Friday, January 8, 2010

My own personal enteral pump hell

I have been on pump-assisted tube-feeding for over a year now. Within this year I have gone through three Sondomat plus pumps and one trial run of an Applix pump.

For the longest time I had problems with my pump not alarming when the bag was empty and just pumping air into my stomach...
I therefore went through all those Sondomat Plus pumps and the Applix pump trying to find a pump that would finally work for me. But usually after a few weeks, each and every pump was as bad as the last. We then realized that my enteral formula has a very high viscosity and therefore all the pumps have a really hard time recognizing an empty bag/ giving set, as there is always some residue left. I then had the very brilliant idea of programming a set tubefeeding volume and that way the pump alarmed when the goal volume was reached. Ever since then I have been using the same Sondomat plus pump and have been quite happy with it.

Last night, at 2.39 to be precise, my pump started alarming, I woke up and realized that I had forgotten to recharge the battery and thought that the battery must be running low. I switched on the light, looked at the display and realized that it didn't show the symbol for low battery. I stopped the alarm, attached battery cable nonetheless, switched the pump back on - and E11 - it said on my display. I then got up, somehow managed to find the user manual for the pump, flipped through the troubleshooting section and there it was: E11 - error message - call service!
I went back to bed, tried to restart the pump a few more times, finally gave up and tried to fall back asleep feeling very defeated.

In the morning I got up, called my homecare agency, talked to my regional coordinator and was told that the Sondomat plus is a really old pump, not being manufactured anymore and that I had to switch over to an Applix pump. I have already once tried an Applix pump and I actually preferred my old-fashioned Sondomat. She then had an enteral care nurse come over (incidently the same very knowledgable nurse that I saw for a consultation regarding my stoma care on Tuesday, but that will be an entire post by itself), deliver the new pump and explain it to M, as I was working all day.
M recharged it all afternoon, and when I came home just before 6 PM I could not wait to have a look at it and program it for later. I opened the door to our bedroom and of course my cats ran into the bedroom. I therefore unplugged the charging cable and put it away to keep it safe from those sharp teeth of my feline companions.

I then proceeded to switch on the pump. Nothing happened. Tried it again. Nothing. What the f....?
Plugged the cable back in, switched the pump on, and yes it worked. Unplugged it while the pump was on and the display turned black once more. It didn't even make one single beep that it was low on battery or something, it just turned itself off.

Called my regional coordinator again, feeling a bit bad, as it was Friday evening. She was not impressed and I guess first didn't believe me. I tried telling her that a pump that would not run on battery is not something I can live with, not even over the weekend. The problem is that due to the fact that I have to work with a set volume, I can't just unplug myself and wheel my IV-pole to a different room and plug the pump back in because the pump will always reset itself after being turned off, meaning that the amount that had been delivered thus far would not be memorized, I would have to write that down before switching the pump off, and subtract that amount from my set volume and program a new set volume!!!

I asked her if there was really no other pump for me available in all of Vienna, also telling her that the pump that I was given was way past its last service date. She then admitted that she had a brand-new Applix pump at home, but in the same breath told me that there was no way that she would get to me tonight with the weather being that bad. I told her that I of course understood that, I just didn't want to get by with this malfunctioning pump over the weekend, and could I possibly come and pick up the pump myself tomorrow morning?

No, I don't have to do that, she will come by tomorrow morning and deliver the pump to me personally. Please keep your fingers crossed that the pump I will get tomorrow will be working well!


Anonymous said...

sorry to laugh with your pump problems~just how much more must a girl go through to get a good nights feed?

those are kinda lame pumps with those function not to mention how tired the pumps must be to fail so easy.

At least the infinity holds the vol given thus far~throws it into a total when you turn it off (or if should flip off~not) it starts you on a new zero for the future conditional feed, and with a second push you have your old given total (I clear both to zero at the start of every feed).

Now, I am having a problem with my big guy's adult formula not flowing at the rate it says it is flowing~the reason I believe I have so much extra in the bag at the end of a 1200ml feed~it is too thick I am thinking too.

I can test it I guess~but I get "no flow in" alerts also (I can't believe you have to look up a code with the screen technology~geez it should be touch screen).

Usually I see "no flow out" meaning I forgot to un clamp or the line is folded. I RV with both kids pumping and the cold really eats my battery power~only really getting one night without a cord (and our puppy ate through one cord and now two pumps to run on one cord ( (and with the earthquakes I am wanting to keep them both at full charge~no wonder I find your pump world so interesting~I'm charging and changing all day).

I want a pump the size of a iphone~is there an app for that!


Stephanie said...

You ought to look into the Zevex Enteralite Infinity pump. Now Moog owns the company, but they still use the name Zevex.
It's so small and quiet. It has the longest battery life of any portable pump on the market. If you homecare company can't find them you can contact them yourself at their website and they will arrange to get one for your home healthcare company. It really is an awesome little pump.
It can also run on a set volume, do set interval feedings, and lots of other options.

Natie said...

I am on the Infinity pump as well and while I have only limited experience with the Joey during hospital stays, I must say I love my EnteraLite Infinity pump. It is amazing and quiet and is very accurate in feeding speeds and volumes.