It’s been a while! I had a busy fall finishing up my PhD and started picking up more hours at my diabetes education job. What hasn’t been crazy though is my diabetes management.
For those who have been following my journey, I started DIY Omnipod Loop back in April 2019. It was fantastic. It brought my diabetes management to a level of control I didn’t realize was possible with such little mental burden. But, using a DIY system comes with a few downfalls. Aside from technical glitches and troubleshooting, I felt attached to my phone and my RileyLink device… If I left them in another room a BG disaster started brewing. The battery on my phone was also an issue for a while and dead phone = no working system. I had a lot of skin irritation from the pods, but I knew this may happen eventually from past pod experiences. But one of the biggest issues for me was cost. I was changing my pods every other day, and pods are expensive!!! So when I had the opportunity to give ControlIQ a try through the provider early access program, I jumped on it.
Before diving into the nitty gritty, you are probably wondering how I’m actually doing on ControlIQ. It’s been amazing. See below for an overview of the past two weeks:
So how did I get started on ControlIQ? To initiate the software upgrade process, I logged into the upgrade portal using my tconnect username and password. If you don’t have a tconnect account and plan on upgrading, make one ASAP! Then, I had to request a prescription from my endo (or my favorite PharmD- shout to to Diana Isaacs) for the ControlIQ software. Once the prescription was received and processed by Tandem, I had to complete a ~40 minute training with videos and questions. Then, the upgrade code was released. I had to use a computer with the device updater software (found on the Tandem website) installed. It downloaded so quickly and I was ready to go!
The transition from Loop to the tslim was pretty smooth. I used BasalIQ for 72 hours before upgrading to ControlIQ. Switching between pumps sometimes warrants insulin setting adjustments due to differences in insulin delivery mechanisms. I had time to do some basal testing, and made adjustments accordingly. My first few days on ControlIQ were incredibly smooth. It is important to mention that while Looping, I made my sensitivity (ISF) for BG corrections and my carb ratios quite aggressive. I kept them just as aggressive for ControlIQ. See first few days below:
And don’t worry, that one hypo and rebound on December 19th was from human error! That’s right, human error! I gave an accidental 45 min pre-bolus (not suggested) because of distraction and the crock pot stew being boiling hot. The pump helped quite a bit, but I still felt nervous and over treated the hypo. Some cool things to note on the Tconnect report- you can see where I started sleep mode (which is a more aggressive basal adjustment without correction doses). I have loved using sleep mode except when I eat higher fat dinners on the weekends and in those cases, I leave it off. For those nights, I need the hourly correction that the pump gives outside of sleep mode.
Other great news- I SURVIVED THE HOLIDAYS! Take a look at Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (yes, I’m Jewish but my boyfriend’s family celebrates!) and New Years Eve. Wow.
Now here’s where I noticed some trouble my time in range was dropping down to 70 on Friday night through Sunday afternoon (oh no…). So… eating on the weekends… am I miscounting (underestimating) carbs when eating out? Maybe. Or, could I try more aggressive carb ratios and higher basals to counter high fat meals? Yes. Still playing around with it, but it seems to be improving my time in range.
Now let’s take a look at how this did while traveling and countering a time difference (1 hour behind).
But the biggest problem so far has been EXERCISE. I tried exercise mode 2 hours prior to a 45 minute cardio session and went straight down. Currently playing around with another profile for exercise with reduced basals, and simply going back out of ControlIQ and using a 70% temp basal. Will keep you posted!
Wrapping up, here are some of my answers to everyone’s questions…
Insulin duration is fixed at 5 hours. This is not a problem like everyone fears. I find many of my patients have insulin duration times (IOB, or insulin action) that isn’t optimal and can result in stacking insulin. The true insulin curve for aspart/lispro follows a curve over 4.5-6 hours. This fixed insulin duration is non-linear (like previous settings have used) and follows more of a true insulin curve. With essentially 0 hypos on this system, I guarantee this setting will work just fine for most.
Does the system kick you out of ControlIQ mode easily? No! There are no requirements to staying in ControlIQ besides not exceeding your maximum delivery (50% of your total daily dose in a 2 hour window). The only other time you will exit ControlIQ is with more than 20 minutes of Dexcom signal loss and when changing your CGM sensor every 10 days.
But the target BG is fixed at 110/112.5… what if I want a lower range? My range has always been set lower than this. With Loop, I had it set at 85 and saw pretty similar BGs. It isn’t as big of a problem as I expected.
Signal loss? In the training video (required before you can actually upgrade the device), it discusses ways to prevent signal loss. This is key! I’ve followed their tips religiously and kept my CGM sensor and pump on the same side of my body. I keep my pump screen facing away from my body. I’ve experienced little to no signal loss.
Do you have to enter fake carbs? NO. It is not recommended to enter fake carbs. You are able to override and underride all suggested boluses when using ControlIQ, and can give correction boluses as needed. If you find you are giving many correction boluses, your insulin settings may need to be adjusted with your healthcare provider.
Overall, it is KEY to know that the algorithm makes decisions partially off of the pre-programmed basal rates, sensitivity and carb ratios. This significantly differs from the other commercially available automated insulin delivery system. This is a totally different system. Users will experience different issues and figure out different tricks. For now, the magical keys to the system are working with your healthcare team to determine your insulin settings to optimize your results, pre-bolusing!!!, and not tricking the system or rage bolusing. If you let the system do its thing, you will be happier with your results.
It is important to mention my personal diabetes philosophy. I am happy with my self-management outcomes if I achieve the clinical time in range goal of spending >70% time between 70-180 mg/dL, an HbA1c below 7 (most recent HbA1c was yesterday and it was 6.3, during the fall it was 6.5, over the summer it was 6.0 even though Dexcom always predicts about 0.5% higher!), minimal time below 70 and spend limited time thinking about diabetes throughout the day. On both Loop and ControlIQ, I was able to exceed these goals.