Tips From Experienced Pump Users

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By: Barbara Bradley

Recently Diabetes Health askedexperienced pump users, What are themost important things a new pumper or apotential pumper should know? What advicewould you give someone who is frustratedwith the pump learning curve while trying toachieve the goal of improved blood glucosecontrol?

Here’s what these pump veterans have toshare:

Jan, 22 years as a pumper:

The pump features of early pumps wereso different from today’s pumps. The earlypumps delivered only one basal rate. Nowwe can have several basal rates. Older pumpsrequired battery chargers and replacementevery day or so. Now, the batteries lastseveral weeks or even months. The batterychargers (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 insulinanalogs making boluses more like realtime. Regular insulin was slower to actand required a 20- to 30-minute lag timeafter bolusing before eating, which madeit unpredictable when ordering food in arestaurant or even when eating at home.

Rodney, 25 years as a pumper:

Be a “smart pumper.” Even witha “smart pump,” the user can stillhave problems. Get trained andunderstand what you need to do andwhen, such as when to use an extendedbolus over three or five hours fordifferent foods or situations, or when to turnpump basals up or down for a period of timeafter a workout.

Wendell, 25 years as a pumper:

As each pump changes, new improvementshave to be factored into your individualcontrol parameters. Old practices have to bealtered. It is a never-ending classroom, andwe are the students.

Bob, 9 years as a pumper:

My main advice for new pumpers is to relax.A new pumper needs to understand theentire process is a long learning curve. (I’mstill learning after more than nine years ofpump therapy and more than 48 years ofinsulin therapy.) We are always aiming at amoving target. Our bodies change and ourdaily activities change. Adjusting to thesechanges is not as simple as dealing withone 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, sowhy should I frustrate myself by expectingmy BGs to be perfect? Try to “soft focus” andrelax. The big picture will often come intoclear 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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