Adjusting to Life with an Insulin Pump

Although bad habits cause problems and are difficult to change, good habits can keep us on-track and healthy, and, once established, they are easy to maintain.

Adjusting successfully from insulin injections to an insulin pump is largely a matter of learning and practicing good pump habits until they become second nature. This includes putting in the effort and patience required to navigate the pump’s learning curve.

The learning curve is less about how to operate the pump and more about getting the insulin settings just right for your needs, including how to adjust for activities such as exercise. It might take several months to feel at ease with a pump, but most pump users say the lifestyle flexibility and glucose control that pumps offer makes them worth the effort.

Cultivating Good Habits

The American Diabetes Association recommends cultivating the following good habits to facilitate a successful adjustment to an insulin pump:

  1. Get in the habit of bringing extra insulin supplies with you wherever you go — at the very least, an emergency insulin pen. Though pumps are generally reliable, you will want to be prepared for the possibility of a pump hiccup.
  2. Get in the habit of taking your bolus doses at the same time every day, such as five minutes before mealtime. Repetition creates the habit.
  3. Since you will sometimes turn the pump off or take it off, always use the same system to remind yourself to restart the pump. This will forge the habit of using the pump’s alarms or of setting a timer to jog your memory — and all memories need jogging now and again.
  4. Insulin pumps give people more flexibility about when, what and how much to eat. It is possible to eat more carbohydrates than when using injections and still maintain good blood sugar levels. However, those delicious extra carbs can easily cause weight gain, and stored pounds are always more difficult to shed than to add. Get in the habit of sticking to a carb plan that is good for your waistline.
  5. Even if you find record-keeping a bore, create the habit of recording blood sugar checks, the carbs you eat, bolus doses, any correction doses and exercise (type and amount). Looking over these records will reveal patterns that you can use to adjust pump settings and improve glucose control.
  6. Get in the habit of always using the same forms to keep your records so they are consistent, making patterns easier to spot. You can make your own forms or use those provided by your diabetes care team or the insulin pump manufacturer. Whether paper or digital, daily record keeping is recommended, though some individuals find that recording on two weekdays plus one weekend day is sufficient.

“Habits are safer than rules; you don’t have to watch them. And you don’t have to keep them, either. They keep you.” ~ Frank Crane

Source: Diabetes.org
Photo credit: Alden Chacwick

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