Priming the (Insulin) Pump (Part 4)

If you’ve been following Eric’s blog entries over the past month, you’re ready for Part 4 in his series on his transition to using an insulin pump[1] (if you haven’t followed, and you want to, here are entries 1[2], 2[3], and 3[4]). When he ended Part 3, his Cozmo insulin pump was in the mail. This week, he receives pump and supplies and prepares to attend an hour-long session on how to use his insulin pump.

Mid-July was Christmas in diabetesland for me. The secretary at my office called and said a package had arrived. I wish I had taken some pictures of what was inside, because then I could show you photos of about 12 smaller boxes nestled among the packing peanuts and beneath an invoice listing the unit prices for everything (totaling about $6,000, most of which my insurance covered).

The largest box contained—within its purple, green, and yellow glossy exterior with the jaunty fonts—the pump itself, as well as my new glucose monitor (this attached to the pump, but it was not a continuous glucose monitor[5]). Also in this first box were my “starter”—or practice—infusion sets, along with other necessary pump-loading and infusion-site-preparation materials.

You see, when you use an insulin pump, you use a lot of supplies. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. So in the other boxes-in-a-box were an assortment of items (many of which you can find pictures of on this page[6]): Freestyle blood glucose test strips to go with the new monitor (five boxes); Cleo infusion sets[7] (one box); 3-milliliter insulin[8] cartridges (one box); IV transparent dressings (one box); IV prep antiseptic wipe (one box); a new Freestyle lancet device (one box); and Freestyle lancets (four or five boxes—I can’t remember, because I ended up ignoring the lancets, instead preferring to stick with my Accu-Check Multiclix[9] device).

All told, this was only a one-month supply. After I finished my training with the pump, the pump’s representative told me to contact her for a three-month supply, which was how I would get pump materials in the future. I also needed to go to the pharmacy to pick up vials of insulin, since the insulin lispro (brand name Humalog) and insulin glargine (Lantus) pens I’d been using would no longer be needed.

I had about ten days before I’d actually make the transition from injections to infusing with the pump. Linda (my C.D.E.[10]) encouraged me to play with the pump and get to know all of its bells and whistles. She told me not to worry—the pump wasn’t attached yet, so I really couldn’t screw anything up that couldn’t be undone. It was time to take as many dry runs with the thing as possible. Linda wanted me to know as much as I could about the pump before we went through my first attachment, and I didn’t intend to let her down. I spent several evenings reading through the 100-plus-page owner’s manual as well as going through John Walsh’s book Pumping Insulin, taking notes and writing down questions. I was not going to be caught off guard.

And that’s where I’ll stop for this week’s blog entry. I know, I know—I still haven’t even started wearing the pump. True. But because I had to wait to get the thing, I’m in no rush this time around. Also, I’ve crammed a lot “things” into this week’s entry as I try to share as much as I can about what getting a pump entails. My hope is that, if you are currently not an insulin pumper, I can at least shine a bit of light into what it’s like living with a pump. If some of the materials I mention are unfamiliar to you, don’t feel left out—they soon become second nature.

If you’d like a few more visual aids to accompany this blog entry in addition to the links above, type the keywords “diabetes insulin pump” in a Google Image Search[11], a general Flickr search[12], or YouTube search[13]. I did, and I found some great photographs as well as several detailed videos on YouTube of people demonstrating how they change their insulin pump infusion sites. It’s something I didn’t think to look for when I was contemplating switching to the pump. I wish I had; it would have relieved some of my fear of the unknown.

  1. insulin pump:
  2. 1:
  3. 2:
  4. 3:
  5. continuous glucose monitor:
  6. this page:
  7. Cleo infusion sets:
  8. insulin:
  9. Accu-Check Multiclix:
  10. C.D.E.:
  11. Google Image Search:
  12. Flickr search:
  13. YouTube search:

Source URL:

Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.