About 4.5 years ago, I made a drastic change in regards to my diabetes care. My entire mindset of the disease changed, I taught myself the ins and outs, I did lots of research, and I started to take better care of myself. To this day, I have no idea what sparked the change, but I’m happy for it!
At one point, I started contemplating the method of how I took care of myself. I’m talking about MDIs (multiple daily injections) or an insulin pump. Did I want to use pens, and have multiple daily injections, sometimes up to 5-6 times a day, or did I want an insulin pump that’s always attached to me?
Thankfully, I chose a pump which was one of the biggest and best decisions I have ever made for my diabetes, personally. So here’s why I made the change, and why I’ve stuck with it! (Please note: these are my personal reasons. They may not work the same for you.)
- Better control. Since starting pump therapy, I have not had an A1c over 8%. I believe there are a number of reasons behind this:
- Basal rates can be programmed specifically to meet needs. During the morning and evening, I need more basal insulin than I do during the middle of the day. This means my pump gives me more insulin during the evening and morning until the middle of the day, where it gives me less. When I was on pens, I had a certain amount of basal insulin for the entire day, regardless of what my body needed at precise times, which resulted in being too low or too high quite often.
- Many pumps come with a Bolus calculator which can be programmed for specific needs. This means, when I test my blood sugar, it gets sent to my pump. Then I add the amount of carbohydrates I will be consuming, and the pump will adjust my bolus rate taking into consideration my current blood sugar and food intake. It can add insulin for a high BS, and subtract insulin from my bolus if I have a low BS. I even have different insulin-to-carb ratios for different times of the day.
- My insulin pump (currently Medtronic 640g) can give a very precise insulin dose, in fact, to twenty five thousandths of a percent (.025)…is that math right? That means, for example, that I can bolus (give insulin) for 2g of carbs, or adjust a BS of 130 mg/dl with a small amount of insulin. This precision makes my diabetes much easier to control.
- While being active, like running, I can completely turn off my basal rate, or even give myself a reduced percentage. If I don’t my blood sugar tends to drop. This is MY experience, please talk to your doctor.
- When I have a slight hypo (low blood sugar), if I feel it’s right, I can turn my basal insulin off. I do this when my blood sugar isn’t violently dropping, or if I catch a low before it’s fully happening. By turning my basal rate down, I sometimes don’t have to eat or drink anything to bring my BS back up. This lessens the amount of useless calories I need to consume. PLEASE note: low blood sugars are nothing to play around with. This is my own experience and what I’m comfortable doing, and not to be taken as medical advice. Discuss any changes with your doctor.
- Ease of mind & freedom. I remember when I was on pens, I had to stop whatever I was doing at 9pm to give myself my daily dose of Levemir (a long acting insulin). Once at a concert, I had to pause and do just that. How inconvenient?! Since having an insulin pump, I can easily change my site before I go out, or maybe not even have to do it that day since most pumps suggest changing sites every 2-3 days. I really do have a lot more freedom with my diabetes care than I ever could have imagined.
- I can eat what I want, when I want, without having to inject multiple times. This is one of the most beautiful things about having a pump. When I eat chips and salsa, for example, and eat more than I anticipated, I just give myself a bit more insulin. I always hated that when I was on pens and needed to give ANOTHER shot just for a few more grams of carbs. And the truth is, I often skipped that extra dose and my care suffered because of that. NO MORE SKIPPING.
- One of the biggest misconceptions, I think, about an insulin pump is that it makes the disease “public”. EVERYONE can see your pump. But that’s not necessarily true. If I don’t want my pump to be showing, for whatever reason, a job interview, or date night, I can easily hide my pump in my outfit. The pump itself can be clipped to my bra, or in a pocket. Nobody has to see it unless I want it to be visible.
In the end, an insulin pump was and is the best choice for ME. It provides me with better, more customized care, I can be more flexible, and feel much better with it ‘attached’ to me. If you’re thinking of changing your diabetes care, do lots of research and get in touch with your diabetes care provider to discuss your options. You can also get in touch with me and ask more about my experiences.
Are you a pumper? If not, are you considering making a switch? If yes, do you think you’ll be a forever-pumper?
Thoughts in general…?