By: Barbara Bradley
What are your expectations when it comes to pump training? Are they realistic? Do you want improved blood glucose control, improved health and flexibility in choosing when and what to eat? Or, do you just want to avoid frequent intensive insulin injections? Are you a “set it and forget it” type?
Learning about insulin pump therapy begins with information seeking, exploration of available pump brands and making the decision. It also includes learning carbohydrate counting or fine-tuning your current practice.
Practice sessions for choosing, inserting, wearing and caring for infusion sets can be arranged. Ask your team about their education process. Some programs have loaner pumps for a trial period of wearing a pump and infusion set, with or without saline. Using a pump with saline in the syringe may require a prescription for sterile saline. Some pump candidates choose to wear different infusion sets and practice insertions with only a set in place and no pump connection.
Once you are notified of the prescribed pump approved by your health insurance plan, you will need to make appointments to initiate your pump therapy. The timeframe can vary, depending on the schedule of the trainer. Before your appointment, read your pump’s owner’s manual several times. Learn all the functions and safety precautions for your specific pump. If the manufacturer has a Web site with a training program, use it.
Most pump manufacturers have training manuals and training checklists. Ask to see the checklist. You have a right to see what will be taught in your training. There might also be a signature line on the checklist where you sign to verify that all information was addressed. This document is usually placed in your medical record, and a copy is sent to the prescribing physician and pump manufacturer.
Training Follow-Up Plan
What is the communication frequency to report glucose results or problems? Is there someone “on call” for real or potential glucose emergencies? What will be the frequency of visits to review and re-evaluate your diabetes control, technical skills, problem-solving and decision-making in using pump therapy? Initial starting insulin doses for basal rates, correction factor calculations and meal boluses are likely to be temporary. They can only be adjusted to your unique, specific needs by reviewing information from glucose testing. The physician or pump trainer should provide guidelines for testing these rates.
The learning curve can be several months after you are “connected.” Stay informed. Stay committed. Be patient.