When I first got my pump I had to go to "pump school" for two days. One on Tuesday 7th June 2011, and the other on Tuesday 14th 2011. I had to spend a whole day there with my family and another family. All of us had to learn how to use the insulin pump; even my sister. Before I went to learn about the pump I had an appointment before this and I got to choose the colour of my pump and the nurse let me try on an infusion site. It was really nerve-wracking but it wasn't too bad and then when I was at the pump training the nurse asked if my mum, dad and sister wanted to put one on too, just so that I didn't feel alone in this and so they could experience what I would be experiencing every three days.
It was hilarious for me. My mum put it on and she wasn't being a scaredy cat like my dad and sister. They were both wincing at the thought but they did it anyway; in support of me like my mum, even though they both hate needles! When we got home my sister didn't even want to take out the cannula because she was too freaked out by it all, in all honesty I was a bit "eh" about pulling it off too, I didn't really know what to expect it to feel like. Me and my mum even searched up on YouTube "how to take off a pump cannula" but obviously, it was awfully simple in the end.
Two years on and changing my infusion site and using my pump is just like second nature to me. My insulin pump is purple and is a medtronic pump. It is named Maurice.
I get a lot of questions regarding the insulin pump and I thought I would answer a few of the questions that I get about the insulin pump and just some general questions about it.
Some of these answers may be specific to the Medtronic Insulin Pump that I use. Remember, once again this is in no way intended to be medical advice.
1. I don't like the idea of constantly having a needle in me?
The insulin pump isn't actually a steel needle under the skin, the tubing is attached to a plastic cannula that goes under the skin. The cannula is really flexible and so you can't feel that it is inserted at all. However, there are different infusion sets you can use. Some are steel cannulas (so, a needle under the skin) others are just plastic bendy cannulas. I use Mio infusion sets which are plastic; but there are others such as Sure-T which are steel.
2. Is the pump a lot easier?
Way. When I was on injections I was on five or more injections a day. This got too much after a while. Sometimes I chose not to eat just so I didn't have to give myself yet another injection. It was so annoying having to carry around the pens and needles and extra cartridges too. I also don't like maths so the extra calculation for my dosage was no fun either. The pump means that I can give insulin with the push of a button. It also gave me so much more freedom. Insulin injections meant that I had to get up at 8:00 am every morning to administer my Levemir injection, with my insulin pump I have basal rates which is basically short-acting insulin dripping in at a very low dose over the course of the day which does the same job the Levemir would have done; so in turn, I can now lay in in the mornings because my pump has it covered. And the main thing obviously is the tighter blood glucose control.
Random but then again not-so-random message:
When I got my pump set up with the insulin for the first time my blood sugar was 16 mmol. The nurse helped me put a correction does into the pump. This was just before we left. About an hour and a half later when I got home, my very first proper blood sugar on the pump was 5.5 mmol.
3. How often do you need to change the cannula?
When you are on an insulin pump the infusion site needs to be changed every three days.
4. Does it hurt?
Personally, I don't think it hurts that much. It hurts a lot if I hit a nerve but this doesn't happen often which is good. Most of the time I just feel pressure and a slight scratch and then it is fine.
5. How big is the insulin pump?
It is about the size of a matchbox. But, just slightly bulkier obviously.
6. What colours can you get for the pump?
I use a Medtronic Insulin Pump and for the medtronic you can get either; blue, purple, pink, white or black. I think those are the only colours that it comes in. But you can always get stickers or cases to put on the pump to jazz things up a little!
7. What features are available on the insulin pump?
On the pump that I use; there are lots of features available. Like, a dual wave bolus; this means that you can split your dose. So you can program the pump to give half of the dose of insulin then, and half an hour later or so, it will administer the other half of the insulin. This works great with things like pizza that are slow release carbohydrates and tend to make you go high after your meal. Other features include temporary basal rates, where you can set the pump to give more or less insulin depending on what you're doing; for example you can make the pump give less insulin whilst doing exercise to avoid a low blood sugar, or give you more insulin whilst you're unwell to avoid high blood sugars. The pump that I use also has the CGM feature on it; it works with the Medtronic Enlite sensors and when I wear the sensor it wirelessly transmits the data over to my pump and comes up as a graph on the screen, which I find really cool. The pump can also have alarms set on it to remind you about insulin or testing your blood sugar. The 'lock keypad' feature also comes in rather handy when my little cousin is around! Those were just a few of the awesome features that the insulin pump has.
8. Does the pump leave bruising?
Sometimes it does leave bruising but not as bad as insulin injections do.
9. What places can the infusion site go?
It can go in the stomach, arms, back of the hips or "love handles" or legs.
10. Pros and cons of the insulin pump?
Everyone is different and some people don't get bothered by certain things, others do but I tried to think up as many of these as I could.
-Insulin at the push of a button -Attached to something 24/7
-No more injections -Body is more dependent on the pump
-Different features to help blood sugar control -Takes some time getting used to
-Tighter blood sugar control -It could break
-Different colours and stickers
-Only have to have a needle every three days
-Much more freedom
I hope you guys enjoyed my blog post and I hoped that it helped those of you deciding if you want an insulin pump or not. Everyone is different and everyone has different opinions. These answers are just mainly my opinion on my own insulin pump which is a Medtronic Insulin Pump. Remember to ask your diabetes team questions about the insulin pump too! After all, I am only just a teenager so I obviously can't give you ALL of the technical ins and outs of the pump, but I did my best! I hope this helped anyway.
Thanks for reading!
This is a picture that I made a while ago c: