Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Tips and Tools for Insulin Pump Use

by Jean Betschart Roemer, MSN, MN, CPNP, CDE

“Pumping makes your child feel more like other kids. Not as much fighting over food issues. If they don’t feel like eating, they don’t have to.

“Learn as a family how to use the pump and how it works. Make sure everyone is familiar, so that your child is never on his own to make decisions.”

“Before you actually use the pump, make sure that you are familiar with all aspects of it and know how to change the tubing. Use all the pump features — you have paid for them!”

“Stay with a diabetes educator, nurse, or doctor you like and one who has a lot of pump experience. Do not see several doctors. You build a relationship, and they know and trust your instincts.”

“A pump is great for giving more freedom. If your child wants something to eat, he can usually have it as long as he boluses for it. However, we’ve found that it still works best for our daughter to follow a regular meal schedule.”

“Be careful not to give too much freedom with the diet. There is more flexibility with a pump, but diet is still important.”

“Try to be as exact as possible when counting carbohydrates: Read package labels for portion sizes and carbohydrate amounts, ask fast-food restaurants for nutrition labeling information, or check a carb-counting book or Web site. Whenever possible, measure portion sizes.”

“The pump is not to be used so that a child can eat whatever or whenever he wants. You should maintain a good and healthy diet with regular meals.”

“It is still important to keep good records to see developing patterns.”

“Uploading information has been really interesting. I can see what he is doing and not doing. Then I can step in and help when I see him faltering.”

“My two-and-a-half-year-old does much better with site changes than he did for shots. You can try Emla cream if your doctor will prescribe it for numbing, and that also helped.” Emla cream, a topical anesthetic, should be applied to the skin at the new infusion site about two hours before you change the site for maximum effectiveness.

“We don’t know whether or not it was psychological, but our daughter got much better about the site changes when we sprayed the skin with Bactine before the IV prep. Ice to the area also helped.”

“Our son found that at first he was way overtreating his lows when he started on a pump. We found that he now usually does fine with 3 or 4 glucose tablets or 5 ounces of juice. He doesn’t need to clean out the fridge any more to combat peaking insulin (such as NPH).”

“Pumping still requires time, record-keeping, patience, and diligence. It’s not for the faint of heart.”

“Don’t hesitate to call technical assistance for help if you have a problem or concern. We’ve had to call several times because we thought the pump might not be working right, or we couldn’t remember how to do something. They talked us through it.”

“At first it can feel overwhelming, like diabetes all over again. Don’t be overwhelmed by the pump. Once you master how to use it, it’s worth it!”

“It takes some work, but it is well worth the time.”

If you are considering having your child start insulin pump therapy, do some research first. Read about the features of the various pumps on manufacturers’ Web sites, and request a patient information brochure from pump makers that have them. Some manufacturers also sponsor pump demonstrations and informational sessions in various locales that you may be able to attend. Once you’ve gathered information from the pump companies, speak to your health-care providers, and talk to parents and kids with pumps about their experiences.

Be sure you understand both the potential benefits and possible drawbacks of pump use before making a decision about which way to go. Pump therapy is more likely to be successful if everyone involved — parents, child, and health-care team — supports it. And remember that kids and teens who do best with a pump have a parent who stays involved in a supervisory and supportive way.

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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