Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Just Wrap Me In a Dryer Sheet'

We all know how important our insulin pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitors can be in our D-Lives. So just think of what happens when there's an obstacle preventing one or both of those from functioning properly and as effectely as could be.

An obstacle such as: static electricity. Now that's annoying, even more than when a pant leg is all statically stuck and clinging to your leg.

That is a story my mom recently shared during the Thanksgiving holiday. Being a Type 1 diabetic herself since 1958, she'd been on injections during most of the decades until the Summer of 2001 a couple months after I'd started on pump treatment. She liked what she saw and made the move to Minimed, too. Through the years, she's transitioned to the Cozmo and Ping and back again and also now has the Dexcom CGM.

But what often presents a problem is that pesky static electricity.

Anywhere from once to four times a week and multiple times a day, her pump and CGM shut down briefly- just like when you take out a pump battery and then put it back in. No rhythm or reason, and answers are elusive on why this happens. The static electricity doesn't seem to hurt the pump or CGM, but it just makes it play dead for a bit.

Apparently, this is something that other members of the Diabetes Community have reported happening, too. The device-makers know about it, but don't have many solutions from their manufacturing end except to offer their own advice on how we PWD should reshape parts of our wardrobe or life.

My mom reports that the Dexcom people say what the Minimed: Always keep the device in the case. Never in a pocket. Don't wear the device up against your skin. One person suggested not sleeping on cotton sheets or wearing any night clothes that are 100% cotton. Instead, spend whatever amount of money you need to in order to prevent this from happening.

Mainly, the advice most commonly offered: Use fabric softener, and wrap the pump in a dryer sheet to prevent it from sucking up the static electricity.

Mom: "That really didn't do anything. They want you to spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes and bedsheets after you've already spent thousands on this CGM. They should just wrap me in a dryer sheet."

For my mom, she says the pump is more of a concern than the CGM being statically-hindered: "I've survived without it (a CGM) for so long," she says in reference to her half-century of mostly insulin injection therapy. "I would be much more devastated if my pump died."

Now, personally, I've never had a problem with random resetting or any static electricity issue. But I can understand how this is a frustrating happening, when you trust a high-cost device such as a pump or CGM to do what it needs to keep you safe and healthy. If that were an issue for me, I'd probably be raising Cain with those device-manufacturers who should be trying to address this issue at the production level.

But in the meantime, I'd stock up on dryer sheets just in case.

7 comments:

Sara said...

I have never heard of that happening before either - well, except for related to theme park roller coasters. But not the static electricity of everyday life.

Jonah said...

I assume that climate is the biggest factor in how much static electricity you get.
My only static electricity problem is that the hairs on my arms and leg and stomach stand up and bend towards the adhesive as I'm putting the Dexcom sensor on, so as many as possible get between the sensor and my skin.

Alexis of Justices Misbehaving Pancreas said...

wow never hard of this either! Youd thin k they would take care of that issue...

Reyna said...

Wow...I didn't know your mom was a type 1.

And, secondly BUMMER on the static electricity issue. I haven't heard of that being a problem. Seems like such a pesky thing to be dealing with...one that should be somewhat easy to fix I would think.

Mike LeBlanc said...

Thanks for posting this Michael. I'll keep it in mind if ever my daughter's pump starts misbehaving. As helpful as they are, these devices can also often be very temperamental !

Cheryl said...

A tip I read to keep static electricity from building up on clothing, particularly an item like pants that tend to stick to one's sock's during the winter months, is to close a small safety pin into the hem. Apparently that will help to keep the static away. Problematic though in that you would need to remember to remove the pins before washing. Nothing worse than having little metal safety pins rusting in the hem of your clothes.

Jessica said...

Maybe we should contact Static Guard to give us a group discount! :) Thanks for sharing your story. I, too, had no idea your Mom was Type 1.