Why I Ditched My Insulin Pump for Injections

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Leggings became popular when I was a junior in high school. Not only were they comfortable, but they were considered stylish with a long top. I had an issue with leggings, though: my insulin pump. When I started wearing leggings as pants (against my mother’s wishes), my pump would drag them down and I’d have to pull them up all day. This might sound like a little thing to you, but it drove me absolutely insane. True, there was the bra alternative for my pump, but it always felt weird and embarrassing to shove my hand down my shirt whenever I had to bolus.

That was the beginning of my disdain for wearing medical devices. I hated the way my pump interfered with my outfits. I hated the middle of the night beeping. And I really hated changing the reservoir. Yet, since I’d been pumping since I was eight years old, by the time I was in my freshman year of college, being on a pump was all I knew. I lived with the feeling that I’d have to always have to wear something that made me unhappy. I went to my endocrinologist and told him how I couldn’t stand pumping any longer and I didn’t know what to do.

His simple response stunned me.

“Lauren, you can go back on shots. You know that right?”

Honestly, hadn’t ever thought it was an option.

With my endo’s blessing and to my mother’s horror, I made the decision to go on a “pumpcation” and switched over to Lantus/Humolog injections. I felt tremendous freedom when I took off my pump. And very quickly my control improved. Being off of the pump made me resent diabetes much less. Treating with MDI (multiple daily injections), at that point in my life, was a more reasonable way to fit diabetes into my life.

When I began to tell people that I was among the fortunate people who have the opportunity to pump but I don’t, they’d tell me I was crazy. Why would I neglect my care that way?

My junior year of college, I interned at JDRF’s Government Relations office. For their annual Government Day, hundreds of volunteers flew in from across the nation to meet members of Congress and discuss the need for continued diabetes research. As an intern, I was sent to various different meetings. Since it was Capitol Hill, there was a lot of waiting in security lines. I was hanging out with a few volunteers when a man in line started chatting with us. We told him why we were on the Hill and out of nowhere he said, “anyone who isn’t on an insulin pump is purposely neglecting their care.” I let him know that I was using shots and that I was perfectly healthy. The two volunteers I was standing with backed me up; one of their children was also using shots.

While data do show that insulin pumping can improve health outcomes, and a recent study in BMJ concluded, “Among people with type 1 diabetes use of insulin pump therapy is associated with lower cardiovascular mortality than treatment with multiple daily insulin injections,” quality of life also needs to be taken into consideration. My endocrinologist and I work hard together to make sure that my diabetes management is successful. He told me that there is no reason whatsoever for me to be on a pump if I don’t want to be. One of the “good” things about diabetes is that – if you have good health care –you have options.

It has been almost five years since the appointment that I had with my endocrinologist about my “pumpcation” and I am still doing well. (And even my mother is no longer horrified). I’ve gone back on my pump for a few weeks at a time, but I always end up taking it off again. I am happier with less attached to me. The burden of diabetes is more than enough to carry around.

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Carlee BeeRyan BMarsha BishopMarnie LiVolsiLaura Recent comment authors
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Carlee Bee
Carlee Bee

I Love this article! It is so refreshing to know that someone else feels more liberated without the pump. I have been diabetic for 28 years now and I am almost 35 so, diabetes is my life. I went on the pump 9 years ago after my second son was born. They told me it would be better than the shots and for a while is was. The problem is, now I am having the worst trouble with my weight and my endocrinologist is saying its because they can’t get my pump settings right and insurance wont cover me to… Read more »

Ryan B
Ryan B

Right On! I was Diagnosed as type 1 when I was seven years old; I am 40 now and I have always been on injections. Never wanted the pump, never will. Live how you wanna Live ! Soon enough it will be cured.

Marsha Bishop
Marsha Bishop

Thank you for writhing this article. It is a refreshing view on the MDI side of diabetes. My son is 15 1/2 years old and has had diabetes for almost 6 years. He wore a pump for almost a year early on in his diagnosis. For him if was like a ball and chain. He’s very athletic and he felt he constantly had to worry about his site getting hit or just trying to keep the darn thing dry while swimming so it wouldn’t fall off and require inserting a new one. He felt so bogged down with this device… Read more »

Marnie LiVolsi
Marnie LiVolsi

My daughter is 14 and has had type 1 for four years. She has only been on MDI since diagnosis she has no interest in having any apparatus attached to her and I let her make that decision. Our endocrinologist feels that decision is fine since her A1C is always under 6. I say use whatever works

Laura
Laura

Thank you for this wonderful article! My son has been T1 for four years and has always been on MDI. He didn’t want a pump connected to him 24/7 and I support him 100%. As you said, if you don’t resent how you treat your condition, you look after yourself much better. He does a great job and likes the freedom being on injections gives him. Yes, we have taken some criticism about how it would be so much better for him to be pumping but if he is healthy, happy and living a great life (and maintaining good control),… Read more »

Pat Knowski
Pat Knowski

Lauren – thank you for sharing your experience. My daughter is 12 1/2 years old & has been doing MDI since 11 months old! It’s all she’s known. She’s been to pump seminars but decides it’s not for her and her endo agreed as long as we had good management we were good to go. She’s had to endure critical comments for people so I can’t wait to show her this article to know she isn’t alone, and also, that it’s from another CC delegate!! We met your mom in July of 2013 when Shannon represented WI at CC. Everyone… Read more »

Anna Kiff (FatCatAnna)

Love hearing more and more diabetics either taking a break from pumps … or taking a “holiday” (that’s my words). I’d been injecting for 41 years since I was diagnosed at 6 … and then decided to try out a few freebie insulin pumps (in those days – they wanted you to try them for free – what’s to lose?). Like you Meredith, I like the freedom from the pump, and am glad I know how to do both methods of control of my diabetic health that way. In my field of work in the diabetes area of advocacy here… Read more »

Sarah Meidl
Sarah Meidl

Awesome article! Meredith took a “pumpcation” when she was in 2nd grade. Had been dx 6 years and was tired of it. She did MDI for 4 months and then decided to go back to pumping. When she was struggling with her pump, I told her that insulin was not an option, but its delivery method was an option. And, you mom helped me tremendously. Thank you for being you!

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