Tips From Experienced Pump Users

What these pump veterans have to share

| Aug 1, 2005

Recently Diabetes Health asked experienced pump users, What are the most important things a new pumper or a potential pumper should know? What advice would you give someone who is frustrated with the pump learning curve while trying to achieve the goal of improved blood glucose control?

Here’s what these pump veterans have to share:

Jan, 22 years as a pumper:

The pump features of early pumps were so different from today’s pumps. The early pumps delivered only one basal rate. Now we can have several basal rates. Older pumps required battery chargers and replacement every day or so. Now, the batteries last several weeks or even months. The battery chargers (car and home) were costly ($22) each, and we needed at least three.

I like the Teflon canula infusion sets. Especially nice are the rapid-acting insulin analogs making boluses more like real time. Regular insulin was slower to act and required a 20- to 30-minute lag time after bolusing before eating, which made it unpredictable when ordering food in a restaurant or even when eating at home.

Rodney, 25 years as a pumper:

Be a “smart pumper.” Even with a “smart pump,” the user can still have problems. Get trained and understand what you need to do and when, such as when to use an extended bolus over three or five hours for different foods or situations, or when to turn pump basals up or down for a period of time after a workout.

Wendell, 25 years as a pumper:

As each pump changes, new improvements have to be factored into your individual control parameters. Old practices have to be altered. It is a never-ending classroom, and we are the students.

Bob, 9 years as a pumper:

My main advice for new pumpers is to relax. A new pumper needs to understand the entire process is a long learning curve. (I’m still learning after more than nine years of pump therapy and more than 48 years of insulin therapy.) We are always aiming at a moving target. Our bodies change and our daily activities change. Adjusting to these changes is not as simple as dealing with one variable. Don’t try to “micromanage.” Understand the basics of basal delivery, bolus delivery and simple carb counting. The other fancy stuff will come, over time, when you are ready. Life is not perfect, so why should I frustrate myself by expecting my BGs to be perfect? Try to “soft focus” and relax. The big picture will often come into clear view.

Rodney, a 25-year pump vet says to be a “Master Pumper,” you should

  • Record everything in a journal or logbook.
  • Have a “what if?” plan of action.
  • Try all the infusion sets. Some work better than others on some places on your body. Record what works best for you.
  • Have a pattern for the placement of sets.
  • Work with your team of doctors, nurses and other medical people to do what’s best for you.
  • Have a plan for pump management in case you should need to go to the hospital.
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