The Hieroglyphics of Pumping
And just where does MedT use hieroglyphics, you ask?
Glad you asked. In almost all of its important functions and status communiqués the ParaPump does not speak English, Spanish, French, or German. It uses ancient Egyptian.
When ParaPump is just minding it’s own business and doing its job, most of the screen that dominates its face is blank. The only signs of life are along a thin ribbon on the top of the screen. On the left is the missile with chevrons, then (sometimes) the full moon or the bull’s-eye, then, in the middle, up to four numbers. The numbers are modern, thank goodness, not Roman numerals. Next comes the toilet plunger (or in some cases the cookie cutter), and last the tank with boxes.
Confused? Luckily for all of you I attended the American University in Cairo in a previous life and I can still remember a great deal of the Hieroglyphics I learned.
Starting at the right, ‘cause sometimes hieroglyphics read right to left, we’ll start with the tank with boxes. This is the battery status icon. The number of boxes tells you about how much battery is left. In theory. The icon seems highly subjective and none to precise. Almost immediately after putting a fresh battery in it, I dropped from four to three boxes. That said I walked around for weeks with only one box left in the tank. The CoZmo battery icon had more precise graphic depiction of battery life. Some of my other battery powered gear can actually predict how much time remains on the battery.
That said, I’m tickled to have a battery icon of any kind. The original Guardian did not have one at all. It gave you an alarm moments before the battery died, almost always at two in the morning.
The toilet plunger and the cookie cutter are icons to indicate if and how well the seashell transmitter and the ParaPump are talking to each other. The toilet plunger shows a strong telemetry. The seashell is transmitting and the ParaPump is receiving. All is well with the world when the toilet plunger is on your screen. The cookie cutter warns you of trouble in paradise. Your sensor system is on, but there is no communication. Any number of things can cause this, most of them end badly. Every once in a while you’ll lose an info packet and get the cookie cutter for a short time, then it recovers. Most times, when you see the cookie cutter you know your life line is about to be cut off. So don’t eat cookies when you see the cookie cutter.
The numbers in the middle are the time. You can set 24 hour (sometimes called military time) or AM/PM time. I’ve got mine on 24 hour. Don’t know why, I have just always preferred it.
Next are the moon and the bull’s-eye. Just remember that when there is a bad moon rising you need to be careful; and when you are in the bull’s-eye you are in a world of shit. The moon icon indicates that an alarm condition exists. I’ve got a full moon rising on my screen right now. So what does that mean? Well it can mean a whole lot of things. In this case, it is because I’m a few hours from site change and my reservoir is low. Deb just pulled chocolate-chip banana bread (made with Splenda) out of the oven. Smells sooooooooooo good. I’ll need to get a new reservoir full of NovoLog into ParaPump before that bread cools off! The bull’s-eye means something so serious has happened that the pump is not working. I would have chosen an icon of a person screaming, myself. Oh, yeah, the bull’s-eye also shows up when you have suspended the pump.
Last, on the far left, is the missile with chevrons. This shows you more or less how much insulin is in the reservoir. Not too precise, because like the battery icon, it only has four “bars.” So more or less full, 75% full, half full, or only 25% or less left. Here is where I miss the CoZmo. It too had a little icon, but right below the hieroglyph it told you exactly how many units were left in the pump. I can menu surf and get that info from the ParaPump, but it takes work and I’m a busy guy. All diabetics are busy. We need simple.
So all of these Icons are things you can (and must) learn. I suppose they are no better or worse than any other pump. My biggest gripe is that we have this huge screen with nothing on it most of the time. We’ve got a huge blank screen on the most sophisticated, info packed pump of all time. Drives me fucking crazy. My fist choice would be for it to display the latest Sensor Glucose and a graph. Or the status of the power, reservoir, basal, last bolus, active insulin in your body….or all of the above. What the hell, we’ve got a pretty big screen. We’re using meaningless hieroglyphics; why not design an aircraft-style cockpit display? Something that, with practice, you can glace at and know everything you need to know about your pump and your blood sugar.
Maybe some people would never learn to use it, but it beats the hell out of a blank screen that benefits no one. Maybe it would eat up the batteries a little sooner. AAAs are cheap. I would rather change the battery every two weeks than every month if it gave me info at a glace. Info with out menu surfing.
Anyway, a toast to Hersy-Ra for trying. And a toast for MedT for succeeding, because even with all the things we hate, we’d hate even more to be living in pre-pump times, or worse yet in 1552 BC.