Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
For years, the 3.7 million people worldwide who depend on insulin to survive had no choice but to take daily insulin injections—sometimes more than ten a day. Today, we have the choice of using new technology that does away with the daily regimen of shots. It allows a continuous flow of insulin into the body, through a “pump.”
Benefits of pumps
In addition to eliminating the pain and inconvenience often caused by multiple daily injections (known as “MDI” treatment), pumps give you more precise control of their insulin flow, so they can actually achieve better blood sugar control as well as more freedom. With just the press of a button, a pump user can stop, cut down, or increase the flow of insulin, as needed. That’s pretty groundbreaking!
But don’t let anyone tell you that insulin pumps are “experimental treatment.” On the contrary! There’s a lot of medical literature showing that pump therapy is both powerful and safe—and that it enables better blood sugar control than injections do.
Insulin pumps were first introduced in the late 1970s, and became small and portable enough for regular use—and proven medically sound—by the late 1980s. They underwent major advancements in the 1990s that made them even more desirable: dramatic reductions in size, enhanced safety features, and much-improved ease of use for patients.
Since then, pumps have helped thousands of people improve their health and quality of life with diabetes. (If you don’t believe me, ask just about any pumper.)
Who can use an insulin pump?
Anyone who already takes multiple daily injections of insulin, or whose doctor is recommending that they start, could benefit from a insulin pump. This includes anyone who takes long-acting and rapid or short-acting (pre-meal) insulins. There is no special age for a pump—they are used on infants, all the way up to senior citizens. And you don't need to be a computer whiz to operate a pump; if you can use an ATM machine to get cash, then you can use a pump. Pumps have many features, easily operated just by pushing buttons. Even if you never use the advanced features, you can still use a pump to improve control of your blood sugar levels.
Sometimes people think they don't qualify for a pump because they don't have really good or really bad control of their blood glucose levels. You may qualify for a pump regardless of where your glycemic control stands now.