Three years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during my first semester of college. For the first two years I was completely unsure about switching from insulin pens to an insulin pump because I felt uncomfortable having a device attached to me 24/7. It wasn’t until I attended the CDN Annual Retreat last summer and saw the many different ways other students manage their diabetes that I decided to research different pumps and consider getting one. At the retreat I was able to hear from other college students about what their experiences with different pumps were like. After a lot of research and contemplation about becoming a pump user, I finally decided to contact Omnipod to begin the process of getting an insulin pump. I have now been wearing an Omnipod for one year and could not be happier with my decision to stop using pens. Below are a few things I like and dislike about using an Omnipod insulin pump.
1. Like: There are no tubes attached.
One of my biggest worries about having a pump was the tubing that came along with it. When I learned of Insulet’s tubeless pod I quickly ruled out all other pumps. For me, having a tubeless pump makes concealing the pod under clothing much easier. I don’t have to worry about finding a place for the Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) to clip onto my clothes that is accessible in public, and I don’t have to worry about hiding tubing either. The PDM serves as a glucose meter and controls the pump wirelessly so I can just carry it in my bag.
2. Like: The pod is waterproof.
I absolutely love having a pod that can stand being in a shower, pool, or any other situation with water. Although other pumps are waterproof, I was not very interested in the idea of having to remove my pump every time I wanted to take a shower or go swimming. Having a pump that is waterproof and doesn’t need to be removed, makes it a lot easier to get up and go instead of taking a few extra minutes to remove the pump and store it properly. I also feel less worried about ruining the pump if I forget to take it off and end up getting it wet.
3. Like: Pods are small.
Before looking into different pumps I was worried about having something fairly large and bulky attached to my body. After trying out a Demo Pod I realized how small and comfortable the pods are. I can place a pod in any location that is recommended and completely forget it is there. It is also small and streamlined enough that wearing tight clothing is not a problem and it doesn’t get in the way when I exercise or play sports.
4. Like: Ability to suspend insulin delivery.
While using insulin pens I found that during or after workouts and other physical activity, my blood sugar would go low. With my Omnipod I have the option of suspending insulin delivery or setting a temporary basal rate. These features have prevented my blood sugar from going too low overnight which has always been a big fear of mine, giving me peace of mind. I really like being able to set a temporary basal rate overnight if I know my roommate will not be in the room to help me get back to normal if I wake up low.
5. Dislike: Loud alarms
The Omnipod alarms are both something I like and dislike. Both the pod and PDM have alarms that sound when different things happen (low reservoir, pod expiration, blood sugar test reminders). There is an option to change alarms to vibrate on the PDM, but this doesn’t stop all alarms from sounding out loud. One thing I get annoyed by is how many times the alarms sound even if I turn off the notification on the PDM. The only way to completely stop the alarms from sounding every few minutes is to turn the pump off (not advised) or doing what it requires, even if you want to continue using the pod (pods last eight hours past the 72 hour expiration but the alarm will keep sounding until you change the pod). The biggest problem I have with the alarms are while I am sleeping or in class. Occasionally an alarm will sound in the middle of class and will sound every few minutes until the pod is shut off. It would be nice if the alarm would sound once every 20-30 minutes instead of every five minutes. I also wish I was able to turn the alarm volume down a little because it can be obnoxious.
Having used the Omnipod insulin pump for the last seven months, I could not be happier with my decision to switch from insulin pens. Not only has the pump allowed for easier and better control of my blood sugar, but I feel more like a normal person. I would also suggest talking to fellow T1D’s who use the Omnipod or a pump in general about their experiences and contacting your doctor to see if they have test pods you can wear for a few days. If you have been considering switching to an insulin pump I would highly recommend checking out the Omnipod!
Editors note: Insulet, makers of the Omnipod®, is a CDN Corporate Member. One of our CDN students who uses the Omnipod as part of her diabetes management wrote this blog about her personal experience.
Pump companies also have local reps you can reach out to. If you are interested in learning more about a certain pump, contact the company and ask to be connected with a local rep to learn more! There are often reps in attendance at local diabetes events, CDN chapter tech nights, JDRF Type One Nation Summits, and more.
If you’re considering Omnipod, the best way to understand what it’s like is to try it yourself. You can get a free Demo Kit, which includes a sample, non-functioning Pod, and see what you think.