How long does it take to get better and faster at installing cartridge, loading cartridge, putting in new infusion set etc. It takes me between 1 and 2 hours!! Any advice?
Did you get trained by a Tandem rep on how to fill the cartridge? If not, you need to be trained, there are videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to complete process as well. It should not take you more than 10 minutes to unpack all the supplies you’ll need, remove the air from the cartridge, fill the cartridge, prime tubing, insert infusion set, resume insulin delivery.
To answer your question, you should be able to complete the whole process very quickly after a week or so. It took me 10 minutes the first few times, after a couple weeks I’ve gotten it down to 5 minutes.
Thank you Jason. I have been trained by two nurses and have watched the videos multiple times. My biggest problem is the repeated removing the air from the syringe and from the cartridge. Tapping my finger on the syringe does not remove the air bubbles. Also there doesn’t seem to be a video about that process. Once I get the air removal down I think I will be able to proceed much faster. I appreciate your support as I am discouraged about the length of time involved.
@MollyB Hi Molly and Welcome to the TypeOneNation forum!
I agree with you that the Tandem cartridge is a nuisance - at least when compared with the MiniMed/Medtronic reservoirs I had used with my three previous pumps.
In January I began using the Tandem t-Slim x2 for reasons that make it, overall, the far superior pump so I reluctantly decided to put up with the cartridge hassle. In the beginning, I’m guessing that it took me about 10 minutes to get the cartridge properly purged and filled, but now the entire infusion-set/cartridge change takes me less than ten minutes. I keep an entire set-change supply including insulin in a plastic box on the kitchen counter at all times so everything is handy; just grab the box, check my calendar log for rotation-site, and set to work and finish quickly.
As far as air-bubbles, two things: do NOT keep your active insulin vial refrigerated and, with the initial push of air into the vial, have the vial sitting upright. Nurses especially are trained to hold a vial up-side-down and push air up through the solution - that is a NO-NO with insulin that I learned many years ago. Insulin, especially the analog types, easily retain air bubbles.
I appreciate your help. It takes me a LOT longer than 10 minutes but I am encouraged that I may get there eventually.
I have a very difficult time getting the cover off of the infusion set and bent two needles while trying to get the lid off. I have also inadvertently torn the needle out of the middle again in an effort of trying to get the cover off and/or unwind the cord. I am beyond frustrated but do not want to give up.
Don’t tap the syringe with your fingers to get the air bubbles to move to the top of the syringe. Instead, whack the side of the syringe with a pen a few times. Any pen works, I’ve found the fatter the pen, the better(Mont Blanc is my preference). This gets all the bubbles to the top so you can push them back into the insulin vial and draw insulin back into the syringe without any air.
Be sure to remove the air out of the cartridge before you draw any insulin into the syringe. The first thing I do, is insert the syringe into the cartridge and pull the plunger back as far as it will go. I then remove the needle from them cartridge and push all the air out with the plunger. I will do this five or six times before I fill the syringe with 200 units of insulin. Once you’ve filled the syringe with 200 units, insert the needle back into the cartridge and pull on the plunger a bunch of times. I do this very quickly and get all the remaining air out of the cartridge.
I’ve done this process countless times over the years and have never had a single air bubble in my tubing or a single occlusion.
If you’ve been trained by 2 nurses and still have major issues with filling the cartridge, you were not trained properly. The cartridge fill is somewhat tedious compared to other pumps but not difficult. You desperately need someone who has a lot of experience with the Tandem pump to show you how to do this process correctly. If I were you, I’d call Tandem to see if a representative in your area can meet with you and demonstrate in detail how to fill the cartridge correctly.
In addition to the other very useful tips already given:
I was trained to full the syringe with insulin, remove bubbles, then pull the air from the cartridge and remove bubbles again before pushing the insulin into the cartridge. Makes no sense! Now I pull air from the cartridge first, then get the insulin and remove air bubbles once. Much faster and easier.
Dexterity: I sometimes want to twist off the syringe needle cover or pinch the wrong half of the TruSteel clip. If parts of the process are just challenging to your fingers/brain, try taking some used pieces and practice the motion over and over. This helped me a lot.
Finally, I know I’m going to struggle with a cartridge fill if I’m too tired, BG is high, or I’m in a hurry. I try to avoid those times when I can.
Hope this helps, Mollie! You’re not alone on this journey.
Thanks Lisa! Those are the two most challenging parts and I will try practicing with a used set as you suggested. Do you have advice on what to do with the long tubing. I get it caught on door knobs and once I pulled the whole set right out of my body!
Thanks again Lisa!
Molly, I am so glad those suggestions are helpful! This forum has been such a great support to me. I tuck my tubing into the waistband of my pants, usually, or a nearby pocket. Sometimes I’ll just pull a shirt over it, but as you mentioned it’s easy to catch on things. Best to keep it stowed.
If you surf around, you’ll find a number of pump pockets and accessories on Amazon, Etsy, etc., and helpful YouTube posts on wearing a pump in different situations–exercise, prom dress, etc. Many creative ideas!