Thoughts On the Ping Demo

I was reminded that I haven’t actually posted my thoughts on the Ping after I demo’d it on Monday. So here we go…

First things first – if you are in the market for a new device, ask for a demo! I don’t care if your insurance obligates you to only sign up for one specific brand because THAT’S who they want to cover the expenses for. You should have some knowledge of what you are getting into before you sign on for four years. After all, it’ll be at your side (or in your pocket, or bra, or whatever) 24/7/365. I was shocked, (beyond shocked actually), after the Lifescan rep told me she’s met with existing pump users for demos who didn’t know where their settings were. (Or couldn’t change them for that matter.)

Okay – enough of that.

So the meeting was about 1 1/2 hours of questions, conversation, and a little bit of hands on work. The Animas rep is a PWD himself who wore Medtronic for years before switching because his job said to. (Obviously.)

His initial impressions after switching were that his BGs ended up better on the Animas pump than on the Medtronic pumps – more notably during fastings and overnights when it’s only the basals being pushed through. Apparently, Animas Pings push out an increment of your basal rate for the hour every three minutes, whereas Medtronic has a tendency to dump a lot or a little during the course of an hour. Makes sense if you disconnect from the pump during a basal dump and you see higher sugars because you missed part of the dose. Hmm. YDMV… a lot, however.

I got to “play” with a test pump and the coordinating meter. My first impression? There is a LOT of information on that screen and it’s all really small and compact. The graphic designer in me wanted to adjust the leading really bad. I mean, I have decent eyesight for the most part, but much, much different than the big ol’ numbers of my Medtronic pump. It’ll take an adjustment to get used to it. Though – having it glow in the dark without a back light might be handy… unless my dress is sheer. (More on that later.)

The infusion sets come in self-contained inserters, so no extra plungers or devices to purchase to make site changes more efficient. The boxes everything came in are much smaller, so I might have more closet space one day. The infusion sites also appeared smaller and thinner than my QuickSets.

I got to play with the pump itself more. The scrolling through the numbers didn’t annoy me like I thought it would, but I could see breezing through your desired amount of insulin without thinking about it. Animas rep said he eventually figured out the “right touch” to scroll effectively… whatever that means. Maybe it’s like when you get a new touch screen cell phone and it has to get used to your touch? Although, to be fair, I’ve had instances with my Medtronic where I’ve suddenly scrolled up to 150 carbs when I meant to give for 50. It happens.

The bolus scrolling after you’ve decided that you need a dose seems a bit redundant. Why can’t it just auto-fill? Did Medtronic claim that as well? Seems silly. Animas rep said it has held him more accountable for doses. (The next generation will ask you, “Are You SURE You Want to Give 14 Units of Insulin?!” Just kidding… sort of. You just wait.)

Then it started to sing to me. No, seriously. I hit a button during the bolus administration (which was set HELLA FAST) and it started playing Für Elise a la a 1999 Nokia cell phone. DaHell? Animas rep: “Oh, you can pick the alert tones.” Seriously? I’m undecided if I like this. On one hand, I have the option of picking something I can actually HEAR. On the other, I’m going to drive my dance instructor mad! Anyway…

The reason Beethoven started playing? I cancelled the bolus delivery by accident. (More likely: I just hit a bunch of buttons after I said “Go!” and it stopped everything.) I think a review I read before the demo indicated that it was really easy to cancel a bolus on the Ping – now I see why.

Back to the sheer dress comment. The Animas rep mentioned that some of the women he has either trained or sold the pumps to come back and mention that the light up screen takes some getting used to if you hide the pump “with the girls.” As convenient as the meter remote is, the pump still lights up when a bolus is administered regardless of how. So for those ladies that stick their pumps down their shirts for whatever reason, sometimes they end up with an “Iron Man” effect if the buttons are facing out. Yikes. Something to think about as I often hide my pump under dresses in spaces I don’t want lit up. For goodness sake… how embarrassing.

On the flip side, the pump is WATERPROOF, and therefore sweat-proof. So I won’t be able to drown my pump as easily, like I have my Medtronic.

So is there a verdict? Not really sure yet. Could I live with this pump if I had a gun to my head and had to pick something now? Probably. I think there will be things I miss by switching from the Medtronic, but I may not have a choice if I can’t get a Revel. Hmph.


Y’know between my multiple illnesses, nausea, making my hubby sick, and the news that I one day I could  test my blood sugar with my tear duct, I’m getting a bit behind on making an insulin pump decision. Though – it’s not quite February yet… but still, I feel like I should have this down already. How hard can it be to make a decision on a piece of technology that you’ll be dependent on for the next four years? Hm?

I started researching the Animas Ping before I got the flu and I have a demo of the pump scheduled with the local NorCal rep on Monday. There are a ton of bloggers that use, or have used, the Ping. Notably – Kerri over at SixuntilMe and formerly Kim over at TextingMyPancreas. And since I keep reading conflicting information on whether I can or cannot get a plain ol’ Revel pump from Medtronic, the Ping might be my next purchase for a variety of reasons.

ImageThe Ping is a two part system – pump and a meter. The pump portion looks, initially, like a Medtronic Paradigm, and the Meter looks like my OneTouch UltraLink. The user has two options – control insulin delivery through the pump like normal OR administer a bolus through the meter based on a blood sugar post fingerstick. Yes kids – it’s a remote controlled pump.

This solves all kinds of wardrobe issues. When I wear a dress, I clip my pump to the top of my leggings, dance pants, whatever. It’s totally safe and convenient until I need to eat something and administer insulin for it. (Things just get awkward if you are hiking up your dress at work.) Now – Medtronic DOES have a remote control you can buy, but it’s pretty simple; a set of up/down arrows to set up a bolus, .10 units at a time. Here – the Animas meter allows you to actually see what you are giving. Pretty neat.

Another perk? Animas is responsible for the Vibe – an insulin pump that was recently released in the UK and that the US is waiting (impatiently) to get their hands on. When it finally does, I can guess that there will be upgrade programs available for Ping users. The Vibe is a device similar to Medtronic’s Revel or 530G – it’ll read those CGM graphs right on the pump… however, it implements the Dexcom graphs rather than whatever the Sof-Sensors spit out. My Dex is somewhere in insurance red-tape-land and I should have it here soon. So, purchasing an Animas product just seems smart in the long run based on my latest purchase.

The Ping isn’t without its drawbacks of course. Reviews have indicated that insulin delivery is quite quick and can be somewhat painful. And then anyone going from a Medtronic to a Ping definitely misses the convenience of the bolus-wizard; and not the nine zillion button pushes needed to get insulin started. (This is why I’m asking for a demo before I even ask for my insurance to check it out.) So – we’ll see if I can comfortably navigate an insulin dose without throwing something.

Happy Friday!