IS THE INSULIN PUMP FOR ME?
Insulin pumps deliver more than insulin.
Many people who use them say that pumps also deliver more
insulin pump is a miniature, computerized pump, about the size
of a call-beeper, that you wear on your belt or in your pocket.
It provides you with a small amount of
insulin throughout the day (the basal rate) to keep your
blood glucose stable. When you eat, you simply press a button or
two, and voila, you've given yourself a bolus, a
dose of insulin to handle your food. With a pump, you're not
tied to a rigid meal schedule, and you have more flexibility
regarding your diet.
The pump can also help you achieve better
control over your diabetes, which lowers your risk of developing
complications and makes you feel better. Most people who use a
pump say they love it.
However there are responsibilities that
come with using an insulin pump. Knowing what they are ahead of
time can help you make a smooth transition.
It requires training and education. The pump will be
attached to your body through an infusion set. You'll need to
learn how to change the infusion set, how to program the pump,
and what to do if the infusion set gets clogged or knocked
loose. You'll be taught the mechanics of the pump. Pump
education programs are quite thorough and are designed to help
you minimize the risk of such problems. At our center, we enroll
pump patients in a five-session program that is designed to
teach them all about the pump. Thorough and proper training is
absolutely vital. But learning to use a pump is like learning to
drive a car, or sail a boat. Once you understand and learn it,
it becomes second nature, and is very easy.
You'll still need back-up equipment. The best laid
plans can go awry, however, and pumps are not foolproof. Pump
patients must be prepared to have quick access to extra supplies
if the infusion set gets clogged, or the battery dies. If you
are already using insulin injections daily, this isn't
difficult. Just go back to your old insulin injections until the
pump is sorted out.
You'll still have to check your blood glucose. If
you're not willing to check your blood glucose at least four
times a day, you probably shouldn't be considering the pump.
Part of the beauty of the pump is that when your sugar is not on
target, you can make little corrections to steer yourself back
on course. The pump is not an artificial pancreas. It is not an
automatic device, you need to tell it what to do.
It's not cheap. An insulin pump, depending on the
model, may cost around $6000 to $7000, and pump supplies may
cost about $350 to $400 every two months.
It takes patience at first. Even though you
understand all the theory behind the pump, it really takes a few
months to get used to using a pump. Most centers who run pump
programs (ours included) require patients to keep close contact
with their doctor and nurses when you start using a pump. This
helps patients build confidence until they master the pump.
In summary, the benefits of using a pump
are: (1) stable blood glucose readings, (2) improved HbA1c
levels, (3) less hypoglycemia and swings in blood glucose, (4)
increased energy, (5) greater flexibility in lifestyle. You can
eat when you like and not be so tightly bound to a fixed
timetable. You can be more adventurous in your food choices
because the pump will take care of the “additional” calories!
(6) no insulin injections on the tummy.