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    ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE BEEN AFRAID TO ASK!

We work with pharmacies to make sure you have all the information you need to make knowledgeable choices when it comes to insulin pump therapy. Here's a list of commonly asked questions to help with your decisions.

Who can use an insulin pump?

Anyone using multiple daily injections (MDI) of insulin or is being asked to move to MDI.

Who can’t use insulin pump?

People who don't have diabetes – lucky them!

Do I need surgery to use a pump? Is it implanted?

No and no.

What is an insulin pump?

It’s a small, computerized device that delivers fast-acting insulin 24 hours a day through an infusion site that penetrates your skin with a tiny Teflon® or steel tube called a cannula.

Are there different types of pumps?

There are two types of pumps. A line pump, the size of a small cell phone, is typically worn on a belt and uses a thin tube to deliver insulin to an infusion site. A disposable patch pump, about the size of an egg sliced down the middle, is attached to the skin with an adhesive pad and delivers insulin directly into the body.

How many types of pumps are sold in Canada?

There are four different pumps made by four manufacturers:

  • ACCU-CHEK® Spirit Combo (line pump)
  • Animas OneTouch® Ping® and Vibe® (line pumps)
  • Medtronic MiniMed® Paradigm® Veo™ (line pump)
  • Insulet OmniPod® (patch pump)

How does a pump work?

  • The pump holds a small reservoir with a three- to six-day supply of fast-acting insulin. It continuously pushes insulin out of the reservoir to an infusion site that penetrates your skin with a tiny Teflon® or steel tube called a cannula.
  • The cannula is inserted under your skin with a small introducer needle.
  • The infusion site is held in place with a small adhesive pad.

What supplies does a pump use?

The main supplies are:

  • An insulin reservoir (also called a cartridge) that’s generally replaced every three days
  • An infusion set (tubing, cannula, introducer needle, adhesive pad and sometimes an inserter) that’s usually replaced every three days
  • A battery (AA or AAA
  • Insulin

Where do I buy pump supplies?

At your local pharmacy, where you buy insulin and diabetes medications. There’s no dispensing fee on pump supplies.

Can I disconnect a pump?

Yes, for short periods of time when showering, dressing, swimming, etc.

How do I wear a pump?

Many people wear it on their belt, like a cell phone. You can also keep it in your pocket or attach it to your bra. Another option is to put it in a case that can be strapped to various parts of your body.

How do I sleep with a pump?

This is probably the easiest thing to get used to when starting to use a pump! Most people place it under their pillow or on the mattress beside them. There are also accessories you can use.

Is there a pump that works without having to be attached to me with tubing?

Yes, it’s a patch pump. There’s currently one available in Canada called the OmniPod®, manufactured by Insulet. It works like a line pump except there’s no tubing. The entire pump is disposable and usually replaced every three days. It’s held onto your skin by an adhesive pad and controlled by a small remote device. Even though it doesn’t require an infusion set, it tends to be more expensive than a line pump on a monthly usage basis. It also comes with only a Teflon® cannula.

Do pumps ever break down?

Rarely, but it can happen. When this occurs, your pump’s manufacturer will usually replace it within hours or a day. During this time you may have to temporarily go back to insulin injections.

How long do pumps last?

Their warranty periods are usually four to five years, but many continue to work well after their warranty has expired.

Does a pump work automatically?

Yes and no. Once a pump is programmed with the appropriate amount of insulin to deliver to your body, you still have to tell it when and how much you're eating, and if your blood glucose is too high or too low.

Will a pump monitor my blood glucose level?

No, but if you tell the pump what your blood glucose level is then it can automatically calculate the correct amount of insulin required to bring your glucose back to normal range. Alternatively, there are continuous glucose monitoring systems. They continuously measure your glucose with a tiny sensor inserted under the skin, which sends data to your pump or a small wireless monitor. Used to detect trends and patterns in glucose levels, they do not eliminate finger prick testing needed for the most current glucose readings.

How much do pumps cost and how can I get one?

Pumps cost between $6,500 and $7,500 in Canada. They can only be purchased directly from a pump manufacturer. Most provinces and territories provide financial assistance for pumps and pump supplies, as do many private insurance plans.

How do I start using a pump?

If you’re paying out-of-pocket, a pump manufacturer will have a pump delivered to you in a matter of days and provide training through a healthcare professional or diabetes education centre in your community. But if you’re relying on public or private health insurance, the process often takes a few months and sometimes much longer. In this case, your doctor must confirm you meet the criteria to use a pump. You’ll also need a prescription and pump training from a diabetes educator or clinic. After that, you’ll receive a list of pumps sold in Canada. The pump manufacturer will help process your insurance funding.

Many pump users see their pump as a turning point in diabetes care. Many say: “For the first time in years I can eat when I want to,” or “I can really control my blood sugar now and I feel better too.”
Source: Pumping Insulin, Walsh and Roberts