My doctor is putting me on a pump. Is that a good thing?

Amy Campbell


An insulin pump is a small, computerized device about the size of a pager that delivers insulin continuously throughout the day and night. The pump attempts to mimic the normal release of insulin (much like a pancreas), although the user must “tell” the pump how much insulin is to be delivered. Most pumps are attached by an infusion set with a thin catheter that is inserted right underneath the skin; a few newer types of pumps are attached via a self-adhesive disposable pod that contains insulin and delivers insulin through a small canula inserted underneath the skin. There are a lot of benefits to using an insulin pump, including more stable blood glucose levels, improved diabetes control, fewer injections, less hypoglycemia and more precise “matching” of your insulin to your food intake. However, using an insulin pump is a lot of work. Pump therapy requires extensive education, both in terms of how to use the pump and how to insert the infusion set, as well as determining your basal rates and bolus doses. This requires frequent blood glucose checking (often 6 to 8 times a day), keeping detailed glucose and food records, and precise carbohydrate counting. It also means, at least initially, more frequent visits with your provider and/or diabetes care team. Not everybody is able and/or willing to do all of this. The decision to wear a pump should be made jointly between the person thinking about using one and his or her healthcare provider. You should learn as much as you can about pump therapy, and discuss any concerns or questions that you may have with your provider before going on a pump. You might also ask your provider to refer you to a diabetes educator or a diabetes program to learn more about insulin pumping. And, you can find out more about insulin pump therapy by visiting Joslin Diabetes Center’s website at

2 replies

Moose1290 2013-09-01 09:40:48 -0500 Report

I really think the Answer is grossly overrated in regards to how much work having a pump is. I have been on a Medtronic insulin pump now for over a year now and it is the best thing to happen to me since I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I at first was very apprehensive to go on the pump at the urging of my physician. I thought it would be more work than sticking myself three times a day with insulin pens. I was wrong. Yes you have to have a couple meetings with a dietitian to get you used to knowing how to gauge how many grams of carbs that are in the foods you eat, but after a few months this becomes second nature and makes you more aware of what you are eating, which is a good thing. You do have to test a little more but this only helps you more to know what you are eating and how it affects your levels. Inserting the infusion set was easy after one session with my dietitian and is only done once every 2 to 3 days. Your first 6 to 8 months you do have to see your physician more frequently so that they can monitor your progress and possibly adjust your basal dose, but after that you don't see them any more than you used to. I have more freedom now and can adjust my insulin on the fly. And just to put your mind at ease, you don't even know you are wearing it while you sleep. I thought for sure it would keep me awake by rolling on it or getting tangled in the tubing, but a pair of shorts with a pocket worn to bed will keep it in one place and you can sleep soundly. Even without the shorts, I have not had any problem sleeping. Had I read this before I got mine, I would have been even more apprehensive and unwilling to try it. But I am here to tell you in the end it is less work than the inconvenience of sticking yourself with the pen 3-4 times a day. Hope this helps!

Anonymous 2013-08-31 21:17:28 -0500 Report

i NEVER received much in the way of education, certainly NEVER tested that much and ended up getting fired from my last full-time job one month after i started pump therapy.

then i was on it for ten years, all of it out of pocket, until it died at 2 am on Easter Sunday of 2013.

i haven't had health insurance since i was fired and my COBRA ran out in 2004, so i cannot afford the $6000 it will cost to replace the darn machine.

otoh, some of my hypoglycemic unawareness HAS returned since i've been off the pump. so i cannot say that getting off the thing has been all bad, but it has been a significant pain in my gluteus maximus.