What about insulin pumps?

The insulin pump is another way of administering your daily insulin. The pump is an electronic device about the size of a small mobile phone, which delivers insulin continuously via a small plastic cannula (a thin tube) under the skin. Instead of giving yourself a basal injection and topping up with fast-acting or soluble analogue insulin, you programme the pump to deliver different amounts of insulin at different times of day, depending on factors such as your target blood glucose and the amount of carbs you have eaten. It takes a lot of work to do all the calculations and get started on an insulin pump, but afterwards it has many benefits – you need fewer injections and can control your blood glucose levels more easily.

If you are considering switching to an insulin pump you should talk to your diabetes care team. You may also find our course ‘Considering an insulin pump?‘ useful.

Read below what some people with type 1 diabetes have to say about their experiences with taking insulin:

“Remembering to inject was sometimes an issue, and if you were out it could sometimes be difficult to find a place that was discreet or had good enough lighting to see what you were doing! Also just the physical aspect of having to inject yourself several times a day can be tiresome”.

“I like the fact I’m not injecting four or more times in a day. I also like how the pump can correct the does if necessary. It is very flexible in that you can eat when you want, if you want and what you want. I find the pump hard to hide sometimes which is a bit of a pain”.

” I was reluctant to take the pump on. My biggest worry was being constantly connected, especially overnight. There has been no trouble at all with managing the pump. Would not consider giving it up!”

“A pump is overwhelmingly superior to injections for control and flexibility”.

 “Positive experiences are that you don’t have to inject, it’s easy to administer your insulin doses wherever you are and things like physical activity are much easier to manage. Negative aspects are sometimes trying to figure out where to put it with certain things you are wearing, getting used to being attached to a device even when sleeping – it’s just there all the time!”

Benefits – you feel more secure in knowing that you can be flexible with mealtimes, exercise at short notice, change plans etc. as your pump basal will cover the day to day insulin requirements, better blood glucose control, record of insulin delivery. And drawbacks of using an insulin pump – wearing it….sleeping, car seat belt, ‘bad’ sites, catching on door handles, removal for bath/shower, possible malfunction and reliance, increased blood testing”.

“Basic challenges are remembering the type of functionality that a pump gives you. So it really has taken a year before I’ve become competent with Square Wave, Dual Wave and temporary bolus – but I wouldn’t say even now I’m expert. That said, being from a technology background I would still like to see a smaller form factor for the pump (it is still quite bulky), and I also think there is a missed opportunity for more accessories for how to store/hold it on your person. Also how long will it take for an integrated phone app to manage all the information in a format that has been designed by a user interface designer?! The scientists/engineers need to step aside! Even the pump screen flows are not intuitive. All in all, though, I have found it a benefit for my lifestyle which is particularly without routine, and the pump allows for better management of that – and in most cases reduces my likelihood of hypo’s”.

Most people who try an insulin pump get on very well with it after the initial training period, and hardly anyone goes back to injections after switching to using a pump.

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