I have been running through cold Canadian winters for years now.
I have run through 6 Canadian winters wearing an insulin pump.
I protect my pump from cold temperatures by clipping it to the waist of my running pants and then making sure that my upper layers cover it. The pump still gets fairly cold but I rarely ever had problems with insulin freezing or pumps malfunctioning.
This year, I am introducing Rose to the joy of running in the cold. She survived the warm Canadian summer and did quite well on long runs in hot, humid temperatures. No problems for her at all. She has yet to experience a Canadian winter.
As of last Friday, she has been on three runs that I would say were slightly cold. As in I wore pants. Each run was about 5 degrees celsius (41 degrees fahrenheit). Above freezing and about 35 degrees away from the -30 degree runs she'll be doing in January.
Each of those three runs were between 5k and 7k. That means 35-50 minutes of running. A far cry from the 2 hour cold runs she'll be doing later on.
And yet on each of those three coolish runs, she stopped working.
When I checked her partway through the run, I was greeted by a message saying 'pump is not primed'. That means that Rose was not delivering insulin and would not deliver insulin until I unhooked her, primed her and then hooked her back up again. Not something that is easy to do when I'm running.
Once I got home and primed her properly, everything was fine.
On Friday afternoon, I called Animas. I spoke to a gentleman and explained my problem. He asked me a bunch of questions. He quickly realized that I had figured out a pattern and eliminated most other variables that may have caused the problem. He was in the US so it took us a bit of time to figure out the temperature conversion and talk in a common language.
He was not sure what the problem was and suggested that the newer pumps (aka the Animas Vibe) were likely more sensitive than the one I had used before (aka the Animas One Touch Ping). I politely asked how people in cold climates were supposed to survive the winter if the pump stopped working when it wasn't even freezing yet. He asked if it got much colder than 5 degrees where I lived. I laughed and said that it wasn't even close to cold yet.
He suggested I protect the pump when I went outside in the cold. Maybe put a sock over it. I said that I had never had to do that before with my other insulin pumps (Animas or Medtronic).
I asked if anyone else had complained about this issue and he said he had not heard of anyone else complaining. He offered to send me a new pump. I hesitated because I already had a new pump. Rose is hardly 6 months old yet and I do enjoy her company. I hate to send her back without giving her a few more test runs in the cold.
On the other hand, I can't be running 16k on Boxing Day with her not working after the first ten minutes. There is no way I can run that long without insulin and no way I'm stopping on the side of the road, digging through 3 layers of clothes to unhook her, prime her, hook her back up and hope it doesn't happen again in five minutes.
I told him I would try her on a few more 'cold' morning runs and call back if the problem continued. He said that was fine and assured me that our conversation was documented and would be accessible to the next person I spoke with at customer support. I thanked him for his time.
The next morning I headed out in 3 degrees celsius. It was raining and very windy. I wore two thin tops and a vest. I checked Rose every 2k and every 2k she happily showed me my blood sugar. She never once send me an error message and, even when I lifted my shirt to expose her to the cold toward the end of the run, she performed beautifully.
Perhaps it was the fear that I would send her back.
Perhaps her previous three error messages had nothing to do with cold temperatures.
Perhaps perhaps perhaps.
I'm not ready to believe her quite yet and I'll keep you posted as the temperatures keep dropping in Canada.