After Midnight


"Mom?"  My eyes must have opened slightly, or I mumbled something.

"Something's wrong with my pump."

And then I was awake.

"It was beeping when it woke me up … booEEp, booEEp … but now it's dead. Nothing happens when I push the buttons. And it's hot."

It was the wee hours of the morning. We were on vacation in a cottage near the beach.

"Ok- let's see."

I got up and followed her back to her little room where we turned on a light and set to work.

Hoping the simplest explanation was the right one, I took out the battery, using a coin from the pile on her bedside table set aside for an expedition to the penny candy store. The battery was hot.

I inserted a new battery and screwed the cap back on. I prayed, thought good thoughts, and implored the diabetes gods for mercy. The pump would spring back to life. We would not, in the middle of the night, on vacation, have to go back to injecting insulin for the first time in 13 years.

Time stood still for an infinite moment and then, there it was, the familiar alien-like startup beep of the Animas pump. I confirmed, when prompted, the battery type, and the date and time, which were reassuringly still correct. Then, as the pump requires with every battery replacement, I set in motion a full rewind of the cartridge area. Knowing that the full rewind also signals the pump to perform a full system check I once again sent out pleas to the universe that a pump failure would not, please, be among our vacation memories.

The motor whirred. And whirred. And whirred. And then...

"beep!" Just the usual, friendly little 'I'm ready,' beep. I finished the process and my daughter reconnected.

Still more than a little freaked out, and now wide awake, I photographed every pump setting, not sure if my most recent records were recent enough. I tucked my daughter in and returned to bed where I lay; not at all optimistic that the crisis had actually been averted. I considered all of the options for obtaining a replacement pump if need be. I sorted out what I could remember about multiple daily injections. I tried to figure out what had happened in the first place. I got up twice to make sure her blood sugar was staying steady- that the pump was still working correctly.

In the light of day, with the pump working properly again, the explanation seemed fairly logical. The hot battery was familiar from times we've changed it after the 'I'm going to die in half an hour or less' warning. The initial low battery warning, indicating a couple of days' power remaining, had been visible on the pump for at least most of that day, my daughter said, and she'd planned to change it during the next day's site change.  But it's possible it had been there longer, since we were in vacation mode and, as is our custom, paying less attention to diabetes than usual while enjoying vacation things. Or maybe the battery died a little faster than usual with all the extra use for vacation food. Maybe the pump alarmed for the full half an hour foretelling its imminent demise, and simply didn't wake my daughter from her vacation-induced deep slumber - we'd been out late and came home tired.

All that really matters is that the new battery continues to work just fine, a couple of weeks later, and we were able to enjoy the rest of our vacation.

1 comment:

  1. I know I am hyper about batteries and the like, but when I see a battery warning, I change immediately. I might give it an hour but no more. I know she is younger but I suggest she carry a battery and help her realize one of these can be fatal at the wrong time and place.


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