I have gotten a lot of questions about living with my Diabetes and what I’ve done to manage it and get the Insulin I need. I decided it would be a perfect topic for “Type 1 and 2’s day” and of course, mom life got crazy and it’s going up today! Some days are better than others but I wouldn’t trade what I do every day for my little Mo Mo.
So, I am going to discuss the pros and cons I have found for using the Insulin pens vs the Medtronic pumps.
Let’s start with the cons for the pens! I enjoyed using the pens when I was first diagnosed, but as time went on, I really started having trouble with using them. I am not and never have been the type of person that enjoys self pain. You get hurt when you play sports and things, but I never hurt myself intentionally. It got so bad that I had to ask my husband to do the shots for me. I was on the floor crying because I couldn’t stand the idea of hurting myself multiple times a day. But I need it to survive, so it had to be done. With using the pens, you have no idea what your sugar is doing in-between finger sticks. This can become so frustrating because if you workout, it affects your sugar. If you don’t drink enough water or drink diet soda, it affects your sugar. Just about everything you do affects your sugar and you are flying blind until you check your finger again.
You also only have what is on hand. The pens (in case you haven’t used one) have a limit of units you can inject in one sitting. When you get your meal, you count up the carbs, check your sugar, and then dose the amount of units you need. If you have a rushed morning and grab breakfast on your way to work but forget to grab your insulin, you have to go back home. I had so many mornings, especially during my pregnancy, that I left the house without my pens, or didn’t check the amount left in the pen. I left work way too many times to get another pen at home. It was so stressful and not good for my pregnancy.
Now for the Pros! I felt I was able to make sure I had lower carbohydrate meals because I knew I only had what was in the pen. I always rounded up my units, so if the carbs didn’t add up correctly to my ratio (15 carbs; 1 unit) I would round up if it was .5 or higher. Doing that caused lows, but those lows also helped me lower my A1C safely. I only had 2 dangerous lows the whole time I’ve been checking my sugar. Traveling was very easy with the pens because they fit in my bag and I didn’t have to worry about taking a pump off to go through TSA. I found an insulated pouch that was the perfect size for both of my short term and long term Insulin. You don’t have a constant reminder that you’re diabetic until you go to eat. It was so nice!
Now we move on to the cons of the Pump. Again, these are my opinions and experiences with the pump, and I am not a medical professional. My biggest complaint about being on the pump is the feeling of never being able to move freely. I have my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) on my arms currently but started out with it on my lower back, and I have my Infusion set in various places on my body. When I go to take a shower, I can’t take them off completely. The monitor is taped down, but sometimes I scrub it by accident and rub some of the tape off my skin. With the infusion sets, you can remove the line so that you can take the pump off to shower, but the site is still there. I can’t even count how many times I’ve dried myself off and caught the towel on it and even ripped it out. Also, long showers don’t exist anymore because sometimes my sugar rises and the alert goes off.
There are not many (or any) clothing lines that allow for comfortable pump carrying. I have put it on my waistline, my shirts, my bra and just in my sweatshirt pocket. Sometimes, I lay down with Morgan to help her nap and my pump will fall out of my pocket when I stand up. The tug from the weight of the pump causes my heart to race every time. I feel so tied down that I can’t do anything without feeling the pull or yank of my line. It’s unbearable sometimes.
Going back to the self pain, I can’t put my CGM in myself. I have to have my husband do it, and half the time I cry because of the pain. I don’t know if my pain threshold has diminished since having Morgan, but it hurts so much I can’t do it myself sometimes. With the scar tissue on my stomach from my C-section, I also can’t put the line in the best place to absorb the insulin. When I put it too close, it either doesn’t absorb completely or it leaves bruises when it’s time to switch. Also, a good night sleep doesn’t exist. Not because of Morgan, but because my CGM will sense my sugar dropping in the middle of the night, so it goes off until I fix it. But I’m never actually low when it does that. I can calibrate the sensor to the accurate sugar level, but sometimes it drops on it’s own anyway. I feel terrible when I wake up my husband through no fault of my own because this thing thinks I’m gonna go DKA and I’m 150.
Pros of the pump are being able to see what your sugar does after activities and food. You can actually watch in real time how high certain foods will spike your sugar and how quickly you can raise your sugar. When the day comes that I have to change my CGM (every 6 days), I try to take a bath to just soak and relax. I’m too scared to do it with it on that I’m gonna soak the tape off or something. On the other side of the alert coin, it is a blessing when it goes off that my sugar is spiking or dropping and I don’t feel the difference. I am so thankful that I have it, but I would like to upgrade to the 670 Medtronic Insulin Pump. It will give you some insulin if you go too high (from what I have been told) and it is one of the most advanced pumps out there!
I know my Pros are less than my Cons for the pump, but that is my opinion on it. Being a new mom, it’s easier having the pump so I don’t worry about forgetting to dose for food, but I just don’t want to feel the weight of it anymore. Hopefully there is some useful information if you are thinking about switching from Pens to Pump. Always run things by your doctor before you make changes! Love you guys!