Monday marks one week for me on an insulin pump – the OmniPod by the Insulet Corporation. Here are some things I’ve learned about it:
– It’s easy. I feel certified to teach folks how these things work. Really, the method behind the pump’s madness isn’t much different than that of multiple daily injections, just more specific. The problem with MDI for me (and everyone else, according to my health care providers) is they involve long-acting insulin to maintain a basil rate throughout the day. While some persons use 24-hour Lantus, I used 12-hour Levemir since its effectiveness doesn’t fluctuate as often throughout the day. While I had more success with it than Lantus, it still fluctuated enough to make my blood sugar go up and down – meaning, for instance, my dosage was appropriate for early morning but too strong for late morning. On a pump, I use only Humalog, which lasts about four hours. Getting a small, steady dose of this throughout the day (that’s why it’s called a “pump”) in lieu of long-acting insulin allows me to tailor things a bit more … I take more in the early morning than during the times I used to drop low. Once a pump user has the correct basil rate set and tweaks his or her bolus rates (how much is taken to compensate for meals and correct high glucose levels based on insulin sensitivity), it is easy.
–The pods don’t stick very well. If there’s a complaint I have about this system, it’s regarding the pods’ adhesive that’s supposedly waterproof and allegedly sweat resistant. I am not a hairy person. I am not a greasy person. From what I’ve gathered, my flesh is ideal for the pods’ ability to remain affixed. But one came off yesterday and made my blood sugar high, as the insulin wasn’t entering my body. What bothers me about this was I wasn’t even doing anything out of the ordinary. I was at work, but my job rarely – if at all – makes me sweat. If the pod can’t stay on for that, what’s it going to be like when I resume mountain and road cycling in the summer? That really makes me sweat. My plan for that is to cover the pod in costly waterproof tape I purchased at Walgreens yesterday and hope for the best. I’m not really confident, though.
–Small price to pay. Okay, so I need to address the pods remaining attached to my body. I can and will figure it out. I may even start keeping a spare bottle of Humalog and a syringe with me as often as possible in case the pod does fall off, although that’ll be a nuisance. However, I’ve watched my average blood sugar level come closer and closer to non-diabetic levels with each passing day since Nov. 12 and have noticed less and less fluctuation. I am excited to see what another week will bring; I’m excited to live the rest of my life without constantly wondering if my blood sugar is too high or low. These minor issues with the pump are worth the control it brings. I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when I was 10 and spent most of my childhood either terrified of the disease or pretending I didn’t have it, which meant I was doing long-term damage to my eyes, heart, extremities, kidneys … my body as a whole, really. The pump will allow me to manage my diabetes without constantly worrying about it. It’s truly the best of both worlds.