DIY Loop Helps Keep Me Sane

There are a limited number of systems when it comes to advanced diabetes tech. As of now, in the United States, there are 3 companies producing insulin pumps: Medtronic with Minimed, Tandem with t:slim, and Insulet with Omnipod. To my knowledge, there are four companies producing continuous glucose monitors: Medtronic, Dexcom, Libre, and Eversense.

I was an Animas user from 2002 to 2012 (adding in Dexcom in 2007). I switched to a Medtronic 723 and their brand of CGM (not sure which one it was – it was pre-Enlite). I was not fond of it, although it was great to have my sensor connected to my insulin pump so I didn’t have to carry around a PDM. I disliked the sensor enough that I ended up going back to using my old Animas 1200 and Dexcom (probably a G4 Platinum at that point). From 2014 to 2017, I honestly switched between an Animas Ping, Omnipod Eros, and multiple daily injections (MDI). In 2017 I started the Medtronic 670g. It was great at first, but the novelty wore off, and I didn’t get enough sleep from all the beeping. It was not for me.

In 2018, my childhood diabetes camp started hosting an “Adult Retreat” weekend in Sequoia National Park. At Bearskin Meadow Camp, I learned everything I needed to be a successful human, not just a “good diabetic” (a term I will forever condemn). I was so excited to get back to a place that loved me for me, regardless of diabetes. You can learn more about the organization here: https://dyf.org/

That’s where I met my current doctor. Every time we went over CGM and Pump data, he would ask if I was ready to switch to looping.

It took me long enough, but in 2020 my health insurance stopped covering the guardian sensors and made me switch to Dexcom G6. Even though my 670g was still in warranty, insurance wanted me to pay my 30% coinsurance to obtain a t:slim insulin pump. I would love to be able to use a t:slim, but I was not going to shell out $4,500 when my current pump was still under warranty. Eventually, after threatening I would start looping with a 20 year old MiniMed 722, I finally got them to agree to cover Omnipod Eros via my Pharmacy Benefit Manager.

DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend my threatening approach. I get overly emotional and it seems to work sometimes, but it is probably better not to threaten the people who pay for a majority of what keeps you alive. This is where the lack of social support in diabetes care comes in, but that’s a topic for another time.

I have been looping using a MiniMed 722 (shhh!!) or Omnipod Eros, Dexcom G6, Riley/Orange Link, with my iPhone 11 for just under a year now. I did the straightforward build using loopdocs.org. I’ll write about my re-build experience next month, so keep an eye out!

I haven’t ever been happier with how I am dealing with diabetes since starting Loop. It’s not necessarily because of Looping and its open source code, but it is because of the fact that it is a DIY system. Having a DIY Loop is a personal responsibility I have taken on to help make diabetes a runner up for the “most important part of me” category. It is a system that I feel responsible for maintaining in order to keep me alive. I can sleep all the way through the night. I can mute alarms. I can forget to bolus and still have a relatively easy time making the adjustment once it’s discovered.

It has allowed Sonja, not Sonja’s diabetes, to be number one. And that is currently my key to preventing burnout.

Have you created a DIY Loop? Do you have questions about DIY looping? Do you have a different approach to keeping yourself #1 to prevent burnout? Tell me about it in the comments or at https://twitter.com/SonjaT1D. You can also always reach out to me via email at sonjac@nevada.unr.edu.

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Sonja Cunningham

20 years survived with T1D, 2021 Executive MBA candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno

One thought on “DIY Loop Helps Keep Me Sane”

  1. I admire people who use these DIY systems. I like my MMT 770g and love the new guardian 3 sensor. As an older person I am less likely to take risks. I do really like the tandem and look forward to Big Foot, Lilly and the newest patch pumps coming into the market in 2022. I think we will have some terrific choices soon.

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