Champagne Bubbles

I stirred in my sleep.

A glance at the alarm clock behind my bed indicated that it was almost 3am.

I stuck my arm out from under the covers, fumbling around on the bedside table for my Libre reader.

A quick scan of my arm registered 8.6.

I knew what was wrong.

I gave a generous correction of 2 units, but I knew it wasn’t enough. I contemplated a temp basal rate, but I knew that I would only be putting band aids on the real problem.

Besides, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to lie still while knowing what I needed to do.

I sprang out of bed, switched on the lights and reached for the box of t:slim cartridges from my wardrobe. I made a dash through the hall and the dining room, making a beeline for the bar fridge where cold insulin was sitting.

I had swapped out my insulin cartridge just after dinner several hours earlier. I knew I hadn’t chosen the best timing before bed, but at the same time I prefer to run my insulin down to the wire if I can.

I knew I had drawn a lot of those fizzy little champagne bubbles into my syringe as I was drawing the air out of my empty t:slim cartridge. Part of me suspected that I hadn’t successfully drawn all of the air out of my t:slim cartridge amid those champagne bubbles.

I’ve had my fair share of moments like these in the four months since I’ve been using the t:slim. As much as I love this pump, it’s beauty, it’s wearability and it’s positive impact on minimising my device fatigue, I absolutely hate that I can’t see what’s going on inside those insulin cartridges. Which means that I’ve had to learn to rely on intuition.

I’ve come to assume that when I haven’t properly drawn all of the air out of my cartridge prior to filling it with insulin (a.k.a. champagne bubbles), the delivery of insulin from the pump is compromised. My blood sugars feel sluggish and harder to manage, even if I can’t see any visible signs of air bubbles in my pump line.

I’m slowly but surely working on my technique. Making sure my insulin is as room temperature. Pushing insulin from my penfill cartridge into my syringe using a pencil, rather than pulling. Holding my cartridge upright. Being really gentle with my syringe when I’m drawing from it.

Who knew diabetes was such a fine art?


  1. tony sangster

    A brilliant post, Frank. I believe Tandem is working on the issue of the opaque reservoir. One would have thought that any air bubbles in the first part of the tubing might have set off an alarm. A question about sensitivity ?

  2. Elinor

    My son draws air out of the cartridge with the empty syringe then uses that air to put in the insulin vial and fill the syringe with insulin. He’s had better success with this method. Do agree it would be great to be able to see what is going on in the cartridge. If you could see the bag completely collapsed, you would know there is no air in there.

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