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.
What really sets pumping apart from injection therapy are the features that allow you to fine-tune your insulin dosing. Every one of these capabilities would be unthinkable with shots:
Temp basal programs
You can increase or decrease your background insulin for short periods of time during exercise, illness, menstruation, or other break in your routine. This can be very useful for social events, too, where you might be nibbling for an hour or so. You just increase your background dose of insulin while “grazing.”
You tell the pump how many carbohydrates you’re going to eat, and it automatically calculates how much insulin you need. Most people find that leaving the math behind is one of pumping’s biggest assets.
If you’re too high, the pump can also calculate how much extra insulin you need to bring your glucose level back into target range. Again, this beats the pants off trying to calculate corrections yourself. The pump even accounts for how much insulin is “on board” (still active in your body from your last bolus dose).
Database of foods
You can look up standard carbohydrate counts for hundreds of different foods, right there at your fingertips. Eating lentils for the first time? No problem. Just push a button and look it up.
Data storage and downloading your diabetes records
How much do you hate keeping hand-written records of your carbohydrates and insulin doses? The pump can store hundreds of data points, which can be printed out in graph form for you and your doctor to review.
All these powerful features are standard in any modern insulin pump. But it doesn’t stop there. When shopping for a pump model for yourself, you might want to look for extra features like a high-quality digital backlit screen that you can see very easily, even in a dark movie theater. Or you might want the ability to customize the alarm tones, something new models are starting to offer.
Some newer models take advantage of wireless technology. One model called the “OmniPod” does away with the plastic tubing altogether. You wear a “pod” full of insulin attached to your body, and use a single, compact handheld device to both control the pump and also check your glucose. Another model called the “Ping” allows you to wirelessly “zap” your blood glucose meter results to a traditional pump screen for easy viewing. These advances are not only convenient, but also make it possible for you to keep your pump continuously hidden under your clothes, which a lot of people prefer.