Things I Can't Stand About My Insulin Pump

Part 1

Clay Wirestone

| Jun 25, 2012

My insulin pump has changed my life. My A1C has improved, I've felt more energetic, and I've controlled my diabetes more effectively overall. It has been the biggest and best change in my diabetes treatment since I started on insulin a quarter-century ago.

But it hasn't all been great. Indeed, actually living with a pump day in and day out proves how far the technology has to go. We haven't reached the age of human-robot integration. As a matter of fact, we don't even know when that age will begin.

My point is simple: My relationship with my pump is complicated. I love it for the control it gives me over my disease, but I detest it for its flakiness, its arbitrary malfunctions, and the host of tiny aggravations that turn it from a blessing into a curse.

Here, then, are five of my pump aggravations. Stay tuned for the next installment, when I describe five more ways that my pump aggravates me, and perhaps you as well.

The Lousy Adhesive

Depending on your pump, this might not be a problem. But I have one of the disposable pumps that attaches right to your body. The insulin reservoir is in the body of the unit. While this type of pump avoids the dreaded tubing of other models, it puts a lot of weight (literally!) on a thin piece of bandage-like adhesive. If that adhesive fails, the pump begins to sag and eventually falls off entirely.

I've tried to fix it. I stick on adhesive bandages in a futile race against time. Sometimes I gird the entire pump with three or four bandages, which rather negates the futuristic effect. Sure, the worst that happens is a simple pump replacement. But why can't that adhesive just stick a teensy bit tighter?

The Beeping

All pumps need regular maintenance, of course. Reservoirs must be replaced or refilled, and cannulas must be removed and re-inserted. But do the pump control units have to be so annoying about it? My pump beeps for four hours before it expires. It beeps when only 20 units of insulin remain. It beeps when the time is up. And if it isn't changed immediately, it continues to beep at aggravatingly random intervals, just to make sure that you're paying attention. I am! Honest!

The Bizarre Basal Rates

You spend weeks, if not months, collaborating with your diabetes educator to find a perfect basal rate. It spikes when your blood sugar spikes and drops when your blood sugar drops. It's a perfect mirror of your day-to-day life with your diabetes. Until the day that it isn't.

Why doesn't it work anymore? No one quite knows. Perhaps you've lost weight. Maybe your diet has changed. Maybe your pump has decided to rebel against you. Whatever the case, you have to start over. And any change that you make, however small, can mean a string of other changes. Will it work? You have no way of knowing. You'll just have to wait and see.

It's enough to make one yearn for the days of NPH.

Hello? Insulin? Where Did You Go?

Everyone on insulin injections has had the experience of giving a shot and then not seeing the expected results. Instead of going down, your blood sugar goes up. While that's frustrating, it's easy enough to change injection sites and try again in a couple of hours. In insulin pump land, however, if a cannula is inserted in a bad spot, you have to start over: Time for a new infusion set or a new disposable pump.

The answer, as pump companies and educators will tell you, is to change and rotate infusion spots. For me, at least, that's easier said than done. No site works as well, or as consistently, as the abdomen, and that means that bad spots keep cropping up.

The Nagging Pains

This may sound petty, and perhaps I shouldn't expect anything different since I'm walking around with a cannula inserted in my stomach 24/7. But it's one of the less pleasant sensations around to feel that bit of tubing when I twist my torso or bend down to tie a shoelace. It breaks the illusion, somehow. Yes, you still have diabetes. Yes, you still have an insulin drip inside your body 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Darn.

That being said, I understand that cannulas used to be even larger and cause more discomfort. We should appreciate what we have, I suppose.

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: A1C, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes Health, Insulin, Pump

Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only
  • 12th Annual Product Reference Guide
  • Insulin Syringe Chart
  • Insulin Pen Needles Chart
  • Fast-Acting Glucose
  • Sharps Disposal
  • Blood Glucose Meters Chart
  • Insulin Pumps Chart
See the entire table of contents here!

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (2)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Posted by MsPorcello on 25 June 2012

Wow, thank you so much for this article! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has this kind of relationship with my pump. I've had diabetes for almost 30 years and my pump for only 3. I'm convinced that it is out to get me whenever a bad blood sugar does not make any sense. After all, it IS only a machine...

Posted by Anonymous on 3 July 2012

Hi, I have been diabetic for 20 years. I had gotten it when I was 16. I was on injections up until 11 years ago. As far as the pump goes, I love it! I have the CGM system, I love it too. I am a very active mom of 3 children (16, 13 and a 5). I do see the ups and downs with the pump, however, it is so much better than the injections. The pump gives me freedom to live a normal life, and not a life that diabetes wants to run. Have a good day :). Amy

Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...

Username: Password:
©1991-2015 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.