You know what’s kind of crazy to me? A year ago this month, I started using my OmniPod insulin pump. It marked my abandonment of injections for the first time in 17 years of having diabetes.
In the past year, I learned a lot about the OmniPod and pumping in general. There are some major advantages of using a pump, including:
- This is probably the best thing about pumping. Gone are the days where I would have to whip out a needle, pinch up some skin, and jab myself in public in order for me to eat my food. I can bolus literally anywhere I want without feeling self-conscious about it.
- Intelligence. I freaking love that my OmniPod is smart. It’s programmed to know what my insulin to carb ratios are, how much basal insulin I need, how much insulin on board (IOB) I have, and so much more. It makes bolusing a more streamlined process.
- I can control whether I want to increase, decrease, or suspend my insulin at any given point using my OmniPod PDM. This comes in handy in a number of circumstances, including when I’m working out and when I’m sick.
- Usability. Prior to my pump, bolusing involved locating an insulin pen, screwing a needle onto it, priming the pen, dialing up the amount of insulin to inject, and piercing my skin with the needle. Now, bolusing means pushing a few buttons. And it’s virtually pain-free.
- Improved A1c. Okay, just kidding, THIS is what makes a pump worth it. My A1c has gone down practically a whole point compared to where I was a year ago. That’s unbelievable! I know that I deserve some credit for making a real effort to improve, but there’s no doubt that my pump has immensely helped me accomplish this.
Of course, there are also a number of disadvantages, some of which I wish I had given more thought to before going on the pump:
- It’s relatively rare for my pods to fail…but when they do, boy, it’s infuriating and inconvenient. There really is never a warning as to when it could happen, and the device doesn’t care if you’re showering, working, or sleeping. It’ll fail and it’ll WAIL when it happens, meaning that it makes a merciless, high-pitched beeping sound when it ceases to function. As a result, you’re forced to deal with a broken pod that won’t shut up until you rip it off your body and throw it into the freezer—yes, this is a real coping tactic. Others include sticking a paperclip into the manual alarm shut-off port (usually ineffective) or smashing the pod into smithereens with a hammer (very effective).
- Self-consciousness. I didn’t think I’d have an issue with wearing a device on my body 24/7; after all, I already use a Dexcom CGM. But the fact that I now have TWO things permanently attached to me doesn’t do any favors for my body confidence, especially during the summer months.
- My pump is disruptive on a daily basis, with all the beeping and ticking sounds it makes. When I first started wearing it, I found the ticking sound that goes off every couple minutes incredibly distracting. It didn’t take long for me to tune it out, particularly when it emits loud beeps that are more obnoxious. The pod will chirp a number and range of beeps when you administer a bolus, when the bolus is done, when you change your basal rate, when you suspend or resume insulin delivery, four hours before it expires, the moment it actually does expire…and during meetings at work, when you have to get up and embarrassedly leave the room momentarily to fetch your PDM and put an end to the beeping.
- Adhesiveness. This is a minor negative associated with the pump, but I wish it had a stronger adhesive. And before you ask, yes, I do use skin-prep wipes that are designed to encourage medical devices to stay stuck on longer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work as well as it should. I’ve had a handful of pods that needed to be replaced because they prematurely fell off my body.
- Yes, I enjoy the functionality of the OmniPod, but I don’t like the finicky nature of the system. This is nitpicky of me, but I find it odd that I have to suspend insulin delivery in order to change information on the PDM like the date or time. Speaking of, it’s also bizarre that when changing my pod, it must be placed as close as possible and to the right of my PDM. Weirdly specific and I’m not sure why this is necessary, but it’s the way I was taught.
Overall, I take the bad with the good and embrace the OmniPod for its various eccentricities. I don’t regret swallowing my pride and making the decision to switch from injections to pumping. In my case, it was the tool I needed to help me obtain my best A1c reading in years.