Will the pump improve blood sugars?
Most studies find that A1c values (3 month average blood sugars) for people who start pump therapy either stay the same or get a bit better. A lot of effort is needed to set basal rates, monitor blood sugar, and analyze results. People putting the same amount of work into mulpitple daily injections (MDI) of insulin can often get similar results without using an insulin pump.
How do I apply for funding?
The Alberta Insulin Pump Therapy program funds the cost of insulin pumps and pump supplies for Alberta residents with type 1 diabetes who qualify. Please see details at the government of Alberta -
Alberta Insulin Pump Therapy (IPT) Program page and read the summarized information in this module under
Section 9: The Alberta Insulin Pump Therapy Program. One of the requirements is that you complete this online learning module or attend an introduction to insulin pump class in person. A module/class completion questionnaire is also required. The Alberta Insulin Pump Therapy website provides lists of Diabetes Centres offering this class.
Where do I wear the pump?
Pumps can be clipped to a belt or waistband, placed in a pocket or bra, strapped to a pouch on their waist, arm or thigh or worn creatively in other ways.
Can I disconnect the pump?
The pump systems that have tubes can be disconnected for short periods, for example:
- when showering or swimming
- during some sports
- during medical tests like MRIs, x-rays, and CT scans
- when being intimate
The longer you’re disconnected, the higher your blood sugar might climb. The risk for DKA increases if the pump is disconnected for 2 hours or more. Don’t forget to reconnect your pump!
Do I still need to give needles?
Yes. If the pump or infusion set isn’t working properly, you’ll have to give insulin with a syringe or pen.
The infusion set also has a cannula that’s inserted using a needle. The needle is removed after insertion, and the cannula stays under the skin. Most people replace this cannula with a new infusion set every 2 to 3 days (some people may need to change sets every day).
What if the cannula comes out?
You may not know how long the cannula has been out. So, the first thing to do is check your blood sugar. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. You may need to test for ketones and give an insulin injection with a syringe. You’ll need to replace the infusion set, using supplies from your safety kit
Do I have to check my blood sugars?
Yes. You have to check your blood sugar with a glucose meter (e.g., finger poke) before giving meal boluses and correction doses, even when using a continous glucose monitor.
For your safety, the manufacturers of continuous glucose monitors advise that you do a meter reading to verify your blood sugar level before you decide on and deliver a bolus or correction dose. Glucose meter readings are also needed to calibrate continuous glucose sensors.
Do pumps lower sugar automatically?
No. You must decide what boluses to give, even if you use a continous glucose monitor. You must still adjust your pump settings for basal rates, insulin to carbohydrate ratios and insulin-senstivity factors if you see problem glucose patterns.
Can I wear a pump in the shower?
Some insulin pumps with tubing are waterproof. Please check with the manufacturer. However, for convenience, most people disconnect pumps with tubing while showering. Remember to re-connect afterwards! The tubeless system (Pod) is left on while showering.
How do I wear the pump at night?
You can wear the pump in a pyjama or shirt pocket, waist or thigh pouch, or tuck it in a bra. You can also keep it under your pillow or on a nightstand.
Can pumps be worn during exercise?
You can usually wear the pump when exercising. Make sure the pump is secured, so it doesn’t flop around, get banged or have the cannula
If you play a contact sport, think about putting it in a safe spot where it’s less likely to get hit. You might also want to think about disconnecting the pump for a short time (for example, 1 hour). There are ways to replace basal insulin and disconnect for longer periods; make sure you speak with your diabetes educator first.
Can I swim with the insulin pump?
Some pumps are waterproof. Check with the manufacturer if they suggest swimming with the pump on. Otherwise, the pump can be disconnected for a short time (for example, 1 hour). There are ways to replace basal insulin and disconnect for longer periods; make sure you speak with your diabetes educator first.
Can pumps be worn in cold weather?
Yes, if you take precautions. Make sure to protect your pump and don’t let your insulin feeze. Keep the pump inside your jacket, close to your skin.
Will the pump break if dropped?
Pumps are extremely durable. However, if you drop an insulin pump, check it carefully for cracks and watch its functions (and your blood sugars) closely to make sure it's working afterwards. If unsure, call the pump 1-800 number. They may guide you through some software tests by phone.
Do cell phones affect pumps?
Cell phones don’t cause the pump to break down or stop delivering insulin. A cell phone can, in some cases, interfere with the communication between a remote meter and a pump. If this happens, turn off the cell phone or carry it further away from the pump.
Can I travel with an insulin pump?
Yes. Airport security staff in nearly all countries have seen people on an insulin pump. Check your pump manual for instructions when flying with your pump. Pumps can be exposed to metal detectors. Check with the manufacturer about going into a full body scanners. Pumps shouldn’t go through the conveyor belt x-ray machine.
It’s a good idea to ask your doctor or diabetes centre for a travel letter, just in case airport security has questions. Go over your travel plans with your diabetes team to make sure you have enough supplies and enough information about travelling with diabetes and the pump.
For example, pump companies in Canada don’t ship replacement pumps outside of Canada. Make arrangements with the pump company for a loaner pump before leaving Canada and always have a plan for how to replace the pump with injections, if needed.
Check your pump manual for instructions on how to use the wireless meter or continuous glucose meter while in an airplane. Using them is usually not advised.
What about pumps and medical tests?
Take off the pump for all radiologic procedures (x-rays, CT, MRI) except ultrasounds. Disconnect and keep the pump in a safe place. If the procedure is longer than 2 hours, replace basal insulin by injection while off the pump to prevent DKA. Check with the manufacturer if you’re having other tests.
Pumps should be taken off and kept shielded from strong magnetic fields (e.g., MRIs and “free fall” amusement rides).
Is a pump safe near explosive gas?
No! The insulin pump could cause an explosion. If you work with explosive gases, an insulin pump might not be a good choice for you.
Can I wear a pump during surgery?
Alberta Health Services has provincial guidelines for the management of insulin pump therapy in hospital. Your insulin pump may be continued for some short or minor procedures. For some surgeries, you may need to remove your pump and have the insulin replaced through I.V. or injections. After your surgery, your doctor will assess if it's safe for you to resume pump therapy. If yes, you'll be asked to agree to some self-management terms while on pump therapy in the hospital. These will include you:
- providing all pump supplies while in hospital
- providing your insulin pump settings to your healthcare team
- changing the infusion set every 2-3 days
- checking for ketones if over 14 mmol/L
- keeping a daily logbook for the hospital staff
- and other terms
If you expect to be admitted to hospital, please review the
"Patient Agreement to Self-Manage Insulin Pump in Hospital" on pages 11-12 of the document in the link below. Also, complete the
"Insulin Pump Information Sheet" on page 10 ahead of time and bring the completed form to hospital. Please be aware these guidelines are written for healthcare professionals. If you have questions, talk with your healthcare team.