Pump Pros and Cons

Hi, my name is Diana. I’ve had diabetes for a little over 10 years now. I am currently using the Novolog Flexpen, but I think I want to switch to a pump. This coming Wednesday, I have a meeting with a pump consultant. I have looked at the many pump websites, but I want to hear some personnel experiences with the pump. I want to know the Pros and Cons from an insulin pump user. Please help me with this decision.

Hello,

One of the pros of using an insulin pump is that once you get your basel rates adjusted properly it it is easier to live with a busy schedule. I work a lot, since using the pump for the past 15 years it has helped me out on busy days. On the days that I can’t eat lunch or dinner on time it helps me stay adjusted properly untill I can eat. Also I am a very active person. The pump has helped me out in my active lifestyle a lot. Good luck with your pump quest, and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask!

In March of 2006 I was diagnosed with type 1 and in March of 2007 I started on the minimed 722.

I think the best thing about the pump is that I am connected to it at all times. Diabetes was such a new thing to me that I often forgot about it. Now that I am always connected to the pump it is alot easier not to forget. (although I still do.)

I am a full time college student working 2 jobs and having the pump is a life saver. I sometimes don’t have time to eat or just forget and you can usually catch me up to the wee hours of the night studying so my life is very unpredictable. Being on the pump makes it so easy just to cut back insulin intake so when I don’t have time to eat I don’t get low.

I know many people including myself are very worried about being connected to this “thing” 24/7 and honestly I forget it is there. I live in Louisiana and so during the summer I am always on the water. I was real self-conscious about people asking and pointing at it, but to tell you the truth most people don’t even notice.

The cons to it is I think knowing where to put it. I like being desecrate about my pump and having a place to put it always an issue. Another things I hate about the pump is that with my off the wall schedule I sometimes forget to refill it. This causes me to run our of insulin at the most inconvenient times. This is more of just my flaw that anything though.

I have been wearing the pump for about a year and although it sometimes is a hassle I couldn’t imagine myself without it. I thought I was in good control before the pump but it is crazy how much better I felt once I started it. It was like I was in one of those claritin commercials being all groggy all the time. Once I started the pump I felt better and had much more energy.

Good Luck! Hope this helped.

Well I just started pumping last night. I can tell you so far I love it. My blood sugars have been between 100-140 since I started it. And already I can barely tell I am connected to it. The infusion set doesn’t hurt, itch, burn, the only way I know I am connected to it is the tubing. I personally use the Minemed 722 and I love it. The bolus feature is good on it as well.

I’ve used a pump for a few years now and love, love, love it. I’ve also been experimenting lately with going ‘untethered’ for periods of time, because I don’t want to wear my pump when I’ve vacationing in places where I’ll be spending a lot of time sunbathing or swimming.

Pump pros

  • you can have very precise boluses and multiple basal rate patterns depending on what your day or week is like, or where your hormones are (menzies can really affect your hormones and bgls, for instance).
  • if your bgl’s test high, it’s a quick few presses of a button, and your correction bolus is done - no having to dig out your insulin pen or syringes, no doing the math of figuring out how much insulin you have on board, etc.
  • I get better overall control of my diabetes while on a pump
  • you can decrease your basal rate for a couple or so hours and exercise more easily without the crazy lows
  • you can take advantage of dual-wave boluses that cover mixed foods (fats/proteins/carbs) much more effectively than a single injection
  • you can customize your pump with cool skins
  • you don’t have to take injections constantly throughout the day if you’re a snacker like me!

Cons

  • you’re attached to a pump all of the time. It’s usually not a big deal, but it’s a pain in the butt if you like wearing dresses - with pants or skirts, I just tuck the pump into my waistband. With a dress, you have to use a garter or some other device, and I find the garters and the pump to be a pain in the butt in those cases. I also get tangled in the line when I’m sleeping. It’s also not convenient if you want to spend a lot of time sunbathing or swimming - you can easily ‘cook’ your insulin, the pump is not convenient to hide in your swimsuit, and even the waterproof ones are not always so waterproof.
  • It’s expensive if you don’t have good coverage. I go through at least $1000. per month in supplies, but fortunately, all my costs are covered except $250.deductible per year.

The pros far outweight the cons. I have way better health and energy while on the pump. Going untethered for weekends or vacations when it’s just going to be in the way seems to be a good option for me, but maybe not for everyone.

First, let me just say that as fellow TuDiabetes member Lara wrote, there are a lot of “pump evangelists” out there (and that’s not a term of endearment). The pump companies (including their pump salespeople) are going to promise you the world, but just keep in mind what their motivation is: they want to sell you a $7,000 insulin pump! Also, many pump websites aren’t completely objective in their reviews of pumping.

I personally wore an insulin pump for over 5 years, and I found the experience was very valuable and taught me a lot, but my experience has taught me a few things that some others may not tell you. Contrary to all of the the glorious promises you are likely to hear 1) it will not necessarily give you dramatic improvement in control 2) it will not necessarily reduce your incidence of hypoglycemia and 3) it WILL cost you (and/or your healthcare provider) significantly more money because of the cost of the pump itself, the infusion sets and wasting vast amounts of insulin to prime the tubing. In short, I tried it but it wasn’t the greatest decision I ever made, therefore I returned to MDI (multiple daily injections) and THAT was the greatest decision I ever made!

Most trials are consistent in that they show that if you already have good control to start with, you are unlikely to see much improvement. But depending on your own situation, pumps can provide more flexibility because you can deliver doses in small fractions of a unit (vs. only 1/2 units with a pen or syringe), and if your need for insulin varies a lot throughout the day, then it might be great for you.

But as a former pumper myself, I would say that I was mislead to believe that wearing a pump would make things vastly easier, make things smoother and be the answer to all my issues. It was none of those things in my case. I found having the pump attached all the time to be more of a nuisance, as the sites can occasionally itch, you may need to prep the sites with additional adhesives so the infusion set lasts longer than a day and the adhesives can be an irritant to the skin. I also found it very uncomfortable to wear when I went to bed because I tend to roll when I sleep and I found it very uncomfortable to sleep on top of the pump, so if I did roll over, I had to readjust the location of where my pump was located. Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone should try pumping at least once, and in doing that you will learn a lot, but don’t go into the decision thinking it will necessarily be the greatest thing ever – it may, but then again, it may disappoint.

Lis, you make a good point. I already have some tiny complications, and I don’t want them to get any bigger. I am going to try out the pump. I’m tired of shots.

I trialled a pump out of curiosity. It worked well, but I was well controlled beforehand (HBA1c of 6.2%). The ability to customise basal rates simply wasn’t worth the financial cost and the burden of having a device attached. During the 2 months I used the pump, I hardly slept at all. And I found showering, using the toilet, getting dressed etc tedious, to say the least. So I went back to shots and have applied what I learned about my basal requirements in a way that has further improved my control.

I have been a type 1 for 30 years and I think it is important that we explore all the options. But I think I will most probably stick with shots in the foreseeable future …

I have been type 1 for 47 years and can tell you that I feel having the CGMS/minimed
in the Paradigm 522 ( I don’t use it for pumping) has been the best thing yet. Just watching the trends and being able to adjust as needed is great. My A1C was 6.7 which is the best I have been in years.
I can wear the pump in my pocket, purse etc. Not yet ready to be tethered to the pump but time will tell. I do not mind the mini injections as I use a pen for bolus and basal.
But not yet perfect but really really appreciated from an old timer this CGMS.
Staci

Well, the pump my doctor showed me is the Minimed. Maybe I should call my insurance company to see if they cover another brand, but I’ve heard mostly good things about the Minimed.
I hope you have better luck with the Anima pump

If I had a good A1C like you I wouldn’t try the pump, but no matter what I do I can’t seem to stay at normal reading. My last A1C was 7.3 but I can honsestly tell you that it’s because I get a lot of lows to balance the many highs. I’m hoping the pump and the CGM work.

I’m getting the CGM. I heard the sensor hurts to put in. What do you think of it?

The biggest advantage of the pump is that you can customise your basal rates. For most people, doing this would improve their control substantially. Bear in mind, though, that you could probably approximate your basal requirements and improve your HBA1c by nearly as much by just adding some Regular or NPH into the MDI mix. Doing this has enabled me to achieve an HBA1c of 6.2%.

Diana,
I have been type 1 for 47 years and I use an insulin pen and I like the flexibiltiy.
I also use a minimed CGM and my A1c’s have been 6.7 since I started using the CGM.

And this is a personal thing of course and at this point I just don’t want another thing attached to me.
I also had a sample omnipod and thought it was too large for my body,

It is all personal. I do know you can screw up using a pump to and have to chase the low.
It is a true inconvenient disease.
So I will be with the injections for while longer.
I have type 1 friends who have gone back to injections after using the pump.
It is truly what suits you best.

Staci

Greetings Diana, I’m Holly and I have had diabetes for 48 years and I don’t think there are too many of us who around who were diagnosed in the early 60’s. I do not use a pump. One reason is that MDI’s are not an issue for me and I like having my blood sugar under good control. Another reason is the appliance factor. A third is that I feel it would cramp my very active lifestyle, particularly outside and participating in sports. A fourth is the cost and upkeep. I seem to be one of those rare people who is happy with mulitple injections. The breakthrough that I’m waiting for is in non-invasive blood glucose testing. I hope that knowing that there are some active, heathly long time diabetics with full and multi-faceted lives will give you a mental boost whenever you feel the blues. I love the fact that I’ve turned the doctors that told my parents that I’d be very sick by 30 and dead by 50 were turned into great big liars!

I agree with you Cody I have been type 1 (MDI) since 1985
my control was ok but not great, my A1C looked good but was mostly due to the average on many large swings in BG. I never wanted to use a pump because of the “Tethered to me” argument that I have heard from almost every non pump advocate in this post and others. I recently discovered the Omnipod Pump a month ago
and got my insurance company to cover it. WOW ! my concerns about having something attached to me don’t exist as there is no tubing with the Omnipod. I don’t see the hassle difference between carrying around traditional supplies (syringes alcohol wipes and vials of insulin or a pen) and carrying around my omnipod PDM (cellphone size).I also have no issues with water or sports as the small pod attached to me is 100% water proof its small and the adhesive is very good so showering or any water related activity or sports is no problem. I am also using the Dexcom 7 CGM along with my new pump. My control has improved greatly and the next version of my omnipod due early next year will function as a dexcom CGM receiver as well as operate my POD! I have a very unpredictable job and also have 5 children so for me the pump has made my daily life so much easier. The ability to lead my life on my terms and let my Diabetic insulin agenda conform to it rather than trying alter my life to what the insulin wants is for me a no brainer. I suppose some folks are lucky to have most of the aspects of daily life that affect their treatment of this disease be predicable. I however am not that blessed. As far as cons go I have not experienced any yet Hope this answers some questions for you.

Be Well

Hi Holly, I’m pleased that I’m not the last to wear a pump, and for the very same reasons. Plus, I’m sure my tight control would suffer, at least for awhile, while I adapted to such a major change. I am 54 and was diagnosed in 1967, and have also proven a dr. wrong, was told, when I was 19, that I should hurry up and decide what to do w/my life because I’d be dead in twenty years. He, too, was very wrong, though if technology hadn’t changed, he might have been right. Anyway, I am fit and active, currently training for a marathon. Just wanted to comment on the similarities. Best of luck to you, always. Howard.

I’m glad to have read this discussion. Always more to learn as a newly diagnosed Type 1. The TU Diabetes community is an incredible resource of knowledge & vast & varied experience.

I’ve been struggling with the pump decision. My doctor & CDE are pro pump. Can’t say they’re pressuring me & I’m too stubborn to be easily swayed, but they’re very in favor.

Everyone on the pump was on MDIs & most everyone gives glowing reviews. Good to hear other viewpoints from people like Scott who’ve done both & gone back to injections. I’m grateful to hear all sides & deeply grateful for finding this community of wonderful people.

For me injections aren’t a big deal, though some people really don’t like them. Compared to something attached to my body all the time (yea, this kind of creeps me out), concerns about malfunctions, infections, the cost & the constant adjustments, it just doesn’t seem to be worth it.

Holly & Howard–am sad hearing what your doctors told you. Kudos for proving them wrong!