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Pump Up the Volume; But Which Pump Should I Choose?

August 27, 2013
  1. I’m happy for another beautiful day in Philadelphia.
  2. I’m grateful we have another taco restaurant to choose in the neighborhood.
  3. I’m happy I was able to get all my parking matters taken care of quickly at the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

For 30 and a half years, I’ve had diabetes. First it was “juvenile diabetes.” The it was reclassified as “Type 1” diabetes. There are rumors it’s going to be reclassified again, but to me it’s always just been diabetes.

When I was first diagnosed, my treatment options were simple: regular and NPH insulins, taken at standard points throughout the day, with the amount of exercise or exertion I was going to do for the next 12 hours predicted. Then it was a matter of being able to be lucky, on some level or another, and having ample amounts of sugar available in case anything bad happened.

This is how I treated my diabetes (it’s one of the few things that, over the past 30 years, I’ve ever really be able to truly call my own) for the first 18 years. Then I was introduced to Lantus and Humulog (now Novolog), the immediate-acting synthetic insulins that have made a world’s difference to the way I’ve treated my diabetes for the last 12-plus years. With these insulins it’s been easier to keep a tighter control, knowing that I can make adjustments when I test my sugars at different points of the day; not having to put up with uncomfortable highs.

Things have been good.

I remember appointments with assorted endocrinologists through the years who have said, “You should switch to the pump.” (Disclosure: I don’t put up with endocrinologists whom I don’t feel have my best interests, or don’t know my case well enough. If you want to have me as a patient, you’d better take the time to be familiar with me, and don’t conspire with insurance companies. F&%kers.)

I’d always follow this question up with the fact that my hemoglobin A1c results (which show the blood sugar levels over an extended period of time) have been good. Very good. Really, really good. Like, in the 6.2 to 6.5 region. (Additional disclosure: My latest A1c result was a 6.5.) I’d ask the offending endocrinologists, “How will switching to the pump improve my quality of life? What noticeable improvement will there be for me?”

More than once, I’ve gotten the answer, “I don’t know.”

I’m not making a major life change for “I don’t know.”

Back about 11 months ago I was hired to do some freelance work for an ad agency here in Philly, working on an insulin pump manufacturer’s account, doing content strategy. It got me very, very familiar with their product, as well as their competitors, and got me to rethinking whether a pump would be right for me.

I don’t see the point of switching until the latest models are approved by the FDA. I don’t see the point of switching to something that doesn’t have incorporated continuous glucose monitoring. (Otherwise, I might as well just stay on the multiple daily injections.) One of the device manufacturers (I won’t say whether it’s the one I worked on) has these incorporated devices, along with a low-glucose suspend feature in their device, which is awaiting FDA approval.

Right now, the leading candidates for my patronage are Medtronic, Animas and OmniPod. With the last two options, I’d also probably have to involve a continuous glucose monitoring device, like a Dexcom monitor.

Right now, I’m not sure which way I’ll go, I just think, with some life changes that have occurred over the past couple years (I’m looking at you, Owen), that the time might be coming to make the change.

I’d like to hear from some other diabetics (or, as is becoming more acceptable in an odd, politically correct way, “People With Diabetes”) about what products are working for them, what they’ve had problems with, what the adjustment was when they made the change.

Any additional info would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

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