Lindsay Shaw

Insulin Pumps

What is an insulin pump? 

An insulin pump is a small computerized device worn outside the body that delivers insulin to your body through a tiny plastic tube. The pump is about the size of a cell phone and can be clipped onto your pants and hidden underneath your clothes. Insulin pumps deliver one type of insulin (rapid) in a way that is closer to a healthy pancreas.

What are the lifestyle benefits of an insulin pump? 

More flexibility.  You can program the pump to give more or less basal (between meal) insulin at different times of the day.  For example you could set the basal rate lower during exercise or higher when you're taking Prednisone.

Less Needles. Only one "needle stick" every 3 days when you change the infusion site, instead of a needle every time you take insulin. Also, you can eat a meal or snack whenever you want, without having to worry about giving yourself another needle.

Better coverage.  The pump allows a bolus (meal-time insulin) to be given over several hours, instead of all at once.  This can be very helpful for those who snack over a period of several hours or for high fat meals that take a long time to digest.

Calculation help.  The pump can keep track of your insulin to carbohydrate ratio for each meal and your correction factor.  If you enter your blood sugar result and the amount of carbohydrate you're about to eat, it will give you an insulin dose suggestion. 

What are the health benefits of an insulin pump? 

According to research in patients with CFRD, the pump can help you to achieve better blood sugar control, a better weight and more muscle mass.  Also, people using the pump had less low blood sugars.

Does it hurt?

- If the infusion set is inserted properly, you shouldn't feel it at all.
- The needle does not remain under your skin. The needle is only used to insert the tiny plastic tube under your skin and then it is disposed of.

Is an insulin pump for me? 

The pump is not for everyone.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can you carbohydrate count or can you learn to?
2. Do you check your blood sugars at least four times a day?
3. Would you mind wearing the pump attached to your clothes throughout most of the day?
4. Can you commit to several appointments to learn how to use your pump and to set up your insulin needs?

What is the process to get an insulin pump? 

1. The first step is to see a diabetes doctor (endocrinologist) to assess whether you are a good candidate for a pump.  They may want to see you a few times to make sure that you check your blood sugars often and know how to carbohydrate count.
2. Then, the endocrinologist will refer you to a diabetes education centre.  The St Michael's Hospital diabetes education centre at 61 Queen St. E on the 7th floor.  They will help you to apply for ADP funding from the government for the insulin pump and supplies.
3. Once you have been approved, the pump will be shipped to you.  You will then make an appointment at the diabetes education centre to learn how to use your pump.  You will get lots of practice before you start receiving your insulin from the pump.
4. Once you are up and running with your pump, you will be followed in the CF clinic for your blood sugar control as usual.