name ever) and I was charged with insulin injecting duties for little LB. Something to do with me having the disease, going 28 years of injections, you know, being veteran T-1 and all. And at first I thought no problem. But then the cogs in my brain started spinning.

I have only ever given myself injections. I have never given anyone else a needle, and I have never liked anyone else giving me a needle. I know my pain threshold. I don’t know LB’s. What the frick did I agree to? Oh freaking crud. This kid is going to hate me!

Insert Dr. Google: My fingers frantically danced over the keyboard in search of injecting tutorials. And low and behold, there is a huge spectrum of them: Wikihow; YouTube; BD.com; etc., etc., etc.. Pictures, videos, words, pretty much anyone can become a needle-loving drug addict online! And FYI, none of it is how I do it!

Insert Second Guessing: What if I can’t do it? I haven’t injected a tiny pen syringe in over five years. What if I’ve forgotten the steps? What if I nick a vein? What if I choke? Nope, that wasn’t an option. Texting back and forth with my lovely sister-in-law helped grow my confidence.

But, his eyes: Those what the frick do you think you’re doing eyes as I held the pen in my right hand. His bottom lip, quivering as he realized oh freak, she ain’t kidding. The tears. The clutching, the pulling down his sleeve, the desperate protecting of his arm. The heartbreaking “No! No! No!”. I don’t remember my own tears at the hands of my moms, but I remember the screams at the hands of the nurses who more often than not left my arms purple and blue. Oh dear. How could I do this?

Granny, you're not seriously letting her near me with that thing are you? Granny????

Granny, you’re not seriously letting her near me with that thing are you? Granny????

I counted. My moms consoled. I rubbed his back. I tried to calm him.  His big brother jumped, bounced and danced. My boy looked at me with those same eyes, what the frick you doing to my cousin bestie mama? I showed him my pump, I showed him my meter, I told him we were the same. But a 4.5 year old facing a needle at the hands of someone he’d never had a needle from prior was not going to understand.

I didn’t know his pain threshold.

The needle was in, the needle was out. The un-trusting glare on his face remained. I will never forget that look, and likely will be getting it for the next 30 years.

Last week I walked in the shoes of my moms; I didn’t like it.

3:30 p.m. BG before: 4.7
Temp. basal: -100% (1 hour)
Carbs: gummy bears
Time: 41:45
Distance: 7.13 km
Average pace: 5:51 min/km
4:30 p.m. BG after: 9.1
Temp. basal: +100% (1 hour)

This run was bittersweet – sweet that I made it a whole 2 more kms then I did on my runs last week, but bitter in that my heel was achy and my toes got a bloody cramp in them half way into the run. Argh!

(Top) Taken moments before the beads of sweat on my forehead became beads of sweat in my eyes – youch! (Left) From my run on Saturday when my foot was freshly taped and I felt not even a tick of an ache for the whole run. (Right) Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!

(Top) Taken moments before the beads of sweat on my forehead became beads of sweat in my eyes – youch! (Left) From my run on Saturday when my foot was freshly taped and I felt not even a tick of an ache for the whole run. (Right) Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!

T-1 25 days until Global Heroes Medtronic Twin Cities in Motion 10 Mile. I will conquer this!

New kid on the block

For someone who doesn’t like change, my gawd, I sure did make a HUGE one this week.

After nearly three years, and two identical replacements, there’s a new pump in town my friends. Gone is the tried-and-true, goes-with-everything, boring black beauty (which really isn’t so beautylicious these days), and in her place, an in-your-face, eye-popping, green hornet of a new insulin pump.

That’s right, GREEN!

A pump with pizazz.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that the rubber covering over the arrow buttons on my pump was peeling back, and given that we’re going into the rainy season here on the West Coast, and that I typically wear my pump on my pant pockets, I thought uh oh, probably not the best thing to have the mechanics of the pump fully exposed.

That just will not do.

I emailed Animas last weekend and within 45 minutes I had a customer service rep from the US calling me. (They’re that good!) The woman on the line told me Animas would replace it no problem (thank heavens for a four-year warranty, which I’ve used twice now… that’s like a pump a year :)), and that a Canadian rep would be contacting me by the end of the day to set up the transaction.

I don’t know what exactly happened from the time I sent the initial email to the time the Canadian rep called me a short time later, but I tell you there was a strong force overpowering my equilibrium shouting out CHANGE! CHANGE! CHANGE! When the rep asked what colour I wanted, my brain said black but my voice said green.

Uh what?

I’ve never been a fan of the Animas colour selection. Unlike Medtronic which has a beautiful purple pump, and a pretty hot-looking aqua blue one too, as well as a huge selection of skins, Animas’ colours are pretty bland. The pink is more an outdated dusty rose, the blue doesn’t pop, and the silver is a magnet for scratches. And even the silver-flecked green never really spoke to me in previous viewings. But for some reason, this time around, it snatched hold of my eye and didn’t let go.

I guess if I get bored with it, or am mortally horrified of looking like Mrs. Claus every time I wear the reds in my wardrobe, there’s always round 2 of the pump vs. aqua jogging 😉

But seriously, a little overboard on the packaging Animas; it was like I was dealing with the box version of a Russian Nesting Doll!

Princess and D-gal: The power of two bloggers

For years I wanted nothing to do with this disease. Nothing. I was comfortable taking a backseat to my diabetes, ignoring it, denying it, full-on rebelling against it. I didn’t care to talk to anyone about it, and I sure as heck didn’t want anybody talking to me about it. And when it came to other diabetics, I wanted nothing to do with them. But my oh my how things do change.

Earlier this week, when still in the Onterrible, I had an opportunity to meet with Scully, fellow blogger, long-distance runner, and type 1 diabetic. I was a little nervous going in. I’ve been reading her blog for a good while now and while I love her online personality, I had no idea what I’d be getting in the flesh. Over the years I’ve met a few diabetics who, truthfully, I couldn’t stand. For me, there’s nothing worse than the “know-it-all” diabetic trying to tell you everything you’re doing wrong. But Scully, she was nothing like that. The second Mario and I sat down with her at the coffee shop, the conversations started rolling and continued for two straight hours.

Comparing pumps: She’s Medtronic. I’m Animas.

We talked about life, about our running, our respective races (She ran the Missassauga Half on Sunday while I ran the Toronto Half), our blogs, and yes our diabetes too. Unlike me, Scully was diagnosed with Type 1 at 22 and gets rightfully disgusted when people still call it “juvenile” diabetes. She had contracted poison ivy and after weeks of itching, was prescribed a high dose of steroids. Within two days, she couldn’t see and her pancreas had shut down. And unlike my diagnosis when I was nine, where I was rushed to the hospital as soon as my moms told the doc my symptoms, she went two months – TWO MONTHS! – with no insulin, no glucose metre, no support, nothing! But the thing is, this chick is a fighter. Not only did she survive, she has seriously thrived, traveling the world, going on backpacking adventures, rock climbing, spin classes, and is now about to embark upon her first full marathon. Wonder. Woman.

Forget medical bracelets, this chick designed her own medical tattoo!

And even though Scully’s only had the disease for eight or nine years, she is so freaking knowledgeable about it. From her, I have discovered the beauty of upping my temporary basal rates post exercise to avoid a BG surge. I’ve learned how to waterproof my so-called waterproof pump – hello Duct tape! And the best tip of all: Giant Rockets! You know those cellophane wrapped halloween candies you’d get as a kid, well, turns out there’s giant ones on the market that act in almost the same way as DEX glucose tablets, (Three Giant Rockets = 9g carbs. Three DEX = 12g carbs) but unlike DEX, Rockets are a whole lot more tasty!

Oh yes I did stock up! Brilliant!

In just two hours, I learned so much more useful information than I have in probably the last five years of specialists appointments … and she was way cooler to talk to too! Why is it that such valuable people have to live so darn far away?

Dear Scully, the West Coast is wa-ay better than the Onterrible. Just saying… 😉