Monday, September 13, 2010

Insulin Shots vs. pump - which is better?

I've got a handy little tool that helps me decipher how people end up here. Historically, most first time visitors find their way here by 'googling' insulin pump review, or some variation thereof. However, lately many have found ipump by searching for opinions on 'what is better, insulin shots (aka injection therapy) or the insulin pump'.

Now for me, circa all the years I had diabetes, and BEFORE the pump I would have vehemently told you, "shots!!" The pump seemed like the scariest, dorkiest, most cumbersome and embarrassing piece of gear ever. If I would've had a blog at that time, surely it would have been titled, "i'llNEVERpump" or more accurately, "iAMstubbornANDrefuseTOevenCONSIDERthePUMP"

As mentioned in prior posts, I have even said aloud, "I'd rather take 20 shots a day that be on the pump.." Really, thinking back now, that might quite possibly be the dumbest thing I have ever said - but at the time it was logical and clever.

For goodness sake, that's akin to saying, "I refuse to get in those new-fangled steel contraptions...I'm perfectly happy going any where I need to go on horse back!"

Sure, if you live in the desert (or the year 1900) that's fine. But most of us live in places where there are highways with a lot of dangerous obstacles, so we NEED to have the latest, most efficient methods of transportation.

And that my friends is just like how it is being on the pump. Continuing on shots seems perfectly logical to those ON shots, but the percentage of people who make the switch to the pump and RETURN to shots is staggeringly small. Why? Simply because once you use the most effective method, and once you have adjusted to the freedoms it offers, it becomes next-to-impossible to consider returning to any previous routine.

The notion that taking shots is even comparable to the pump is a difficult one now. Taking shots has numerous disadvantages. Namely:

1. Shots can hurt, and often do.

2. A shot routine (a/k/a injection therapy) usually requires at least 3 shots per day. Could be more, much more.

3. Long-acting insulin (e.g. Lantus) is absorbed differently by different people and can also vary in effectiveness by location (site). Translation: your 24-hour insulin could only last 12 hours.

4. You have to take your shots before every meal, worse yet - before everything you eat, every time. Goodbye grazing! Eating 30 minutes AFTER you've just eaten (let's say you're still hungry!) means another shot to cover the new food.

5. Insulin bottles can be lost or broken easily (ceramic floors). The smell is unpleasant to say the least! If nothing else, they can be easily misplaced and difficult to keep track of.

6. Have I mentioned that taking shots 4-6x a day? That's 4-6 pains in the rear (literally).

7 - 1,000,000: etc...

Now, the advantages of shots:


hold on, there has to be something....


Well, at least at the time I thought there was one...

1. You are not connected to anything (also known as 'that unsightly tubing')

The truth is that taking shots is more limiting than being on the pump. Keeping your insulin cool when you go to places like Disney World is a hassle. Here's an irony for you: being on the pump offers more freedom than being on shots! Convenience, quality of life, and ease of use all combine to ensure that the pump offers limitless opportunities for endless fun. (Ok, I'll admit your cool-ness factor may or may not go up, and you won't walk around automatically 'whistling dixie', but you could..and to boot, it would be easier than if you were still taking shots!! :)

Diabetes is like traveling the autobahn. No speed limits, users need to exercise extreme caution when traversing its roadways. The opportunity for disaster is great, so safety is of utmost importance. You wouldn't get on the on-ramp on a horse, even if it was working great for you! Sure a thoroughred is an impressive specimen, but can it compare to a Mercedes-Benz? Of course not.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that each and every person with diabetes should be on the insulin pump. It will affect you in ways you cannot currently consider, but once you experience them you will wonder why it took so long to make the switch.

I was the Apostle Paul (pre-conversion), that despised all things pump-related (as Paul despised Christians). However, now that I've converted I am compelled to tell everyone that the pump is so far greater than insulin shots, there really is no comparison at all.

Make the switch. Today. Call your doctor now. If he/she doesn't believe in the pump, find a different doctor. It's your life, and it's our health. Don't waste another second feeling less than great. Make the switch.

Until next time, keep on pumpin'.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good read.

Just my own 2 cents...I can't imagine a Doctor ever daring to admit that shots are ever an equivalent to a pump. I think given some short sightedness or a lack of understanding, and it's perhaps understandable to imagine that they're both in effect doing the same thing, and to opt for the cheapest for a patient.
I mean maybe if you're borderline type 1 and just moving over to shots then maybe, but otherwise the difference is night and day and something that insurance companies have tried fighting due to it's cost, and have satisfyingly lost.

If you have an unsympathetic doctor. Run to another.

I got my first pump 7 years ago and really had to jump through some hoops to prove my worth to the insurance companies.
Nowadays it's a no-brainer. You just need a doctor to vouch for you and prove you will benefit from it and you're in after a couple of training sessions.
The underlining point here being that you need to prove it will improve your glucose results by having a good solid run of fingertests.
I doubt enormously if there's a single person on shots alone who can't improve their A1C by switching to a pump.

An insulin pump is to diabetes what a gear box is to an engine.
It's a smooth and accessible interface to a situation that doesn't enjoy going at either 0 mph or 100 with no good way of knowing at what point in-between you will speed to.

The low and continuous amounts of insulin also mean you can just unplug the device whenever you want as well. Something you can't do with a huge shot of lantus that is in there for the duration no matter what you're doing.

It's an excellent time to get in on pumping as well due to the same winning fight against having insurance companies admit to the benefits of continuing glucose monitors.
Again, there's some hurdles to leap over before they'll 'allow' this, but it's another giant step in the right direction to a normal and healthy life.
In my case some night time lows were all it took.

Exciting times :)