It’s been over 5 months since I’ve started cortisol pumping to manage my adrenal insufficiency.
I continue to improve thanks to careful management of the pump, lifestyle changes, and reconditioning my body. It’s been a game changer for me, and I’m incredibly grateful for this treatment.
I started this journey back in June with a Tandem Tslim infusion pump. I used this pump for about 3 months and loved it. However, at the beginning of October, the Tslim croaked. I plugged it into a car charger, and smoke came out of the charging port. My poor tslim was fried! 😐
Fortunately, I had just found and purchased a used Animas Ping on Craigslist. Talk about great timing! I’ve been using the Ping since then and wanted to review both pumps from the perspective of a cortisol pumper.
Both pumps are waterproof. You can shower or swim with them. Both use luer lock connections, so you can use the same infusion sets with either pump.
THE TANDEM TSLIM
The tslim is all the rage right now in the diabetes world. It’s tiny, yet has a big 3ml capacity, it’s water proof, and is currently the only pump with a touch screen.
-Small and discreet. It’s easy to hide the tslim just about anywhere. Also the belt/waistband clip is pretty cute and comes in a variety of colors.
– Large capacity. This is one of my favorite things about the Tslim. Despite being so small, it can still hold 3ml, which if you mix 1:1 would be 300mgs of SoluCortef. This is convenient for those on a higher dosage.
– Touch screen. The touch screen and user interface are incredibly easy to use. If you can use a smart phone you will have no issues at all with the tslim. It’s so convenient to just dial in a number, or touch a menu option, rather than using arrow buttons to set numbers or scroll through menus.
-Surprisingly durable. The tslim is surprisingly tough for such a little thing. After mine died, I attempted to have it fixed by an engineer. He told me if he were to need a pump this is what he would get. It’s so well made it could not be disassembled even with professional tools and a microscope. So fear not, the tslim is definitely not as fragile as a smart phone.
Overall, I think the small size, large capacity and ease of use are best things about the tslim.
-Priming/Reloading. Reloading the cartridge itself takes about as long as any other cartridge, however priming the tubing takes a loooong time. The tslim pumps slow, and it boluses slooowww. It’s no issue for normal basal delivery, but during the priming process and when you’re waiting on a bolus, this gets rather annoying.
– Cost. Your cost is entirely dependent on your insurance coverage. I bought my tslim out of pocket used and it was MUCH more expensive than the Animas Ping.
– Clip comes separately. The cute belt clip I was just talking about? Yeah, you have to buy that separately. It’s $20. Of course that’s not going to break the bank, but you’d think the clip would be included like with the Ping.
– Recharging. You would think the lack of batteries and recharging capability would be a “pro,” but in my opinion its a “con.” It can be awkward being plugged in while recharging the tslim. If you do it while you’re awake, you are pretty much stuck in one spot for a while. I would charge while I was asleep, and that worked okay, but sometimes I’d get wrapped in the cord if I tossed and turned. Some other tslim users charge while in the car, and that sounds much more convenient, but that’s how mine got fried so…it didn’t work out for me. 😐
-25 unit Bolus limit. Tslim will only allow you to bolus 25 units in a 2 hour time period. This is not couting your Basal rate. This means the max you could Bolus in 2 hours is 25mgs. One could argue that if you need more than 25mg it would be smarter to inject. That is probably true, but I’d like to know I could bolus more than 25mg in 2 hours if I really needed to.
– Alarms. The low unit alarm goes off at either 20 or 10 units depending on what you choose. Once it reaches this amount it does not stop alarming. It. Does. Not. Stop. So if you can’t drop everything to fill your cartridge right then, you will be nagged incessantly. You could also consider this a “pro” because it is not going to let you forget to refill it, lol!
THE ANIMAS PING
I had to warm up to the ping. Going from my fancy tslim to the ping with fewer bells and whistles, I just wasn’t impressed, but my feelings on the Ping have changed. It has all the same capabilites as the Tslim.
– Pumps fast. So you know how I was just complaining about how long the tslim takes to prime tubing? The ping definitely does not have this problem. It takes only a few seconds to fill your tubing. Boluses are pretty much instant. Much better!
– No extra syringes required. Each of the Ping’s cartridges is its own syringe, so you don’t need a separate syringe to load. So that’s one less thing you have to carry around and one less thing to pick up from the pharmacy.
– Total Daily Dose. I log my pump’s delivery history in an app. With the tslim I had to go to Basal history, then go to bolus history, then add those together for a total. With the Ping, all of this info is in one place. Basal, Bolus and total is right there conveniently under one menu option. I love this feature!
-Battery powered. The ping uses 1 AA battery and it need to be non-rechargeable lithium. These are a lot more expensive than normal alkaline batteries, but OMG they last such a long time it is worth it. I’ve been using the same lithuim battery for about a month now and it’s barely at the halfway mark. This definitely beats being plugged in for a recharge!
-More commonly used. There seems to be more people using the Ping than the newer and more expensive T-slim. This makes second-hand supplies easier to find online in places like Craigslist and Facebook. If insurance pays for your supplies, then it’s not an issue, but for someone like me paying my own way this is a HUGE benefit.
-No touch screen. You have to use the arrow buttons to scroll through menus, but this is really only a minor inconvenience.
-Low units alarm. The alarm on the ping will also go off at either 20 or 10 units depending on the setting you choose. The difference with the ping is that once you hit the “ok” button and acknowledge the alarm, you wont hear a peep from it again until you are completely out of SoluCortef in your pump. This is nice if you don’t want to drop everything and refill your pump, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “okayed” the alarm and then completely forgot to mix up more SoluCortef. Then I’m caught off guard with “no delivery” and in a frantic rush to mix up more med and fill my pump.
-Bulky. This pump is a little harder to hide than the tslim due the shape of the cartridge and the need to accommadate a battery. Honestly though, at this stage of the game I don’t really care about hiding my pump. I’ve gotten lazy and I hardly ever bother tucking it away in a belt anymore. These days I just clip the Ping on my waist band and could care less about it being out in the open.
-Less med capacity. The Ping only holds 200 units. At a 1:1 ratio that’s 200mg’s of Solu-Cortef. For someone on a smaller dosage, that’s not a problem. However, my dosage is higher than most, so for me this is my biggest annoyance with the ping.
Both pumps I aquired second hand and paid out of pocket. Both are excellent pumps, but considering how much less the ping cost me, I’m pretty happy with the ping and would recommend it to any cortisol pumper. It can do everthing the tslim can, and the dosage history is all conveniently in one place. Smaller med capacity is kind of a pain, but all things considered, not that big of a deal. However, if I were in the future to get insurance to cover a new pump, I’d switch back to the tslim in a heart beat.
*UPDATE (9/15/17): Tandem has since switched to proprietary connections on the tubing. This means it is no longer leur-lock compatible and you would almost have to buy insets directly from tandem. That considered, I think the only real plus to tslim is the touch screen. So in my opinion, the Animas Ping is the winner here.