Going on an Insulin Pump

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Back during Diabetes Blog Week (which seems like forever ago now!) I read a TON of blogs.  One thing that I read a few times was how people struggled with the decision to go on an insulin pump (I wish I could remember the blogs so I could reference them here).  I was pretty surprised by this but then again, I’ve had my insulin pump since 1997 so it wasn’t really a question for me.

I received my insulin pump back in 1997, when I was 13 years old.  At the time, I was considered the youngest person to go on the insulin pump in Virginia (although I don’t know how they verified that stat).  I was so young that I don’t remember much about the event.  I don’t know if I was a part of the decision or if my parents made the decision on their own.  I do remember hearing how it would give me more flexibility, especially as I was getting into my teenage years.  I remember having trouble “pinching an inch” on my stomach because I had no belly fat at the time (would be a nice problem to have now!) and I needed that inch for my infusion set.  I also remember being terrified to put the infusion set in my stomach because I had only ever given shots on my arms and legs.  But as far as I know, there was never really a question about going on the insulin pump, I was going on it.

Now in 2015, almost 20 years later, it’s so interesting to read that people aren’t positive if they want to go on one or not.  I’ve never regretted the decision to go on an insulin pump.  I haven’t even had an insulin shot since I went on the pump and I honestly don’t know if I could give myself a shot now.  The insulin pump has not only provided  flexibility with schedules but also flexibility with eating and diet.  Before I went on the pump, I was only “allowed” one sweet per week; now, I eat whatever I want (some of that could be because of the advancements in fast acting insulin not necessarily the pump).

While I would never, ever go back to a life with insulin shots, I can see the flip side.  Pumping for so long, I definitely have scar tissue in my stomach that makes the insulin absorption more difficult so it would be nice to not have that issue.  Being attached to an insulin pump does pose some challenges, especially when wearing a dress or going for a swim.  Wearing a pump can also lead to some panic attacks when you get a motor error or button error or one of the various other errors that always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.

I wonder if I had to make the decision now to go on an insulin pump, having used only shots for the last 21 years if I would. It would definitely be scary to have to rely on a technology to keep you alive.  I’m not sure I would make the decision to switch.  I love the flexibility I have with the pump but it’s a pretty scary thing to make such a drastic change after doing something the same way for 20+ years.  I can’t even make the change to a new brand of insulin pump (been with Medtronic the entire time!).

I did decide to get a continuous glucose monitor (which was different) but that decision didn’t change things too much for me.  I had to insert a new needle but I didn’t need to carry around a new object (since I have the Medtronic CGM and pump which are basically one in the same).  It did take me about 6 months to finally get comfortable with the CGM and making a switch from shots to a pump I wouldn’t really be allowed the flexibility of wearing it some of the time like I did with the CGM.

I’ve had a good 18 year relationship with my insulin pump and I’m thankful for the advancement in technology.  I’m glad I went on it when I did because I don’t know what my decision would be now.  I sometimes dream of taking a pump vacation but I don’t think I could ever go back to shots (unless I had to).

New pump and CGM

Medtronic Pump and CGM

One thought on “Going on an Insulin Pump

  1. I agree. It is all about the level of familiarity. For me the mystery I feel is looking at people on the tubed pumps (I use Omnipod). I can not imagine getting used to the tubing and all that entails. Without fail I will rip my phone accidentally from my pocket if I try to move around too much with the headphones attached.

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