Last updated: Apr 23, 2008
insulin-pump
Pumps finely tune insulin to your body's needs, but can require a lot of tinkering.
(ISTOCKPHOTO)
Insulin pumps are used most often by people with type 1 diabetes, due to their more complicated insulin injection regimen. Only 5% of the more than 5,000 individuals who are members of insulin-pumpers.org, an online community for people interested in insulin-pump therapy, have type 2.


So is the pump a good option for type 2 patients? Yes, if they require multiple daily insulin injections and don't mind programming and wearing the pump every day.

'I wanted my freedom'
Jan Chait, a 59-year-old freelance writer in Terre Haute, Ind., used to take NPH (an intermediate-acting insulin) and regular insulin, but all the clock-watching was a drag. "I just wanted my freedom," she says. That's why nine years ago she switched to an insulin pump. She is one of a relatively small percentage of people with type 2 diabetes who use this insulin-delivery device.

Chait finds the pump easy to use. "I was familiar with them because I had several friends who had pumps, and they always talked about how wonderful it was, the flexibility, I mean the ultimate flexibility. It's almost like not having diabetes anymore," she says. "Not quite, but almost, because you can set the basal rates to your body's natural cycles." For example, some people require less insulin at night; Chait, though, needs more.

Consider the pros and cons
Still, there are many pros and cons to consider. Advantages include eliminating many individual injections, improving hemoglobin A1C, and delivering insulin more accurately.

On the other hand, some people may find it bothersome to be attached to a machine most of the time. And you may need quite a bit of training before you're ready to fly solo. In addition, list members on insulin-pumpers.org test their blood sugar 7.2 times a day, on average.

Chait first learned the ropes of pump programming, such as setting basal rates, at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. After a few years using the pump, she needed her dosing adjusted.

To get help, she traveled to Salinas, Calif., in the spring of 2003 to see a registered dietitian/certified diabetes educator at the Diabetes Care Center, which specializes in diabetes outpatient treatment, education, and research. She returned to adjust her dosing again in 2004.

"It took me a little while to figure out how to set my own rate because I'm a writer not a mathematician," she says.