About to start pumping?

By | 4 November, 2009

I have a few friends starting on pumps soon so having previously discussed getting funding for a pump, choosing a pump and answering the top questions people ask about pumps, I thought a few top tips on starting pumping might be helpful.

Firstly, don’t underestimate it; starting a pump is a big change.

Research, research, research. My bible was Pumping Insulin by John Walsh. It’s quite technical but it tells you everything you could need to know about using an insulin pump. I read it before I started pumping, used it to work out what my insulin dosages should be and then re-read it once I’d started on the pump. I’d have been lost without it.

Some of the pump companies do good online training which you can do before you start on the pump. Whatever you do, make sure you do some reading before you start, that way you’ll hit the ground running and it won’t all be quite so alien to you.

Think about taking someone with you to your pump training. I took the husband and it made it so much easier. There is a lot to remember, and it makes such a difference to have someone else who’s been through the training when you’ve forgotten how to change an infusion set!

Don’t panic! You didn’t learn all about diabetes on the day you were diagnosed and the same goes for getting your pump. Understand the basics first, then have a play with the more advanced settings.

Test, test, test – it’s the only way you’re going to work out your insulin rates. If you can get your hands on a CGMS, if only for a few days, I think they make a real difference in helping you to work out what’s working and what isn’t.

Don’t be disheartened. It took me about 3 months to get to the point where I was as comfortable with my pump as I was beforehand. I loved it from day 1, it just took time to work it all out.

Don’t be surprised if you wake up in a cold sweat because you think you’ve forgotten to take your Lantus, then realise that you don’t need it any more. That took a while for me to get used to.

Always carry a spare syringe with you. The proper advice is that you should always carry a spare infusion set in case you rip it out, it blocks etc. Because I’m a bad diabetic who hates carrying junk, I don’t do this if I’m just out for the day. If you’re stubbornly stupid like me, at least carry a syringe with you – that way you’re not completely scuppered when you have one of those days.

Fellow pumpers, do you have any other top tips for those about to enter the world of pumps for the first time?

7 thoughts on “About to start pumping?

  1. Alan

    Agree with everything said by Alison, noting that after 7 months of using a pump after being T1 for 42 years, I still haven’t got hold of a spare syringe as Alison suggests – before the pump, I was using Flexpens and eventually these will go beyond their expiry dates. Referring back to the last point, last week I was working in London and decided to take a spare infusion set with me on the train. Remembered to put a vial of insulin in the plastic bag but forgot to take the spring loaded infusion set insertion device …. phew! Glad I didn’t need to replace my infusion set – by hand!

    Also – be prepared to become obsessive about BG levels – at least I have! It’s test, test test test for me at the moment but take care not to make adjustments to things based on a single day’s experience – look back at readings and adjust if several days’ results suggest that you should.


    1. Alison

      @Alan I tried keeping a spare pen in my bag but when I checked it after about a year, the insulin was out of date and the needle was blocked so I gave up on that one! Good point re not making adjustments based on a single day’s results – my gut instinct is to change things straight away, I have to be really disciplined to wait a couple of days before changing.

  2. Phyl

    My 13-yo son has his pump on order. We’re very excited (and I’m very nervous). Thank you for this. I’m interested in the John Walsh book and I appreciate the recommendation.

  3. Tim

    @Phyl I’ve got a copy of the John Walsh book in anticipation of finally getting a pump – it’s a pretty thrilling roller-coaster ride; plot’s not great – it turns out the butler did it after all…

  4. Charlie

    I just started on my pump before Christmas – so far, so good! It is a life changing thing, and has taken a lot of adjustment to get used to it – I have to look after myself now.. lots of tests, bolus doses varying all the time.. I have an Animas 2020 – no choice, but it seems pretty good. I carry spares of everything everywhere now too! I’m seeing the nurse tomorrow for my next check up – I’ll let you know how it goes, but I had my HbA1C done the other week prior to the appointment and it’s down from about 12 to 7.7!!!! I’m impressed, so hope she will be too. I’ve got my life back, I’m looking after myself and things so far seem to be working well, just hope I can keep it up with the excitement of a new gadget, and hope the novelty doesn’t give way to complacency…


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