Throwback Thursday: Thinking About An Insulin Pump

Almost two years ago, I attended an insulin pump information evening. Today I’m looking back at that evening, and some of the reasons why I began thinking about pumping.

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Last night, I attended an information session on insulin pumping.

I’ve been on Multiple Daily Injections since I was diagnosed five years ago. I’ve never seriously considered an insulin pump, and I can’t say that I know too much about them. I’ve thought about going to one of these information sessions over the years, but it was just one of those things that I never got around to. Okay, truth be told I procratinated on RSVPing to those events until it was too late. Over and over.

I guess what motivated me this year was the fact that I am now a part of the Diabetes Online Community. I think, talk and write about diabetes every day. I feel more motivated towards my diabetes managment, just from interacting with you. I see so many of you blogging, tweeting, screenshotting and instagramming pump stuff each day. I want to understand it. And I want to seriously consider it as an option going forward.

Representatives from a few of the insulin pump companies were there to chat to before and after the session. I’ve never seen such eager salespeople out there in full force, desperately wanting our business. When our fantastic host asked for some sample tubing to show us, it literally seemed like a race to see which rep could get to her first. As I asked one of the reps if a meal bolus was as simple as inputting the number of carbs into the device, she began hurriedly cramming in as much information as she could before the talk resumed. I’ve never seen anything like it.

The topic of Continuous Glucose Monitors came up briefly. As I have written in recent days, Continuous Glucose Monitors aren’t subsidised by the government here in Australia. The cost of purchasing a CGM device and its operating consumables is excessive. While having a CGM may not matter to myself, I know that it could make a world of difference to young children and parents out there.

I thought it was rather interesting to hear the representatives in the room quickly removing themselves of any responsibility for those excessive costs. They urged us to write to our Members of Parliament. They urged us to lobby the government for subsidies towards CGMs and diabetes devices. As though it’s out of their hands.

These companies are responsible for the excessive costs of these devices. I hardly got the feeling that these people genuinely wanted to help me make my diabetes management easier. I so badly wanted to know if they even had diabetes themselves!

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Excuse ranty, 2015 Frank. In hindsight, that evening probably could have been designed a little bit better. The good news is that on Thursday October 12, Perth Diabetes Care will be hosting a tech evening, designed by people with diabetes. I’ll be speaking about my own journey with technology, all of the highs, lows and everything I wish I was told on that evening. If you’re in Perth I highly recommend you come along, have a play with the tech and meet other people with diabetes. Details below.

Multiple Daily Injections, a Second Time Round


I definitely felt hesitant about going back to Multiple Daily Injections when I was contemplating a pump break.

I didn’t really have too many fond memories of managing diabetes prior to insulin pumping. Lantus was very uneven and inconsistent the last time I used it. I felt I could never get the dose quite right. I remember lots of carb guesstimates, and the wildly fluctuating levels that followed.

But at the same time I knew that I was armed with a lot more knowledge, and motivation compared to when I last did injections. I was actually curious as to whether I could apply these newfound skills into Multiple Daily Injections a second time round.

I gave 9 units of Lantus at around 9pm on the first night of my pump break, which was the sum of the 24 hour basal profile on my pump. I was pretty pleased to see that it did keep me fairly stable when I woke up the next morning.


I was definitely contemplating splitting my Lantus dose, but I wasn’t sure how best to go about it. The general consensus in forums seemed to be that Lantus lasted around 18 hours at best. After running high during the first two afternoons, I decided to experiment with a smaller second dose at 1pm to cover the final third of my day. 3 units seemed to be enough to cover, without sending me low overnight.

After months of diligent carb counting, I knew I definitely wouldn’t be able to survive without a bolus calculator. Although there were plenty of flashy diabetes apps to choose from in the App Store, many of them lacked a bolus calculator. I eventually found RapidCalc for $12.99. Although it didn’t have the flashiest interface, it fitted my needs nicely. I was able to set up my insulin to carb ratios, correction factors, insulin usage profile, and reminders for my Lantus doses.


This break definitely reinforced that to me that you tend to use less insulin on the pump. On the pump, I was using a carb ratio of 1:10g and a correction factor of 1:2.6mmol. On injections, I needed a ratio of 1:6g and a correction factor of 1:1.6mmol. Being off by even half a unit of insulin had a big impact on my blood sugar levels after meals.

What I loved most about injections was the simplicity of it all. There was instant relief from the lows, and far less thinking about where my blood sugar was heading. Small activities around the house had minimal effect on my blood sugar levels. I witnessed steady trend arrows on my Libre during afternoon walks, rather than downward ones. Using Lantus for my basal, rather than rapid acting insulin on the pump, made a BIG difference here. The only time I had to think about lows was when I had mealtime insulin on board.

Gotta say, it was also just awesome to sprawl out on the couch or in bed and not feel that chunk there in my pocket. And I loved having a little less weight in my pockets every time I left the house.

Overall, my blood sugar levels were just as good on injections as they were when I was pumping.

But shots were definitely a LOT of work. Although I carried my pen around with me in my pocket everywhere, I don’t shoot up in front of others. So I really had to make a point of finding a quiet corner to do so when I wanted to eat or correct a high blood sugar level. Speaking of, morning blood sugars were a LOT harder to manage. I didnt have the flexibility of increasing my basal insulin to cover the morning rise after I woke up. I often found myself giving at least 3 corrections after breakfast to bring me back into range. If I had stuck with injections for longer, I would definitely basal test with a few extra units of rapid acting insulin to cover the morning rise.

My pump break definitely reminded of something that Ginger at Diabetes Daily wrote recently. She says that neither pens or pumps were perfect, and that we were choosing between the flaws that bothered us the least. I couldn’t agree more.

For me personally, an insulin pump is a LOT more work than injections. Keeping on top of site changes, dying batteries and insulin cartridges, and having to be on my game in setting basal rates around my activity. It’s more careful thinking about what you’re doing. Not to mention the extra chunk in my pockets pulling my shorts down!

But a pump also offers me more convenience when I’m on the go, more precision in my basal rates and greater flexibility with insulin dosing to cover different kinds of meals.

For the time being, those benefits outweigh the flaws when managing my diabetes.