Short intro about the blog

This blog is about our journey to healing with Grade 3 Anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pump Woes

I’ve realized that I never formerly introduced our friends and family to the newest member of our family:  the BodyGuard 121 Twin Infusion System.  We call him “Phil” for short.  Well, actually, the FIRST pump we had was called Phil.  Before we had even left Houston we had already bid Phil goodbye and welcomed a replacement pump into our lives.  The first pump had major issues with priming, which is when we get all the air out of the bags in preparation for infusing.  I would kindly ask Phil to prime the air out, but he would refuse time and time again.  “Down Occlusion” he would snidely tell me, and no matter what I did, he would stubbornly refuse to prime.  So, we said goodbye to Phil.  Pump #2 was great.  I guess we never got around to naming him.  I was still hurting a bit from the fast and furious relationship I had with Phil, and wasn’t interested in building an intimate relationship with this one.  I just wanted him to work.  And work he did!!  Boy, could he prime.  He was consistent with his infusions and never let us down.  Good old #2. 

A few months passed and we got the startling news that Adam’s tumor was growing again.  We would have to increase the dose, and would be doing so in increments of 40ml per infusion per day.  Now, Pump #2 had had it quite easy up till now.  As long as the waters were smooth, #2 was reliable.  But, just like many fair-weather friends, he couldn’t handle the change in dosage.  Actually, it was a little more complicated than that.  It seems that #2 was not as consistent and reliable as I had always thought.  #2 was over-infusing all along, and I never suspected a thing.  Once we switched to three bags a day, however, his shenanigans came apparent, and we had to make a decision.  I loved #2, I really did.  But our nurse was worried about Adam overdosing on his meds.  Overdose, shoverdose.  #2 was a good pump.  So he was a bit fast.  We all have our faults.  Couldn’t we just keep #2?  NO.  The decision was made.  We would have to switch out #2 for a new pump.  So along came #3.  I was very wary of him right from the start.  Would he suffer from the same priming paranoia of Phil?  Would he infuse too fast?  Too slow??  I was starting to loose my confidence in BodyGuard and their pesky temperamental dual-infusion pumps.  I had no choice but to welcome #3 into our family, but I was determined not to get too emotionally involved.  I’d been disappointed and hurt before.  Not his time.

Things started off fine.  #3 primed without difficulty.  Adam seemed to be getting all his dosages, however it was a bit of an adjustment after #2.  I was used to Adam getting every drop out of each bag, but #3 left a little behind.  He was more accurate, yes, but I just can’t stand to see waste.  But, nevermind… I’ll just have to deal.  I needed to remind myself that #3 was giving Adam his exact dose, and that is what’s most important.  We were getting along fine until we got to the end of that first month.  Then #3 showed us his true colors.  He was a tightwad.  Big time.  I’ll explain…  We only get a limited amount of tubing for the month, and I always start to run low well before we’re due our next shipment.  So I have to recycle tubing (shhhh, don’t tell the FDA!).  I might have to use a set of tubing for a second day to make sure I have enough to last the month.  We-hell.  Mr. #3 wasn’t having it.  He demanded new tubing every day.  He just knew, he KNEW when I had put in the previous day’s tubing for one more go.  “Missing Key” he would tell me again and again.  In BodyGuard-ese that means that there’s no tubing in the channel.  Um… yes there is tubing, jerk.  I just installed it myself.  But, no, he would out-and-out refuse to infuse.  So I’d have to get new tubing out and pray to God that somehow we would make it to the next shipment.  This was annoying, but after a few days of this he decided to kick it up another notch.  Now he decided that not only did he want new tubing everyday, but between bag changes as well.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  I can’t change tubing twice a day.  No way.  I’m sorry #3 but this relationship just isn’t going to work.  I’ve had it.  Clinic, send me Pump #4.

At this point I’m stating to feel like J. Lo with all her ex’es.  We all know that J. Lo is hard work.  Who in their right mind would want to be married to such a primadonna?  Clearly her failed relationships are a sign that she has some serious problems.  But, wait.  What if my pump problems were actually because of… me?  What if I’M the problem?  I started to doubt myself, and took a long hard look in the mirror.  I decided right there and then that I would really work, and work hard to make this new relationship a success.  It had to.  For the sake of my family, my children.  It was up to me.  I pasted a smile on my face and joyfully invited Pump #4 into our home.  This was it.  This was going to be the best durn woman-pump union the world had ever known.  I was taking a vow and determined to live it to the full.  But, I did something sneaky.  I… kept… Pump #3.  I don’t know why I did it.  I thought that maybe if #4 didn’t work out, I would have #3 to fall back on.  It was deceitful and wrong.  I know that now.  My fourth relationship was based on a foundation of lies, and doomed from the beginning.  It didn’t take long for that act of poor judgment to catch up with me.  I think he knew.  He must have known I had a former pump lingering in the wings.  He just couldn’t handle it.  Pretty soon I started getting “Air in Line” error messages.  This isn’t unusual.  I’ve seen it before with other pumps.  You just locate the air bubble, work it out, and restart the infusion.  Quite straightforward.  But, not with #4.  He was sensitive… too sensitive.  He started crying wolf a lot.  “Air in Line” he would whine, but there was no air.  I tried to calm him down, and sometimes after a good talk he would start back up again.  But, one time there was air.  It destroyed him.  I worked the air out, checked and double checked again.  There was definitely absolutely no air left in the line.  But, he just shut himself off from me and refused to listen.  I couldn’t break through his shell.  He was determined not to let me in, and I could see that this union was not the union I had hoped for.  Finally, I pulled out #3 so Adam could finish his infusion.  And this next part, I’m not proud of.  I started using them both.  I would use #4 in the morning until he developed his air-phobia, then would switch to #3 at night.  When I needed to recycle tubing, I would switch back to #4.  I did this for a week and it destroyed my soul.  I was exhausted.  Trying to work with two pumps was killing me, but I didn’t know how to get out.  I was in too deep.  Finally I called one of the IV nurses at the clinic and confessed everything.  She was gentle and understanding.  And she told me what I just didn’t want to hear:  “You need to get another pump.”

It’s now been a week.  This time it really has been different.  As soon as #5 arrived, I immediately shipped off #3 and #4 back to the clinic.  In the same box.  I shudder to think about what that journey must have been like with the two of them so close together, but nevermind!  I can’t think about that now.  I’m focused on #5, and so far things are going really really well.  He primes, he infuses, he accepts recycled tubing and (I’m a little giddy about this)… he actually infuses a little fast.  Tee-hee.  I’m really excited and I’m thinking this just might work.  He might actually be “The One”!  Okay, wait a minute.  I’m still talking about the BodyGuard 121 Twin Infusion System right?  It’s a pump.  Just a pump.  Man, do I need to get a full-night’s sleep.


  1. Hahahahahaha this is great Vanessa. We too have had nothing but problems with our pump. We've been using the old one for over a year the old Sigma pump, but after 8 of them, we'd had it and now have the Bodyguard. This was very informative. I keep getting some of these errors, now I know what to do! Thank you!

  2. LOL!!! Vanessa, I am cracking up! I LOVE your attitude! (and boy, Im starting to think another visit/play date is in order...I want to meet of yours :p )

  3. This is amazing. Simply amazing. You are wonder-woman!!!!! You can deal with all this stress and pain, and still have such a sense of humor about everything!!