I’ve mentioned before that I often fill my pump reservoirs from insulin pen cartridges. They’re a convenient and compact size, plus they can be dropped into pens for emergency backup use.
It makes for a quick and convenient fill process, where instead of “sucking” insulin out of a vial, I “push” the insulin down into the reservoir, push any air bubbles back up, and push the insulin down. There’s no need to (and in fact sometimes a bad move to) inject air before withdrawing insulin (as we do with vials). But pushing the pen cartridge plunger downwards needs something both thin and long enough to reach.
I sometimes use a pencil (as shown in my 2021 “Pump refill kits” article). Sometimes I’ve used a car key (although it’s not long enough to reach all the way to the bottom. Sometimes a screwdriver (as shown in this photo). Sometimes the arm of my glasses (although this can make it harder to see the details of bubbles). A have a thin ballpoint pen that’s sometimes on hand.
But following on from a comment from a fellow looper who made something out of the syringe in an Omnipod kit, I’ve now added a new “gadget” to my kit. Unlike some of my kit, it’s very low-tech!
Hardly a gadget
I grabbed a 3mL syringe off the shelf (last seen in this blog in “Filling an Omnipod“), pulled the plunger out, and cut the rubber tip off with a craft knife.
The result is a simple plastic stick, which happens to be perfectly sized for the job of pushing insulin out of a pen cartridge. The flat end doesn’t dig or cut into the rubber plunger in the cartridge.
The plastic is very light, which makes me happy when packing for a trip. I’m not quite at the level of someone investing in a titanium spork for a camping trip. But when flying with lots of camera, diabetes, and computer gear, every gram adds up.
As you can see, it perfectly suits the size of a Novo Penfill cartridge. It also neatly fits Humalog and Apidra cartridges.
And just so I don’t lose track of this “very special” device, it happens to fit neatly into the Ypsomed carrier box I use for filled PumpCart reservoirs. I never fill the box completely: every few weeks I usually convert three pen cartridges into 5 PumpCarts.
It’s OK to use “stone age” tools in conjunction with our high-tech tools: it’s how neatly the overall system works for us which is important.