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Are You Ready for a Pump

At first glance, an insulin pump may seem like the answer to all your diabetes frustrations... no more shots? Sign me up! But like any other diabetes management approach, insulin pumps have both pros and cons. To augment your chance for success, you may want to carefully consider any decision to switch to an Insulin Pump program in light of the following:


Your child has had diabetes for long enough to be ready for this transition. Some physicians recommend at least one year post-diagnosis before starting pump therapy; some physicians are willing to start much sooner, if pump therapy seems to be a good match for a particular family.
Your child is seen at least once a year by a diabetes health care team and your family consults them as necessary.
Your child is not excessively afraid of needles, so will be able to tolerate infusion set insertions.

Both you and your child/teen are interested in an insulin pump.
Your child/teen checks his blood glucose at least 4 times a day and records the results.
You or your child accurately count carbs, or consistently follow a meal plan.

You are familiar with a basal-bolus approach to diabetes management, or are willing to learn.
You analyze blood glucose results regularly and make appropriate adjustments.
Your teen allows you (her parents) to help with her diabetes management.
(For young children) You have a plan for monitoring and pump operation when your child is out of your care (school; day care).
Your province has pump coverage or you have the financial resources or private health care insurance to cover the cost of pump therapy. (initial cost of $6000-7000, with ongoing monthly pump supply costs of $400-500 or more).
For information about pump coverage in Alberta, click here.

You and your child/teen are prepared to spend at least 3 days in pump education sessions, plus frequent phone/email contact for 1 month. Your family is ready for the learning curve, willing to learn new skills and routines.
You and your child/teen have realistic expectations for what a pump can and will do, in terms of quality of life and effective blood glucose management; Pumping fits with your family’s lifestyle and blood glucose management goals.

We suggest the following steps for exploring whether an insulin pump fits for your family:

1. Clarify Your Expectations.

"Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.”

-L.M Montgomery

While an insulin pump offers much more than “nothing”, it is worth asking yourself: What do you hope to gain from insulin pump therapy? To throw out all the rules of effective diabetes management? To eliminate diabetes frustration? To do less work and get better blood glucose results? If so, you may want to re-examine whether an insulin pump will do all you expect it to do.

The Animas website (one manufacturer of insulin pumps in Canada) has a useful self-assessment tool: “Is Insulin Pump Therapy Right for Me?” We also suggest that you speak with your child’s diabetes health care team about what you – and your child – hope to achieve with insulin pump therapy.
2. Review the pros and cons of insulin pump therapy.
Are there any pros that encourage you? Any cons that discourage you? Discuss them with your child’s diabetes health care team; gather enough information to make an informed decision.
tips from the trenches of type 1 diabetesMy son has been using an insulin pump for over 3 years now, but I remember those first six months, when my husband and I would have gladly thrown the pump in the nearest large body of water, if our son had not been so in love with it! There was a lot to learn initially, and his blood glucose management did not improve much at first. But the improvement in his quality of life was instant and rewarding. Now I can honestly say we would be hard-pressed to go back to injections.

3. Explore the different insulin pump companies in Canada. Research the available features. Chat with the company representatives to get a feel for what their pump has to offer.

4. Discuss pumping with your child or teen. In our experience, it seems that a transition to pumping works best when the child/teen who will be wearing the pump is on board with the decision. A kid who feels powerless because of a decision made unilaterally by his parents will often find a way to undermine that decision.

Any questions? Comments? Feel free to Contact Us.

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.

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