Friday, 19 January 2018

Adieu, Animas

We knew it was coming, in all honesty.  When Animas Corp announced in October that their US operations were to close up shop and exit the insulin pump market, the elephant in the room no-one wanted to look directly in the eye was that the UK market operations would most likely follow. There were rumours, there were assumptions, and there was a shed load of speculation. Although insulin pump sales have been strong in the UK a global company like Johnson and Johnson has to look at the bigger picture.  And globally the Vibe pump market wasn't holding up.  As of this week, Animas have confirmed that they are to follow their US counterparts, and cease trading.  

My personal relationship with Animas has been a wonderful one.  I became involved with them by inadvertently inviting myself on their second sports weekend as the official blogger, before I had officially been asked.  They took it well and quietly confirmed I could go, but wen I arrived I was the only person who was noticeably overweight.  Horrified and convinced of the mistake I'd made, I toyed with the idea of slipping out early or feigning illness to avoid the mortifying embarrassment of being surrounded by an alien population of marathon-runners and semi-professional cyclists, but realised I had to do the job I was there to do.  After all, I'd invited myself - I could hardly back out now.  By the end of that weekend I had for the first time as an adult truly understood the power of being shoulder-to-shoulder with my diabetes brethren.

The next year I was invited back (officially, this time) and had used the tools from that weekend to lose almost 3 stone.  I was given the opportunity to share that journey with the attendees in a talk; my way of sharing with any other people there, worried about their weight or about being the odd-one-out, that they were not alone.  We are never truly alone, but somehow the sports weekend really hits that home.  Having a chance to share my struggles with my weight was a milestone moment for me, and it was Animas who gave me the space and platform to do that.

I decided to start using the Vibe when it was released, because as much as I liked my Medtronic and found their customer service superb, I was all kinds of done with kinky (not the fun kind) cannulas, and I wanted to get back in the water.  The Vibe was my partner in crime when I got back in the Cornish waves, and for the first time I realised the value of a waterproof pump.

I started running out of ways to say 'more awesome than awesome' as I was given the chance to return to the sports weekends year after year, so started to compile videos of Sports Weekend posts, because every year they exceed every expectation I could hold.

My Vibe travelled with me down under, and helped me traverse pregnancy, helping my daughter arrive safely in this world, a perfect little soul completely untouched by the constant change and mammoth challenge of a diabetic pregnancy.  Once again, Animas allowed me to share that by giving me the space to do so, because they seemed to 'get' what a scary time pregnancy can be, and that other uneasy wannabe mothers might just need to hear that it will be OK. It will be, by the way.

I'm going to miss them.  I'm going to miss them big.

Any time a medical tech company - particularly a giant like Animas - leaves the market it is a serious loss.  Losing any method of diabetes management (except for that lancing device which had the needle on the OUTSIDE! Because which idiot thought that would help us test more?!), means that people with diabetes have less options, and less options is a step backwards, no matter your taste in pump.

Oh, hell no.

I have enjoyed everything about my time with Animas, from meeting inspirational Heroes, to making lifelong friends at the sports events, to having a place to share my small but nonetheless shareable experiences. 

And I now have a mammoth task on my hands, because while I wasn't watching my pump warranty expired.  It expired a couple of weeks before Animas stopped taking new customers on.  It stopped a month before their formal letter notifying the world they were to stop trading.

I don't have a clue which pump I will try.  I don't even want to think about it right now.  I don't want to accept that my beloved Vibe has days which are numbered. It fucking sucks, if I'm honest.


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