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What is life like on an insulin pump?

Discussion in 'Type 1 Diabetes' started by RichWatt, May 20, 2012.

  1. RichWatt

    RichWatt Type 1 · Member

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    Hello all

    I'm recently type 1 due to removal of my pancreas because of a tumour. I'm on a regieme of NovoRapid and Levemir injections at present.

    I am quite fed up og all the injections. I have upto 7 a day depending on the number of snacks i have. I'm wondering what life is like on an insulin pump?

    In th long term I may consider applying for one. Can anyone give me a run down of the good, bad and ugly of using one please?

    Is it attached permanently? I.e. when showering, swimming, sleeping, being intimate? Does it get in the way of activities? Is it easier at passport control, or do you still need a pen injector as back up? Anything you can think of would be useful. I would like to weigh up the for and against.
     
  2. noblehead

    noblehead Type 1 · Guru
    Retired Moderator

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    I can't help you Rich but you could try searching the Insulin Pump section of the forum for answers.
     
  3. Dustydazzler

    Dustydazzler Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi RichWatt.

    When I saw your post yesterday I was hoping someone else would reply to you as I get far too passionate about my insulin pump and end up writing far too much. As no one has posted a reply I felt the need to say how good it is and to try and answer some of your questions.

    You should take a moment to visit the 'NICE' Website to see if you fit the criteria to receive an Insulin Pump of the NHS, here is the link: http://www.nice.org.uk/TA151

    If you don't fit the criteria, it doesn't mean you can't have one though. You have to inform your diabetic specialist the reson why it would be benificial if you had one. For example, do you work shifts? Are you a sports man? Are you suffering from any complications where a pump might improve your quality of life if your levels were more stable? Any other things you can think of why it is necessary for you to have a pump. If your specialist believes you have a genuin reason for your request, s/he will ask for funding and it will either be granted or denied. Saying you are fed up of injections - unless it is causing depression, wouldn't necessarily be a valid reason.

    The good: It is a flexible regime for delivering insulin. It can be turned up and down by the hour depending on how active you are, if you suffer from the dawn phenomenon, if you are ill, if you are exercising etc. You can deliver insulin immediatelyfor food or deliver it over a period of time, say an hour or two for example if you were eating a buffet and kept going back for more.

    The bad: personally I can't think of anything. I guess needing a large space to store all your equipemnt maybe!! Roche deliver my cannulars, cartridges, battery packs etc every 3 months and it takes up a full cupboard and wardrobe space!! Its a good idea to carry a spare insulin pen sometimes too. I cary a spare pen if im having a long day away from home or going out for a fancy meal. Most of the time I just carry a spare cannular incase I pull it out by accident. (doesnt happen very often but will ruin your day if you dont have a spare!!!!)

    You do need to be attached to it permanently as it is constantly delivering your basal evey 3 minutes. How it all happens for example is: On monday you attach a cannular to your skin. You use your pump. Keep it in your pocket or use a pump accessory to attach it to your arm/waist/thigh. you can detach the pump, leaving the canular in place while you shower, swim, being intimate etc then simply re attach your pump when you are finished. On wednesday you completely remove your cannular and re-attach a new one somewhere else on your skin. You stay attached to the pump while you sleep. You can leave it loose and it will follow you around the bed. You can use a pump pouch round your waist or you could sew a mobile phone sock or baby sock to your bed time clothing. I like to sleep in a shirt and I put the pump in the chest pocket.

    Its fine at passport contol/immigration. You can let your testing kit go through the x-ray. You can keep your pump attached to you and you can go through the metal detector archway. DO NOT let your pump go in the body scanner or in the x-ray. Simply tell them you have an insulin pump on if you set the metal detector off. You can either take it off, allow it to be swabbed for explosives and go into the body scanner without it (if the airport is using body scanners). Or tell them you wont detach from it and that they will have to give you a pat down search (in which case they will still swab the pump for explosives). Swabbing wont harm the pump. It is a clean piece of cloth that is wiped over the pump and then the cloth is analysed for bomb residues. You'll get the all clear and off you go on your travels.

    I hope this helps and I hope i've answered all your questions. Any other questions please ask,

    Dusty
     
  4. phoenix

    phoenix Type 1 · Expert

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    Just a couple of things.
    It is important to have backup pens just in case something goes wrong as it would only be a matter of hours before the insulin runs out (cross fingers it's not happened)
    For me the benefit isn't to be able to eat snacks without injecting because I don't eat snacks but is to be able to reduce the basal for activities.
    The biggest drawback I think and that may be age related is that the marks from the sites don't go very quickly. (they may stay longer because of less elasticity in the skin) I think that might have concerned me when I was younger.
     
  5. jopar

    jopar · Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest that you take a look here www.input.me.uk as it gives a lot of information, and if you hit problems they will be willing to help you out...

    As I can anticipate you might get problems with funding, due to that officially you aren't a T1 diabetic due to your pancreas was removed, so your lack of insulin isn't based on your immune system reaction to your body, in the past other's in your position have found that they have had a very hard battle on their hands to get funding, as PCT uses the NICE guidelines are T1 specific and you'll not T1! But if this happens then contact INPUT and they will be able to advise you...

    Can't really add more than what the others have said...

    Only that a pump is only ever as good as it's user.. You got to put the work in to get the results..
     
  6. RichWatt

    RichWatt Type 1 · Member

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    Thanks for the responses. I'll check those websites out.

    Just out of interest, how long can you keep the pump unattached if it's constantly delivering bolus etc...?

    If I were to be swimming for say 40 mins plus shower time on top, would this be possible with a pump?
     
  7. phoenix

    phoenix Type 1 · Expert

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    For me that's fine. It really depends on what happens to your glucose levels when swimming. Some people find that they have to make up some of the basal if they've had the pump unattached for a while..
    I always go down in the pool and even in the shower so I don't need to do that.
     
  8. Tracey167

    Tracey167 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi

    I went onto the insulin pump back in 2010 but i had a bad time with it but i think that was due to not being trained properly on how to use it and also NO aftercare. My sugar levels went through the roof at one point and it made me ill so i came to a decision to give it back and go back onto my insulin pen. If you have the right training on how to use it and plently of aftercare i think there would be know problems. There are plenty of T1's on the forum who swear by it, but i think i was just very unlucky. My new consultant keeps trying to temp me into trying another pump but im abit weary now, maybe in the future i maybe convinced to give it another try but for now i'm gonna stick with what i know best.

    tracey167
     
  9. Pneu

    Pneu · Well-Known Member

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    Morning Rich...

    Firstly I can't tell you what life is like because I don't yet have my pump... but I can tell you that getting the pump can be very difficult if your not an 'obvious' case.

    Rather ironically to be good at a pump you will need to have a good understanding of insulin / carb counting and how generally life effects your blood glucose... typically if you have that understanding then you do well on MDI and therefore immediately miss their main criteria which is a HbA1c of over 8.5%. You can argue on other grounds as I have.. I shan't bore you with the details but drop me a PM if your interested... it took me nearly 2 years of pestering to get to where I am today (should touch wood get the good news on the funding decision today).
     
  10. jopar

    jopar · Well-Known Member

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    Penu

    Can I correct you slightly, There isn't a main criteria for a pump, all you have to do is fit one of the criteria, any PCT/Consultant who says that you have to fit the HbA1c of above 8.5% or select any parts of the criteria that the individual must meet are actually breaking the law! So if you only fit the 'quality of life' then that's enough to qualify for a pump

    When I battled for my pump, I did under the old criteria which didn't include 'quality of life' and stricter within the criteria than the currant ones... So had to build quite an indpeth case to why a pump was my only option, so if you want any information about building a case, I quite happy to help!
     
  11. Pneu

    Pneu · Well-Known Member

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    Jopar... you are of course totally correct reference the 'official' NICE guidelines! My experience however and from what the consultant said is that the PCT find it much easier to authorise the funds when a nice HbA1c target can be used as its something concrete.. whereas quality of life is harder to quantify and therefore get funding on.
     
  12. Type1Jim

    Type1Jim · Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    I have had an insulin pump for a while now and find it really good. As I play a lot of sport, it has helped me to reduce the number of hypo's that i have. Don't think that it will be easy though! It takes a lot of effort to get the settings for your insulin right.

    Also, with only quick acting insulin, it is possible to get high blood sugars really quickly. I use a blood glucose and ketone monitor just incase. It's the glucomen lx+.
     
  13. katybaby

    katybaby · Newbie

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    Hi

    I've had my insulin pump for nearly 3 years now and I would never part with it. The reason I qualified was due to the number of hypos I was having - 4+ per day at one point, and at that point I had pretty much cut out all excerise and socialising!

    I was a bit dubious at first about the pump being connected all the time - particularly sleeping with it, but it's not been a problem at all. The only thing for me being a 24 year old girl is coming up with creative ways of hiding the pump when wearing certain types of clothing e.g. summary dresses or evening wear.

    I am very sensitive to insulin and a little goes a long way so for me the main benefit is being able to tweak my basal rate from hour to hour - I need approx 3x as much insulin in the morning as in the afternoon, and my sugars vary a lot during the night so again being able to change the amount of insulin I'm having in the background has been brilliant. It also made ratios a lot easier with carb counting - my insulin pump goes up in 0.01 unit increments, so I can be very specific as to how much insulin to have, compared to pens - the smallest increment of which I found was 0.5 units which for me is the difference between a reading of 2 or 12!

    This also means you can reduce your background insulin whilst exercising, or increase it if you are ill. You can also split bolus doses so that you have a certain amount straight away and then an extra amount every 3 mins for the next 2-4 hours. Because the pump only uses fast acting insulin, if you have a hypo there is no background insulin working to be aware of.

    My pump is a combo one so it has a blood sugar monitor which connects to the pump via blue tooth - so the pump can be discreetly hidden under clothing and you dont have to get it out to give boluses or change the basal rate which was a big plus for me.

    Downsides... you have to test at least 6 to 8 times per day because if the pump malfunctions then you dont have any long acting insulin in your system. However I have never had a problem with mine it has been incredibly reliable, and I prefer to test regularly anyway so it wasnt much of a change for me.

    Changing the cannulas used to be a downside for me but I have now switched onto a different type which have inserters, so it's more like clicking a button and the needle/tube is injected for you. There's quite a lot of choice in terms of metal / plastic tube, length of tubing, angle of needle, with or without inserter, connection at the site or not so there's something for everyone.

    Travelling wise, I have been abroad with the pump about 8 times now and there has only been 'an issue' once and even that just consisted of them swabbing it. Airports are actually a great place to have a pump because the attendents etc see them every day so you dont have to explain your medication or anything.
     
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