It’s been about 2.5 months with my 670G pump. I’ve never had such an intense love/hate relationship with a medical device before. When asked if I’d recommend the pump or how I feel about, my honest answer is that I have very mixed feelings about it. And I think the most important takeaway is to have realistic expectations if you decide to get this pump. It is far far from perfect, but it has incredible potential. However, there are many and frequent frustrations, and for me, the pump was not only affecting my sleep (which obviously has implications for all areas of your life), it was also affecting my mood.
One thing I’ve learned over the past 17 years living with a chronic disease is that you have to make it fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around. That doesn’t mean you don’t make changes to the way you live, but it also means that to get through each and every day, you find ways to fit diabetes into the life you want to live. I have a few diabetes mantras, and one of them is “Diabetes does not define you.” My health and safety is always my first priority, but within the confines of this pump, I’ve found some tricks to get me through each day so that the pump is not negatively affecting my mood and sleep.
I’ll stop right here and say that what I’m about to tell you is not the way that the pump was designed and intended to work, so if you choose to try any of the tricks below, you do so at your own risk. I’m not recommending these for everyone, obviously you know what is realistic or not for your own life and circumstances. But this blog is for sharing my personal experiences so that’s what I’m doing.
My 670G Tips and Tricks
1.Be very careful about when you calibrate. Medtronic seems to have a lot of advice about this, don’t calibrate when you’re rising or dropping, don’t calibrate when there’s active insulin, calibrate about 4 times a day. I’ve also found that since I’m a stomach/side sleeper, I try not to calibrate when I first wake up even if it’s asking for one. I give it 30 minutes to an hour for the sensor to even back out. When I get into the cycle that says “Wait to enter BG” sometimes it helps to wait more than the 15 minutes, up to an hour even before entering the next BG.
2. Learn your sensor’s patterns. The sensor is supposed to last 7 days, however this has rarely been my experience. Here’s what my sensor timeline typically looks like:
- Day 1: sensor is getting used to my body and usually isn’t very accurate for the first 24 hours.
- Day 2-4: Sensor typically works pretty well, calibrations last close to 12 hours.
- Day 5: Things start going downhill, either it will say change sensor or will need much more frequent calibrations.
- Day 6-7: Hah
3. Adapt your manual and auto mode use to your sensor’s patterns. I’ve found that when the sensor is in auto mode, it requires many more calibrations, and that it is much quicker to not accept a calibration and eventually tell you to change a sensor than if it’s in manual mode. This makes sense. Since it’s giving insulin in auto mode, it wants to make sure it’s as safe and accurate as possible. However, if you want your sensor to get the full 7 days (or as close as you can), you can sometimes stretch the use by staying in manual mode for the last couple days. Here’s how it works:
- Day 1: I keep it in manual mode for most of the day until the sensor is reading pretty close to my finger readings.
- Day 2-4: Auto mode
- Day 5: This is often where I get to the point that it tells me to change sensors. So now instead of cursing and getting mad, I disconnect the sensor from my body and charge it while turning off the sensor on my pump. Then I reconnect the sensor and “trick” the pump, telling it that it’s a new sensor. I then go through the warm-up period. For me, this works about half the time. If the sensor has gotten bent, then this trick won’t work, you’ll still end up changing it.
- Day 6-7: Manual mode
4. If you feel comfortable, alert silences can be a great thing. I always calibrate my sensor right before bed, hoping it will last the 12 hours. However, if you’re close to day 5 and beyond, the sensor will often ask for a calibration 6 hours later, which for me is around 4 or 5 am. I was waking so frequently that my body started automatically waking up at 5 am every morning, and I would have trouble falling back asleep. So now, I make a judgment call each night. If I feel pretty sure that my blood sugar isn’t fluctuating too much, I sometimes choose to silence all alerts for the night. This way it won’t wake me up if it needs a calibration. I did find that it does still vibrate for low blood sugars. The pros: an undisturbed night of sleep. The cons: if it does need a calibration during the night, you won’t have any readings and if you’re in auto mode, it probably will eventually kick you out. So ultimately this comes down to what you’re personally comfortable with. I don’t silence the alerts every night, more so for the nights I just really want an undisturbed night. And I’ve always been able to feel my lows during the night so I don’t rely as heavily on the pump alerts. Then if I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning, I’ll often calibrate anyway. But at least then it’s my body waking me up, and not my pump.
Everyone’s needs and experiences are different. My “tricks” might not work for you or fit your lifestyle or may not be how you want to be using the pump. But maybe they do help. Either way, I’m all about sharing and learning from one another.
Excellent write-up. You just confirmed EVERYTHING that I am currently doing with my pump and sensor. Happy to know that I am not the only one with the same frustrations!!
this is what is happening to me as well and it is the reason I think the devices are POS, with the software bugs and the sensor not working correctly for me, then I have to say that the setup is unacceptable, the pump blood sugar reading is always low and with the sensors having a plus or mines of 20% BS accuracy has a lot to be said about this sensor, if the pump BS read can not be with in 5 points of a finger check during a normal check, no rapid change then it should be close to what the sensor is telling the pump you are at. the system is JUNK and now I have to live with it for the next 3 1/2 years. frustrations I went past it after the first month in auto mode
How do you silence alerts for the night???? This would be a God send. My husband is HATING this pump for that reason alone. I’d love to ask you some additional questions! Whitney@whitneyknoxmcdaniel.com
Hi! Yes! In the main menu, scroll down to Audio Options, then click Alert Silence Options, and then scroll down to All Sensor Alerts. You then have the option to set the duration of the alarm, I usually do 10 hours, but you can do as long or short as you’d like. Fortunately and unfortunately, it doesn’t silence ALL alarms, it will still go off form blood sugars under 50 and for some other situations. But it does silence the calibration alarm which is helpful.
I came across your blog while googling the term ‘safe basal limit’. This was the alert I got from my pump during the night when my pump exited automode. I have had this pump for 2 mths and the jury is definitely still out. Just as you said my pump interrupted my sleep at least 5 times last night as it does many nights. I had changed both sensor and infusion set yesterday and was hoping for a quiet night. When my pump exits auto mode I didn’t realize initially that the ‘suspend before low’ feature had to be turned back on and I was getting into trouble with frequent blood sugars in the 40’s. I have had T1D for 33 yrs. and a pump for almost 20 but am not sure yet I am willing to disrupt my life to the point of sleep loss every night for what this pump has to offer.
I appreciate your suggestions offered. I am an RN for 45 yrs. and am a little baffled so I can imagine that others are also.
I will say however that my Pump Educator is excellent and trying to help make adjustments. I don’t know if there are any we can make to remedy these problems since the way I understand it the pump is programmed to form an algorithm from which it determines your insulin needs. I believe it needs work in several areas and would advise further work and continued research. Planning to upload to care link tomorrow to see if my Educator can suggest any other adjustments.
Thank you again for sharing these suggestions.
Thank You for the articulate “ruminations” on the challenges of 670g “Auto Mode.” Will keep the calibration tips in mind. Be well.
I’ve lived with the challenges of diabetes for over 48 years, so I’m familiar with a certain level of frustration and discouragement. As a previous Medtronic pump user, I’m fairly new to the 670G, but I can relate to all of the problems you’re experiencing. I’m highly frustrated and angry. I’ve received the standard “programmed” optimistic responses from my pump trainer, which leads me to believe that her lack of personal experience with pump use leads to brain-washing by Medtronic and the set up of unrealistic expectations for the new user. I’ve experienced so many problems she claims are unique to me that I’ve actually questioned if this pump was ever rigorously beta-tested and how the FDA even approved its use. I’ll try your suggestions, as I’m at the point of returning to multiple injections.
This is extremely helpful. It’s 3:46am and I’m fighting with my incredible/horrible device. 🙂
I get into the “calibrate, BG required, wait to enter BG, calibrate” cycle often when it doesn’t believe my tester. I also have had it say auto mode is waiting on Active Insulin Updating for a really long time, and I haven’t figured that one out. Maybe I need to use manual mode more…
I, too, was up multiple times last night, after thinking I’d have a good night’s sleep. My sensor change came earlier than expected – I groggily took care of it, 2 hours later it was the BG/Calibrate loop which I wasn’t worried about just ignoring for several hours since my BG was on the higher side and there was little risk of me going low. Then about 2:30am it told me the “Second calibration failed, change sensor”. I don’t know if ya’ll have good, affordable co-pays with your insurance but I definitely do not. Now I’m about to insert sensor #2 as I watch dollar signs fly away.
What are some of your experiences asking Medtronic for new sensors when it obviously fails through no fault of my own? When I first started on the pump about 3 months ago, I messed one up on my own, called them & “confessed” and they send 1 new one and I got a bill for it.
Also, I know Medtronic likes to preach the sensors in abdomen, but where do others insert theirs? My stomach is already kind of scarred and I hate having so many (more) lumps and bumps. I’ve used the leg with some success, but also with some bleeding. I have a T1D friend on 630 who uses the backs of his arms to great success, but needs his wife to help with the insert. Thanks for any suggestions, and thanks for this great, helpful blog.
I’ve been on the 670 g for 6 months and am thoroughly disappointed with automode. Medtronic will celebrate that I am “in range” 98% BUT that means blood sugars of 180, which last for hours are okay. They are not! Consistently high BG will cause inflamation on coronary arteries and having had a quintuple by-pass I cannot afford the risk. I have been in/out of automode 6 times, returning each time with the hope that it would eventually be okay. It isn’t. There are: software bugs, the pump was rushed into production with FDA being placated. Very disappointed. In 3 1/2 years I will decide if I abandon medtronic after 17 years.
I’m a noob but here are my thoughts so far. Calibrate 1st about 20 mins after waking. If your BG is +/- 30% off from the CGM, wait until this has stabilised. Don’t calibrate if you’re high or low (arrows on screen) and avoid calibrating when you have active insulin. I also calibrate before lunch, and before evening meal, and finally once before bed (giving that window of > 12 hours before it pleads with you to calibrate, AGAIN!).
I’m finding micro bolus is hit and miss for me, but I get that the system is still learning me. I’ve had some fantastic days (90%+ TIR) but also some bad days when the pump doesn’t seem to want me to get back to range. I usually go into manual mode – correction dose and 130% sick temp basal).
How are you, and new on this pump now no the same as me before pump no complicated as this. Frustrater with this, but it is good to know I not the only one.