In researching the benefits of the insulin pump, an understanding of how the pump works is beneficial. When my niece was first diagnosed with diabetes, she did not have a pump. She controlled her blood sugar levels by checking her blood sugar and giving her insulin shots. I vividly remember helping her mother counting how many carbs she ate at one sitting to determine how much insulin to give her. Now that my niece has a pump, she can set the dose of insulin that the pump administers based on what she has eaten.
Insulin can be broken down into two definitions—basal insulin and bolus insulin. Basal insulin is a result of a small amount of insulin delivered continuously day and night to
cover your body’s ‘baseline’ insulin needs. Bolus insulin provides additional insulin delivered on demand to cover meals or snacks, or to help bring down high blood glucose.
The pump that my niece now has is a small, computerized device that constantly delivers basal insulin into the body through a catheter. The catheter is a small plastic tube that is inserted under the skin of the lower abdomen and taped into place. It delivers a continuous flow of insulin which is specific to each pump wearer. This constant delivery keeps the blood sugar in the target range (called the basal rate).
When she eats food, a bolus dose of insulin is programmed into the pump. My niece can measure how much of a bolus she needs by calculating the grams of
carbohydrates consumed. Although an insulin pump is being used, the insulin should still be checked at least four times daily.