My doctor is putting me on a pump. Is that a good thing?
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 http://www.joslin.org/info/the_advantages_and_disadvantages_of_an_insulin_pump.html
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