I used insulin injections for around 13 years. I can’t be too hard on them, they kept me alive for a start! I’d obviously heard about insulin pumps and wasn’t keen at first. The idea of having to wear one 24/7 was really off putting. In the end the biggest motivator for me was being told it could help me have even better control whilst trying to conceive and for carrying a baby. Being a pregnant type 1 is very daunting and knowing that you are solely responsible for the health of your unborn child is petrifying.
Pregnant type 1’s are much more likely to experience miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects and many more. The best way to minismise these happening is through excellent blood sugar control, so without hesitation I signed up to pump.
I’ve been using a pump for almost three years now and I would never, ever, (one extra so you get my point) EVER go back to injections. A lot of type 1’s are put off by having to wear a fairly cumbersome pump and I agree, it’s not ideal, but the benefits, in my experience are amazing.
When talking through your options with your HCP, they don’t always explain some of the best benefits of the pump. This is through no fault of their own, it’s because – guess what? They’re not actually diabetic and couldn’t possibly understand the immense sense of freedom it gives to us (in my experience anyway)
On injections I got so fed up of having to eat carbs all day every day. For me, it was the only way injections worked. Also, with hypos you have to not only have sugar, but complex carbs to back it up. On the pump you can do away with the stodgy carbs and just have the sugar. A nice added bonus of this was me losing roughly a stone in weight. Pass me those jeans from 10 years ago, please!
I find eating so much more enjoyable now. Yes I still have to count carbs, but that’s second nature now anyway. I can finally, successfully have carb free snacks and meals and because my bolus is custom set to my body and lifestyle, it doesn’t affect my blood sugars and I have less hypos.
Freedom – seriously, this is the best part. If I want to go for a long walk, run around with my son like a nutter, or go on a night out, I can do it with the drop of a hat and I don’t have to eat extra food because of it. I just set a temporary reduced basal rate and off I go on my merry way. This also goes for hot weather, stress, illness, time of the month (ladies, you know your blood sugars have a mind of their own at this time) tiredness and everything else that blood sugars are affected by.
There are some downsides. If your cannula insertion goes wrong, or stops working, then your blood sugar can rise very high, very quickly. Early on I did have one unfortunate experience that involved my husband calling an ambulance and two very nice paramedics coming to my rescue. This is because your body doesn’t have that constant background insulin that you’d have on injections, unless the pump is working properly. This is the only major issue I’ve had in three years and I was very new to it, so as long as you test your blood sugars and try not to change your cannula before bed you should be fine.
It is also a bit complicated to fill the syringe and change your insertion site every three days, but after a few goes it is easy enough.
I have recently changed from a medtronic pump to an omnipod. The medtronic was great, but the tubing was a pain and the pump is quite big – meaning you need to have big pockets, or a big bra to hide it in (ladies, or men, I don’t judge) The omnipod is much smaller and has no tubing. I’m loving it. It’s also water proof, so no clock watching in the pool anymore (you can only be without the medtronic for an hour and it’s not water proof) and you can leave it on in the shower, etc. Awesome.
(Above: the Medtronic with tubing. Above the omnipod)
These are obviously just my experiences and everyone is different, but I find in the busy life I lead I am freer and my BG control is better. Win win.
I’ll post a separate blog about type 1 diabetes and pregnancy, but spoiler alert I now have a healthy, happy 3 year old (yay, me!)
If you have any questions please comment below, or contact me on Twitter: @SarahSmjordan