A few months ago, my 8-year-old and 11-year-old daughters, both of whom have Type 1 diabetes, switched from the Tandem t:slim and the Animas insulin pumps to Omnipod. After a summer spent disconnecting from their insulin pumps for swim team, a pump with no tubing was a welcome relief. But it hasn’t been all good. Here is an OmniPod review from a D-mom with way too much insulin pump experience.
The Good: The good, of course, is that there is no tubing. No more priming the tubing, no more air bubbles in the tubing, and no more getting your tubing stuck on kitchen cabinet knobs. There is now no disconnecting for the shower or for swimming or for gymnastics, so basal insulin is always being delivered. And with no disconnecting, there is no forgetting to reconnect after those activities. I know I’m not the only one who has bolused into a bookbag.
In addition to the major perk of not having tubing, the OmniPod offers more placement choices since you don’t have to worry about how you will feed the tubing through clothing. This can give the areas most commonly used a much needed break. My daughters have, for the most part, continued to use the same areas for the pods as they did with their former infusion sets, but even an occasional use of a new location is a plus.
Another nice thing about the OmniPod is that the process to change the infusion set is simpler. This means that my daughters can do it themselves more easily and at a younger age. It still hurts, though. But, because you can decorate the pods with colored markers before you use them, there is a little added joy to what is otherwise an unpleasant process. My daughters delight in turning their pods into ladybugs, sneakers, and bumblebees.
With OmniPod, I appreciate that I can make all basal rate changes and temporary basal rate changes with the PDM remote device, so there is no more fishing for the t:slim or Animas pumps to make those changes. We rarely used a temp basal with the Animas pump because you could not make that change on the remote device. Now it’s a convenient option again.
The Bad: The OmniPod will alarm when it’s time to change it in 3 days’ time. It doesn’t care if you’re in school, in bed, or at a Broadway show, or in the marching band. That alarm is going off and it will keep going off. Another negative aspect of the OmniPod is that, while the PDM is helpful for setting basal rates, it’s rather annoying that you need to use the remote device to bolus insulin. No more reaching down to the insulin pump to cover for food. Now you have to find the PDM and keep it near you in order to eat anything. After years of not having to do this, the PDM always seems to be upstairs when we’re downstairs. Also, it doesn’t have the quick bolus feature like the Tslim does.
And The Ugly: Sometimes the pod emits a high pitched continuous alarm. We ignored the PDM pod change alarm during a Broadway show, but then the pod itself began a non-stop, ear-piercing alarm. Another time the pod spontaneously began the continuous alarm, so we changed it, but forgot that we were now off the evening schedule of pod changes. Three days later, the pod alarmed in school, and I had to travel to the school with pods for the set change. Another time a new pod alarmed continuously during the pod changing process (prior to application on the body). Apparently the old pod was too close to the new pod and so the new pod alarmed. That meant the new pod could not be used and the insulin in it was wasted. Now we make sure to have two pods on hand during a set change in case one alarms and becomes unusable. (Many people don’t seem to know that you can send the used pods back to the company for recycling. OmniPod will mail you prepaid packaging to do this if you request it.)
After an interesting experience, my younger daughter has returned to the Animas, but it’s nice to know that we have a backup pump if needed.
(We participated in the OmniPod No Tubes Attached program, a program we learned about at the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life Conference in Orlando this past summer.)