Insulin Pumping – Q & A

Insulin pumps, so many questions

Having recently started on an insulin pump has been a revelation for me. The extra control this gives to my blood sugars is going to be a life changer. Like anything new in life it raises lots of questions from friends, family and work colleagues. That is what this blog post is all about, a sort of Q & A session, hopefully covering all the questions most people will have about my new robotic pancreas.

What is that?

Had this a couple of times at work already and i’m sure it will happen many many times in the coming months. I am dying to just say;

“Oh that is my pancreas! I wear mine on the outside of my body as the one inside has decided it can’t be bothered anymore, and I just love a gadget”

However, instead I take the opportunity to educate, if people have asked then they must be interested.

Medtronic 640G
Medtronic 640G

An insulin pump is a small battery operated device which delivers insulin into my body. People of a certain age might think it is a pager, if you don’t know of a pager then you are far too young!! ( Google it ). 

No more pricking your fingers then

If only this were the case!

Insulin pumps are a lot more work than injections. As I am new to the pumping world I am checking my bloods a minimum of every 2 hours at the moment until I get all the settings correct on my pump. So in the past 4 days I have pricked my fingers around 48 times, including every 2 hours overnight, just to see how my body is reacting to the new regime.

Without testing my bloods I cannot make any decisions about the amount of insulin I need, so testing is always going to be a part of my life.

Blood glucose tester
Blood glucose tester

You wouldn’t drive a car with no speedometer, using an insulin pump with no blood testing is akin to this.

So that just does it all for you…..

Lost count already of the amount of people who think this. If only it were the case. 

This pump is not a replacement pancreas, if only it were. I have to put a massive amount of effort and knowledge in to get any sort of results out. I still need to;

  1. Count all carbohydrates in my food and drink
  2. Change settings for exercise
  3. Change settings for illness
  4. Change settings for different times of the day
  5. Change settings for times of stress
  6. Change settings for workdays and non workdays

All in all I do it all and tell the pump what I need it to do.

An insulin pump is just another insulin delivery device, the same as pens.

So why do you want to be on a pump then?

I can see why people would think this. It all seems like a lot of work when the injections were working ok-ish.

I have got my reasons for wanting this big change in my life, have a look at my previous blog –

➡ Why I want a pump

One way to look at it is

A 20 year old car will get you from A to B, but you won’t be winning the Grand Prix.

Does it hurt?

In a word, no. Obviously you can feel it when you put the cannula in but it doesn’t hurt anymore than an injection did before. I put in one cannula every 3 days, as opposed to around 20 injections.

Cannula
Cannula

You feel it but it doesn’t hurt.

Do you take it off at night?

That really wouldn’t be a good idea. We all need a constant supply of insulin, if I took my pump off to go to bed I would be very ill.

I need insulin at all times.

But when you was injecting you didn’t have to inject all through the night did you?

This one threw me a bit when I was asked, as it showed an understanding at least. 

When I was on injections I took 2 types of insulin, fast acting and long acting. Fast acting covered my meals and snacks and the long acting gave me a background level of insulin at all times. On a pump I only use the fast acting. To get the background insulin the pump delivers micro-doses all the time, providing my background needs. That is why I can’t just take the pump off overnight.

Pumping insulin has differences to injecting insulin.

What about when you shower or other things 😳 ?

Short periods of time are ok to disconnect from the pump. I deal with this by taking a small amount of extra insulin before I disconnect to cover the background I will be missing whilst unplugged. Most pumps are not waterproof so you must disconnect before showering, the one I have is waterproof. I still take it off though as there is nowhere to put it in the shower! The cannula itself is fine in the shower.

Unplug and carry on
Unplug and carry on

Not going to go into detail but as for “other things” it’s fine, just disconnect and have fun!! Remember  to plug back in after though.

Just unplug and carry on, you are good for about an hour or so.

 

These are just a few of the questions I have come across in the first week of pumping.

Please comment below with any questions you have and I will get back to you with some answers

Thanks for reading

Take care, be pump aware

Type1Bri

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Insulin Pumping – Q & A

  • John Miller

    Excellent write up!
    This blog has answered so many questions I have about pumps and also diabetes in general.
    Please keep updating this website with new content, it really has helped me on my journey with T1

    John

    • Hi John
      Thanks for the feedback, makes running this blog worthwhile to me. I always set out each blog post with the hope it will help even just 1 person, and your comment made me 😆

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