Insulin pumps can be pretty intimidating.
You might wonder: Will people stare? Will you get tired of being reminded I have diabetes? Will it hurt or get in my way?
These are all things I thought when I was first approached about going on the insulin pump. It was the late 1990s when my endocrinologist told me about insulin pumps and suggested I get on one to help with my diabetes management. I wanted nothing to do with it. I flat-out refused, saying I didn’t want something hooked up to me all the time. Gross.
Then I went to diabetes camp and I saw a whole bunch of kids with insulin pumps. They thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. They told me they could eat sliced bread whenever they wanted – that’s how cool it was! Okay, so I made that part up. But they did tell me about the freedom and flexibility to eat what they wanted, when they wanted. They didn’t have to worry about peaking insulin and low blood sugar. They made it seem like diabetes got so much easier.
Deciding to Switch to an Insulin Pump
Eventually I caved, but it wasn’t because of the freedom and flexibility. My endocrinologist told me that in order to manage my diabetes, I really needed to take a fifth shot of insulin to cover the carbs in my lunch. The NPH insulin just wasn’t cutting it anymore. That would be a shot at breakfast, lunch, after school (because the NPH didn’t last long enough), dinner and bedtime. Goodness gracious that was a lot of shots! So I said, fine, I’ll go on the pump.
And I truly loved it. First: no shots. For me, shots hurt like the dickens. It doesn’t hurt for everyone, but I must have really sensitive skin because I bruise and bleed easily on shots, but not on the pump. Second, you really do have the ability to eat when and what you please, which is a nice change from a regimented meal plan. I felt like a regular teenager, eating late-night snacks with her friends. Of course, just because you can eat whatever you want, doesn’t mean you should! Nutrition guidelines for healthy eating apply to everyone, functioning pancreas or not!
What I Came to Realize About Insulin Pumps
The worries I had about noticing my diabetes more were more-or-less unfounded. Taking a ton of shots is a pretty regular reminder you have diabetes, and in the back of your mind, always being worried about going low or high is no fun at all. Not that these worries go away on the pump, but they are certainly still there on shots. There’s really never a time I don’t notice I have diabetes. But other people? They are mostly clueless. Most people never say a word about my pump.
Occasionally I would spot someone else with an insulin pump – and I always got excited when I spotted another PWD (person with diabetes) “in the wild.” I actually think showing off an insulin pump can be beneficial, because you never know who might notice it and realize they aren’t alone in the world.
Practical Benefits of Insulin Pumps
But mostly there are practical applications to having an insulin pump that overpower any con I could think of. Being able to use temporary basal rates when traveling or when I’m sick has been a lifesaver. An extended bolus feature for fatty, high-carb meals has been a relief to my blood sugar. And of course, the dawn phenomenon is no match for a varying basal rate. These pump features have made it so much easier to manage my blood sugar compared to multiple daily injections.
If you’re on the fence about using an insulin pump, I would encourage you to examine the potential gains of going on an insulin pump versus your fears. Most pump companies have a return policy in the event you really hate the insulin pump, but it gives you time to get to know the pump. There are different styles of insulin pumps, so you can find the one that fits your lifestyle and preferences the best. For many people, insulin pumping makes diabetes management just a little bit easier.
The tubing-free Omnipod insulin pump makes insulin delivery discreet – and it’s easy to learn. Click here to learn more and order a free demo to try it out for yourself.