How to Get Started with the Pump
One of the first concerns with starting the pump often is insurance coverage. The great news is that most insurance companies cover the pump, including government programs. Clinical research has proven that pump therapy is one of the best ways to control blood sugar and postpone complications. The first step is to get your doctor to prescribe the pump for you. (Note that any physician can prescribe a pump -- even a child's pediatrician.) With this prescription in hand, you can approach your insurance company. You could also work with your pump company, as they will do the insurance paperwork for you -- which is a whole lot easier.
How do you choose a pump?
When you're in the market for an insulin pump, you'll want to research each pump company (Animas
Tandem) and the many pumps available today. You'll also want to ask your diabetes team for a recommendation. You might also want to visit our chat rooms and ask parents, teens, and adults about their experiences with insulin pumps. As you research the various pumps, keep these factors in mind:
- Ease of use
- Waterproof, if you're involved in water activities a lot
- Safety features
- Access to service
- Training and educational support
- Features (insulin volume, bolus types, basal programs)
- Appealing look (you're going to be wearing the pump 24x7)
Learning how to use a pump
Kids and their parents both need to go through training to learn how to use the pump. It's important that training be a team process, involving your diabetes team and a pump trainer. You may also need to spend some time with a dietitian experienced in diabetes care to help learn about counting carbohydrates for your bolus doses.
There will be a transition period between shots and the pump. Often the new pumper will use a pump with saline instead of insulin to become adjusted to wearing one. Then, there will be a period of time where you'll be wearing a real pump and testing your blood sugars a lot to figure out the right basal rates and bolus doses. Some doctors like their new pumpers to stay in the hospital for a day or two so that they can more closely monitor their blood sugar, right down to the hour. That's not always necessary though. However, you will be doing a lot of blood glucose testing during the first several days of wearing a pump, so try to plan a pump start for a time when you can get up during the night to check blood sugars.
It's true that the pump requires some time to learn. However, you are rewarded with schedule flexibility once you're up and "pumping." What's more, you get complete control of your insulin and your eating schedule, so you can feel better and live life on your terms.