Somewhere I thought I read that the t:slim was supposed to be a bubble-free system. But I don’t recall where, and I can’t find it now, so maybe I was dreaming.
All I can find about bubbles in the official literature is the warning in the manual to be careful not to have any bubbles in the fill syringe when doing a site change. Well, duh.
Of course, your t:slim insulin lives in a plastic bag hidden inside a solid, dark cave of plastic where no eye can spy a bubble, should it lurk there.
But because I was bubble-deluded, thinking I had read it was a bubble-free system, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the issue until I had an unusual fit of boredom.
Now boredom isn’t usually an issue for me, as I’m an overworked workaholic. But a week or so ago I was actually lying on the bed doing nothing. My restless hands were fidgeting with my pump, running the infusion set tubing through my fingers. And that’s when I saw it. A stretch of clear space in the heart of the tubing. Then another. And another.
What the fuck?
Are those… are those… are those bubbles?
Now I’m totally on board with not adding any unnecessary chemicals into our bodies, but sometimes I wish insulin had a color dye in it. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time seeing the clear insulin in a clear tube. And it’s even worse after I’ve worn the tubing a few days. As it gets bent, tucked, scuffed, and so forth, it develops a differential sheen that can be mistaken for a bubble.
So that was my first thought. They must be faux bubbles. This set was on its third day. (My skin freaks out under an infusion set after two days, but my insurance company doesn’t want to pay for changing my sets every two days, so I’m dealing with all sorts of skin irritation and trying to survive the third day by scratching frequently while I wait out a “prior authorization” for the number of sets I actually use.)
But these really, really, really looked like bubbles. To make sure, I marked one of the mysterious clear spots with a sharpie, placing a blue mark on either side of the mystery artifact and then biding my time, literally.
And sure enough:
The bubble migrated. It moved up the tube. There is air in my insulin sack. And that air is being sucked up by the micro pump. And that air is being sent down the infusion set tubing, taking up space where insulin is supposed to be. Damn it.
Now, in case you don’t know, the air is harmless in and of itself. It won’t hurt me, but where there’s air, there isn’t insulin. It displaces the insulin. That lowers the insulin volume I should be getting. So here, in the third day of the life of a set, I’ve got 3 bubbles each nearly an inch long.
That means I’m not getting the amount of insulin that I’m supposed to be getting.
Lovely. Just fucking lovely.
Well, whether I was dreaming or not about the bubble free system—even though I was lying in bed when I discovered them—these bubbles are no dream.