Omnipod, revisited

Whenever I view the stats of my blog, one of the most popular search terms that brings people there is “Omnipod.” That word is often paired with phrases like “beeping make it stop” or “pod failure” or “beginning user.” As I approach the 2-year anniversary of using the Omnipod, I thought I’d re-review my experience and share a few helpful tips (that your Insulet rep and endocrinologist may not know or may not share with you). So, if you’re not an Omnipod user, or not interested… wait a few days! The content will be relevant to you again soon, I promise. But since I know I am always searching online for answers to my random diabetes questions, I thought I’d give an update to the conversation.

(also, I should note — if it was not obvious to you that this blog is an amateur volunteer effort not funded by Big Pharma… I am not in any way affiliated with or compensated by Insulet Corp. All opinions are my own.)

Still in love with tubeless? YES! I will never change to a tubed pump, ever. I’ve never worn one, and I don’t ever want to. The countless times where I’ve literally forgotten that this thing is on my body are priceless to me.

The “new” Omnipod. The Omnipod went through an overhaul in late summer/early fall. I have no idea what this was like from the inside, but to me I’d say the changes were small (with one major exception):

  • The pod got smaller – according to Insulet, “34% smaller, 25% lighter and 16% slimmer.” It’s a slight change, but does make a big difference if you are like me and want to hide this thing under your clothes at all times. If I wear it on my arm I can actually still sleep comfortably on my side, which was always an issue with the larger one.
  • The PDM remained clunky. Someone online described it as having a “very 90s feel,” and I couldn’t agree more. Except this is the kind of 90s I don’t like. Everyone else’s pump looks like an iPhone, but Omnipod users still carry Palm Pilots.
  • The added “security” feature of me having to verify I am me every time I turn the thing on is incredibly annoying, but I did get used to it. Although I don’t understand why this can’t be an optional feature… are there really so many households with multiple Omnipod users out there to justify this being the default?

  • The Insulin on Board calculation was improved, with what I believe is much greater accuracy.
  • They seem to have fixed the defective pods. My first batch of the new, smaller pods had a 57% failure rate. It was not only frustrating but had a really bad effect on my blood sugars and overall confidence in the product. This really seems to have been changed, though, and the past several months have been smooth sailing.
  • During the Great Pod Failure Debacle of 2013, I went back on injections for a little while. It sucked. I was so grateful to return to the Omnipod, and that was a valuable lesson.

Where do I put it? My favorite spots are my low abdomen, low back/upper butt and the back of my arm (though not really in summer). I got some pretty limited suggestions from the rep when I first went through the training, but communicating with others online has given me other options. After injecting in my abdomen for half a lifetime, I try to avoid that area and these give me plenty to rotate through while still being “discreet,” as Insulet likes to call it. I call it “where I can hide it under my clothes.” Most people around me don’t even remember that I wear it.

Is it durable? Yes, mostly. Last summer I ran in some of the sweatiest weather ever, this winter I trained through a polar vortex, and I’ve significantly increased my yoga practice (from a few times per month to about 3 per week). I even put the Omnipod through a 105-degree Bikram class (and I’m confident after some research that it was my body, not the pod, that caused some blood sugar issues there). Certainly the adhesive has never been a problem. The one little issue I found is when I was running for long periods of time in really cold weather. During my longer workouts in the middle of frigid winter, I had pod failures almost every time. I wonder now if it was just too cold (we’re talking temps in the teens and lower, runs in the 90+ minute range). I haven’t asked anyone about it, but that is my working hypothesis.

The best tip I learned: I will always, always, see a blood sugar spike after I change my pod. I have done 2 things to alleviate this (notice I didn’t say “eliminate,” but this helps tremendously):

  • Change pods in the morning only. I used to do this before bedtime but then I could go high overnight and not really know. It’s easier to monitor and correct in the morning.
  • Bolus an extra 2-3 units at each pod change. Since I am almost always doing this before breakfast, I will simply add 20 to the carbs I am bolusing for. When I check 2 hours later, I’m almost always in a good range. This is not for everyone, though. Some people may go too low if they do this, so please use caution and/or talk to a health professional!

The second best tip I learned: use an additional adhesive when putting on a new pod, and an adhesive remover when removing an old one. I receive these with my 90-day supply shipment and I think they’ve saved my skin!

(Sorry the picture is crappy, but you can at least see the names. The orange is the adhesive remover, and the pink is an adhesive/skin protector.)

Overall: My relationship with the Omnipod may still be complicated (although, on balance, less so than it was a year ago) but I am totally in this one for the long haul. Through all the ups and downs, the Omnipod has dramatically increased my blood sugar control with little to no effect on my active lifestyle. I’ll admit that many of the things I love (increased blood sugar control as the result of custom basal rates and precise dosing) would come with any pump, but for me it is invaluable to have one that I’m literally able to forget about at times due to the tubeless design and small size. Am I excited for an even smaller size (especially, come on, that stupid PDM) and more improvements? You bet. But I’ll be using it until then.


I too absolutely love the pod. I just had my one year pump anniversary. Before that I had used MDI for 38 years. I was having issues with post pod change highs but this tip has helped immensely with that. When you change pods 1. leave the old pod in place at least until the 1.5 hour post pod change blood glucose reminder and 2. after filling the new pod with insulin, turn the pod over so the flat side is down and then push the button to start it priming. I am still not sure how this helps except that when I pull off the needle cap I always have a drop of insulin and I think it primes the pod better. Since I started doing these 2 things I have not had any post pod change highs. As for good spots for pods, I am currently using my left breast and it is super comfortable and I completely forget that it is there. I'm seeing my endo next week and am going to ask her opinion regarding potential issues with this as a site. Some women have said it may cause abnormalities on mammograms. For now I'll keep using it though.

I have been tied to a tube a long time ago...did not like it. I don't "love" the Omnipod but it's the best choice (for me) out there right now. If another manufacturer came out with a tubeless pump, that I did not have to tell it who I was every time I turned the thing on, that did not "remind me" that I changed pods 90 minutes ago, that had any kind of customer service (insulet used to be great) and that had a PDM that was 50% smaller and that did not require 89 levels to reach the point to make a simple change in the basil program, I would change as quick as I could. I have considered switching back to a tube leash, for example this morning at 1:30 AM when I got the occlusion "scream" and had to change pods (really, this thing can't unplug an occlusion???). I'm sure the FDA is responsible for some of the annoying features but when you have to put up with those little annoyances a few times every day, it becomes a huge annoyance!

I totally agree with everything you have written. Really, they must get into the 21st century with this PDM!!

Ugh, I know, this giant PDM really does suck... but considering the most recent "update" I think it'll be a few years before any other changes. I get so jealous when I see pictures of those other pumps with their little ipod-looking controllers. But I suppose it's worth it for no tubing. And I also agree with duckatect... if another company were to do something tubeless, I'd certainly be interested!