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The Question
Thu Aug 26 11:28:14 UTC 2010

What are the pros and cons with the insulin pump?
Asked By: jcartagena74  
Category: Insulin

Background Info Hide
My 11 year old son (diagnosed with Type 1 last year) has been taking 2 shots of insulin (Humolog & NPH) every day and so far we have been able to manage his blood sugars successfully. Is seems like his doctor is pushing the pump on us and i have some reservations about making the switch to the pump. I am worried that we can all become too dependant on the pump, sores that may develop and what if the pump malfunctions... Please list the pros and cons for me, thanks. P.S. i am very interested in hearing from people that are or have used the pump in the past. Thank you all in advance.
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Expert Answers (1)
2010-08-27 22:39:38.0

Dear jcartagena74, Thank you for writing into dLife with your questions about pump usage for your child. You are correct in that there are pros and cons. I certainly recommend that you ask your doctor to give you the names of a few of his other juvenile patients that are pump users. He/she could arrange for them to contact you and tell you about their experiences. Pumps can be very effective at controlling blood sugars, but they are only as good as the information programmed into them and the skill of the user. Pumps are not automatic. You have to program them to constantly infuse insulin and then when carbohydrate is eaten, you need to estimate the amount to infuse at that time. Knowing how to carb count and to be good at carb counting is a must for pump wearers. Pumps also are very expensive and their are monthly costs associated with them for tubing, insulin, insertion sets, etc. People test their blood sugars about 8 times per day. A pump is worn at almost all times, day and night. Some people get clever at figuring out how to wear the pump so it isn't bothersome. My daughter-in-law had to have special pouches sewn into some of her clothing in order to have a place to carry the pump when she wore certain clothes. Some people are psychologically not ready for a pump. I have heard some people say that wearing a pump reminds them that they have diabetes all the time where shots can be taken and then diabetes forgotten for awhile. So, I have started you thinking about some pros and cons. I hope others will chime in and share some personal experiences with you.
Answered By: Janice Fisher
Accreditations: RD, LD, PHD, CDE, BC-ADM
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Community Answers (10)
2010-11-02 14:01:18.0

I've had diabetes for 24 years and just started training for the minimed pump. I can already tell a difference in my control and insulin usage. I think the toughest thing for an 11 year old is having something attached to him or her, but I can also remember how terrible my control was at that age due to growth and puberty. I truly wish I would have had this option back then because it totally takes away the guess work and improves the amount of insulin being taken to a precise amount instead of being rounded up, which sent me off to many lows. You may also want to check out youtube for videos on pump therapy from real users. Good luck with whatever decision you and your child make.
Answered By: effie_k

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2010-10-06 00:55:08.0

I've been diabetic for 20 years and for the last 9 years I've been on a pump. I've had MiniMed, Animas, and I am currently using the Accu-Chek Spirit and I love it. For me the Pros out weigh the Cons. Accu-Chek has the largest reservoir on the market, I believe, at 315 and that has me changing my reservoir every 5 or 6 days, depending on what I eat, and the infusion sets I use have 10 sets of full sets and also 10 spare sites, just the sites, that I change every 2 1/2 to 3 days. With MiniMed I was changing every other day because of the small reservoir and that it wasn't luer lock connection. With the luer lock connection you have more of a variety of infusion sets you can use. I hope that helped.
Answered By: 19diabetic89

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2010-09-12 13:09:52.0

Good question. I always check here on dLife as I have been recently diagnosed as Type 2 (July) and have questions that I usually find the answers to here. Recently my doctor suggested that I go on a pump because I answered that I dose at different times every day with my Lantus. I convinced him that I will dose at the same time every day. Apparently that satisfied him. :)
Answered By: indydui

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2010-09-12 11:15:04.0

My son is 10, dx'd for a year and pumping for about 6 months. He was on Lantus and Novolog and got one shot at bedtime and every time he ate. He loves having the pump instead of shots. He's on a sliding scale for carbs and can eat anything he wants whenever he wants, so there's a lot of freedom. With the shots, he was limiting what he ate (and trying to skip lunch) because he didn't want a shot, but now he's eating much better. Another good thing is during holidays when there's a lot of grazing or time between the meal and dessert, we can dose him separately for dinner and dessert - the pump adjusts the dessert dosage to take into account the insulin that is still active in his system. The one big benefit I like from it is the ability to have different basal rates for different time of the day. With the Lantus, he was frequently low especially overnight; if we lowered his Lantus, he would go to high during the day. With the pump we were able to fine tune his basal rates and rarely have unexplained lows. The drawbacks are he has to have the pump with him all the time (obviously) and he constantly fiddles with the tubing. He hasn't had any issues with it breaking or coming out in school, but if he does I need to go in and insert a new infusion set. When he takes the set off, he has a "doughnut" mark and occasionally it bleeds a bit, it stops quickly and the mark is usually gone in a few hours. If the pump breaks or malfunctions, Minimed will FedEx a new one overnight and we go back to shots for a day. If you (or anyone) wants more info, feel free to email (mpace @ areteinc.com) or message me.
Answered By: mom2atype1

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2010-09-11 11:22:26.0

Hi. I have had type 1 diabetes for over 44 years. Although I have no major complications such as neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy nor gastroparesis at this point I have had trouble with the insulin pump. I wore a MiniMed unti and upgraded it over a 9 year period and at the end of that time I developed a chronic staph infection. Now I not only cannot wear any type of insulin pump but I also cannot use the continuous blood glucose monitor that is available. Just something else to be aware of when you are deciding to use the insulin pump from an end user's perspective.
Answered By: test

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2010-09-10 17:48:12.0

If you get the correct cannula length, change the pump as often as directed, and change injection sites, You should not have any scarring from it. Most pumps give you an option on the cannula length, but your doctor should help you decide which is right. You might have redness in the injection site for a short period of time but it should go away. Same as if you take shots daily, if you don't change injection sites it can create sores and scar.
Answered By: jenniffershea

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2010-09-10 17:34:54.0

I am a type1 diabetic who is currently using the Paradigm pump from medtronic. I took shots for the first 5 years, then finally agreed to switch 2 years ago. The doctors pushed for a long time and I only agreed due to the fact that I had to take many injections daily. (Lantus daily and humalog for any/each carb intake). I would not wear the pump myself if it wasn't for that because it is constantly stuck to you and I don't enjoy that at all. Many times I have thought about switching back, but everytime decided that the pros are much greater than the cons. It has made travel alot easier because I don't need to have all the needed supplies for injections. It is much easier to use in public, all you have to do is press a few buttons and nobody even notices what you are doing. It figures out all the math for you. you only have to change it every 3 days(depending on which one you choose). Although, the one i have is not water proof. This can be a problem in summer time if you enjoy the water. Yes, you can unplug it for up to 2 hrs but that is not too great for your sugar levels. The tubing gets in the way for me at times and because I do not wear very loose clothing, it is not very easy to hide but I have gotten use to that. There are many options out there to decide from. The Omnipod sounds good because of no tubing, and waterproof. Plus the freestyle and the pump controls are combined in one device. But I have read many complaints about it. They are also working on other tubeless pumps as well. Good Luck
Answered By: jenniffershea

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2010-09-10 16:49:46.0

Your question prompted me to reply! My doctor is 'pushing' the pump also. He said maybe I should find another doctor!! Even though the pump does not solve low blood sugars. It is very expensive -- around $5,000 and about $1200/month for supplies. I simply can't afford it. I think the doctors are in cahoots with the pump manufacturers and get kick-backs. I have a friend who really likes the pump, but it scars your stomach area and cannot wear clothing that would show his stomach. Just my opinion!
Answered By: kitchens

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2010-09-10 16:13:31.0

I have been using a Medtrinic Minimed insulin pump for 2 years. I'm sure there may be some cons, but for me the pros are ahead by miles! It is very user friendly and takes the guesswork out of bolusing for meals for me. All I have to do is test blood which sends a reading to my pump. Then I enter the carbs for that meal and the bolus wizard automatically figures the bolus amount and administers it. I think it is easy enough for a child to learn. I find it to be very unobtrusive and especially nice for when you are at a restaurant, etc., so much easier that a shot. Also, I wear a sensor that monitors and sends an alarm if blood sugar gets too high or too low so an adjustment can be made very quickly. Insurance has covered most of the cost for the pump and supplies, so no complaint in that area either. It kind of makes it where I don't have to think about being diabetic every minute. I highly recommend it. My control has improved from A1C of 11.9 before the pump to A1C of 6.8 with it.
Answered By: louannveteto

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2010-09-01 23:01:59.0

I am a Type 1 and wore an Omni Pod for about 3 weeks. The idea of the Omni Pod is absolutely wonderful-there is no tubing and it is only about the size of an egg. There are many people who wear it successfully. That was not the case for me. It has a very small cannula to infuse the insulin and it kept getting clogged on me. My insulin usage also increased nearly 4 times what I was taking-I would have needed 4 vials of Novolog per month (I use about 1/2 a vial now). I was constantly worrying whether or not is was infusing and after having to change it out (they are disposable) for about the 5th time due to a clog, I went back to the shots. The Omni Pod is cheaper up front, but depending on how much insulin you need, you may need up to 20 pods per month, as they only hold 200 units of Novolog. It was about $300 each delivery with my insurance. I'm not sure how much the other pumps hold. My doc is also pushing me to try another pump. I'm not really interested b/c I don't want something attached with tubing and all that. That is why I went with Omni Pod-no tubing, you can stick it anywhere you give yourself a shot. I know several people that have traditional pumps with tubing and they love theirs. Good luck on whatever you decide!
Answered By: pdewey1969

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*** All information contained on dLife.com is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our Expert Q&A is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

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