Parents and Pumps

so, I’m 15 years old and I’ve been a type 1 since I was 6. since the begginning my dad has been against the pump. he thinks i’ll gain weight or depend too much on it. has anyone had that problem? any advice on how to convince him it’ll just make my extremely active life a lot easier?

I used significantly LESS insulin on the pump (not needing a long-acting insulin anymore means less unused insulin not absorbed into your body), so I LOST weight on the pump. Insulin, as we all know, causes some weight gain. I’ve heard claims that a pump causes gain (like this very good explanation here). But like that link says, with better control comes healthy weight gain. I went on a pump at age 20 after 10 years of Type 1. It’s hard to remember back to when I made the switch, but I know I was taking over 65 units a day of NPH (long) and roughly 10-20 maybe of Humalog (short). Since I began pumping eight years ago, I have never had a day where I topped 65 units total. Most days are more like 40 for me right now. So tell him that. And send him here for further proof.

Also, on a pump, while you can eat what you want (and maybe that’s what he’s afraid of), there are two reasons that you may not go overboard. First of all, you’re not beholden to a certain amount of food. You’re not having to chase the insulin you take with the correct amount of carbs. You can take tinier increments to bolus just for what you want to eat. And you can skip those bedtime snacks or the meals where you are not hungry without much consequence. Secondly, you don’t have to stop eating a healthy diet just because you can.

It is easy to depend on it, but I think that’s what makes life with it richer and more normal. I had to prove to my doctor (and insurance) that I was really committed to my care by testing more often. (I test 10-12 times per day), whereas I tested maybe 4 on injections.

I’ll admit that I have had my bad times on the pump. I slacked off in college quite a bit, particularly toward the end of college when I felt I was too busy to pay the close attention I needed to, but I think a pump has saved my life and brought down my A1Cs consistently over the last 8 years. Down from the 10s and 11s to the 6s now.

So see if any of that helps. It’s understandable that he’s scared to entrust his baby girl’s care to an electronic device. But trust me, your quality of life could be a trade-off worth making.

I also had good months and bad months with the pump… it does not work miracles, but it CAN be a great tool to achieving better control. Here are a few reasons that i have better control on the pump (I will add more later if I think of more):

  • I correct when my blood sugar is 140, or even 120… when I was on shots, it was too hard to correct these, but with the pump, you can correct even “not so high” numbers and stay closer to 100. It’s hard to give yourself 0.3 units of insulin with a syringe or pen.
  • I can exercise WITHOUT needing to eat extra. With the pump, I can turn my basal insulin down to 50% before I exercise and from my experience, I can stay between 80 and 130 the whole time!! Before I used to have to eat whenever I wanted to exercise. I am able to actually LOSE weight from exercise now.
  • Our needs for basal insulin VARY throughout the day. On a pump, you can get more basal at certain hours and less at others. This is hard to do with longer acting insulins. This can give better control with less lows.
  • I use “dual wave” boluses when I eat. This enables me to take some of the insulin right away and to get some over an extended period of time (like 1-2 hours). This is REALLY useful for food that digest more slowly (pizza, anything else high fat). I actually use this even with regular meals and I am working to be able to prevent going above 140 at all after meals.

In a sense, I can understand your dad… some people start on the pump, thinking that it will be the solution to ALL their problems and that they won’t have to work so hard any more… THAT’S NOT TRUE. To get good control with the pump, you need to work harder, but you can achieve really tight control, while living an active lifestyle!

Hope this helps!