Friday, November 5, 2010

Medtronic Rant

When Life Depends on "Half-Assed" Medical Technology
My luck with Medtronic is slipping.
When I pushed through the crowds to get onto the Assisted Device Program the moment I heard it came into effect I was totally new to the insulin pump therapy crowd.  I wasn't really aware of other pump companies out there.  My endo's office had a pump seminar that I attended.  Thing is, it was put on by Medtronic reps so naturally all I saw was Medtronic.  I was so eager to skip on through and get myself attached to a pump that I never really asked questions.  Needless to say, it seemed to me that we only had a choice of Medtronic and nothing else.  I remember some of the nurses saying that they are affiliated with Medtronic and so is the government and it would be practical and best to just follow suit.  They never once showed me other pumps and companies even though they had entire bookshelves with sample pumps of every kind.

I think if I knew that I had a choice, I would have maybe selected another pump company.  The only thing I did research myself was that the Omnipod wasn't available in Canada.  I had found that out 2 years before this though when I first decided I wanted a pump.

I am not going to go into great detail cursing Medtronic.  Insulin pump therapy is cutting edge and incredibly technologically advanced.  I am grateful every single day that I even HAVE a funded pump.  Furthermore, Metronic customer care has always been fantastic.  However, I still have 3 things I really want to get off my chest.

ONE:     The online Carelink system where you upload your pump data is seriously behind with the times.  As far as I know you still can't use the Carelink with Windows 7.  I upgraded my operating system on my laptop awhile ago now and complained to Medtronic and they still haven't fixed the problem.  Like I said, I haven't tried in awhile but the last time I uploaded I still had to drive out to my parents house just to upload since they are still running XP on one of their computers.

TWO:     My Transmitter Issue: still not rectified.  I wrote a post about my bad transmitter at the beginning of October.  Medtronic product support told me my transmitter needed to be replaced (with a price tag of $700 out-of-pocket) because the one I had stopped working.  The warranty on those things is ONLY 6 months and naturally I was outside of the warranty.  Though I've only had my transmitter for 9 months.  Are they supposed to break that often?  That's an expensive piece of equipment to last only 9 months.  I've been dealing with a local rep here almost weekly to come and meet me to troubleshoot whether the transmitter truly is busted but we have yet to meet up for a month.  Meanwhile I have 6 sensors that expired at the end of October and the last time I talked to her she said there wasn't anything they could do about that.  $300 (of my own dollars) down the drain.  Don't even get me started on my rants about the poor design of the CGM system as far as lack of adhesiveness is concerned. You can read some of my rants here and here.

THREE:     Right now I am awaiting the delivery of my 3rd pump so far.  I've been pumping less than 2 years.  Last night I got the low battery alarm.  As I was putting a new battery in I noticed some major plastic cracks around the battery cap.  Two pieces of plastic look like they could fall of if they got snagged by a thread.  Then I looked closer and it is also cracked where the reservoir screws in.   Grrreeeaaat!!  Just wonderful.  My first pump was giving me grief with the "Motor Error" in which it would suddenly rewind itself once a week or so at random.  Luckily I'm still under warranty.  I am not brutal with my pump care.  Sure I've dropped it from time to time but nothing that stands out as particularly damaging.  It's attached to me - ALL THE TIME, if I drop it, the tube catches it and it dangles.  Never hitting the ground.  So how does this happen?  Am I throwing myself against brick walls cleavage first in my sleep?! Furthermore, I'm curious, is this normal that I'm waiting for my 3rd pump in under 2 years?  Has anyone else had to replace pumps this often?

What I'm getting at is that pumping is expensive.  These little buggers are worth THOUSANDS of dollars each and I'm surely not exaggerating.  They are medical devices.  Where is the quality I wonder?  Like I said, I LOVE my pump.  I LOVE that it is mostly paid for by the government.  It has allowed me a higher quality of life I couldn't get on MDI's.  The question still lingers deep inside, are they worth the money?  Are we getting what we deserve at the cost of pumps & supplies?  They are so bloody expensive but don't really stand up to long term use and abuse.


  1. That sucks. Money or no money it doesn't change the fact that this is something you need to live, so it should ruddy well work. Though yeah, this sort of thing does make me love MDI. People are always saying pumps give them better quality of life but....I think MDI is way better for me personally. I hope you get everything sorted out. I haven't heard of anyone needing that many replacements but if you need them, you need them. This is your life, not a game.

  2. I wouldn't dream of going back to MDI's. My life was miserable. Chugging syrup before bed every single day, battling with hellish exercise lows.... Though I wish MDI's worked for me. honest. And yes, playing with expensive medtronic "toys" feels like a game. I guess I expected better product at those insane costs.

  3. Similar to Sam I prefer MDI's for my lifestyle, but I see the benefit of the pump forsure. If I had government funding like you do(I live in Canada too) I would jump on board immediately- bec the cost is what is holding me back.
    I think that when determining the pros/cons of the pump therapy in general, one must weigh it all out to see the costs and the benefits medically. If you find you have better control with the pump then it sounds like no matter what the cost, it's better for you.
    In North America, we are very fortunate to even have access to such options, when we know that in other parts of the world they do not even have these options, let alone government funding as your province has.
    Maybe make a pro/con list and see what is most important to you and what is actually doable versus imaginary. It may help you determine what's best for you.

  4. I've been using Medtronic pumps for close to a decade, and I'm done with them. I'm going to blog about my reasons soon, and my reasons are mostly different from yours. One of the main things can be stated in one word:
    Other pump and CGM companies have products that will serve me better.
    These companies also seem more interested in quickly making the changes that customers want.
    I've had three Medtronic pumps replaced due to problems over 9 years, so I haven't had as many problems as you. The one I have now is out of warranty, and I really should get it replaced before it fails, which is inevitable.

  5. I do not want to go back on MDI, we Canadians have only two options Animas or Medtronic my warranty is up and I have been trying to decide on – What next? Do I stay with Animas or try Medtronic.
    I think for now I will stick with my Animas 2020 till it dies hopefully we will have more options then.

  6. Hi, I found you through Jen's blog at I Am Your Pancreas. I am mother/pancreas to Joe, a 7 year old boy (diagnosed at 3). I write for Beta Buddies. Anyway...we LOVE Animas...great customer support (like Medtronic). We have not had any breakdown issues of our pump...and this is a pump that plays hockey, careens down sled hills and must work in sub-zero temps. Joe also sports the Dexcom 7+ sensor...which, apparently, at some point is supposed to be integrated with the Animas pump. Good luck with your decision...whatever you decide will be right for you or you will make it so from the sound of things...good to meet you.

  7. Wow.. you guys have such awesome things to say. I was going to try to write back to all the comments but then I'd be writing a whole new post here! THANK you all.. i very much LOVE getting feedback.

    and Reyna.. when i have time I look forward to reading your blog!

  8. Hey! I didn't know you were doing NaBloPoMo...I added you to my NaBloPoMo blogroll :)

    We're quite happy with Animas as well. I posted about our reasons (and compared them to other pump companies) here...

  9. This was part of the reason I went back to MDI's. My first pump by medtronic was great and it survived every crash and burn. The pieces for it were great too. After a few years the quality got worse and worse. Eventually I upgraded the pump and Oh my was that bad. It started cracking after a few months. Eventually the plastic materials would just fall apart... I got really upset and said I'm done. I was scared but turns out it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I don't get a lot of lows. I just lower my lantus on days I am much more active. Of course, to each their own, but, I can attest to your frustration. You're right, they should be of better quality for the price you pay. They should be ashamed if truly, they've been making them cheaper over the years.


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