For many reasons, the T1D population associates insulin pumps and CGM with type 1 diabetes, for obvious reasons. But insulin isn’t just necessary for people with T1D – more than 25% of people living with type 2 diabetes, who make up at least 90% of all people with diabetes, also use it to control their blood sugars, often in tandem with other medications.
For this reason, many people with type 2 stand to gain as much as people with type 1 from the increased control, accuracy, and convenience insulin pumps may offer. In this article, one woman shares her experience learning to use a Medtronic insulin pump to help manage her type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Pump Therapy for Those Living with Type 2 Diabetes: Doris’s Story
My name is Doris, and I am a wife, small business owner, volunteer and an Assistant Director at a non-profit agency. I’m always busy, which is why some are surprised that I also live with type 2 diabetes. Managing my diabetes hasn’t always been easy. In reading my story, I hope you can take away some of the lessons that it took me years to learn.
20 years ago, I noticed that I was feeling sick each morning and it was a struggle to get myself together. One morning, I arrived at work and was extremely tired and nauseous. A co-worker took me to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I was in my thirties then. At the time, I was dealing with other health challenges as well. Adding this serious disease to an already full plate was overwhelming to say the least. I knew very little about type 2 diabetes. I thought that diabetes was common and I could handle it, so I wasn’t really too worried. In my naivety, I thought if I just took the medication prescribed for me and avoided sugar, I would be just fine. Boy was I wrong! I learned very quickly that I needed to educate myself about the disease, causes, symptoms, treatments, and find a specialist.
I have been living with type 2 diabetes for over twenty years now. I have had so many changes in my drug therapy regimen, I can’t count. No matter what combination of medications and insulin I took, or changes I made to my diet or exercise, my A1C levels would not stay consistently at or below 7. I have been hospitalized twice due to elevated blood sugar levels. I even sought help from diabetes specialists, but I still wasn’t able to get control of my blood sugar the way I wanted. Throughout the years, I really struggled with always being tired and listless. Some days I couldn’t even make it out of bed. It was a struggle being able to do activities. My family and friends thought I was being lazy or anti-social because I would pass on so many events. They did not understand how I was being affected.
About 4 years ago, I had to change my primary doctor because of insurance coverage. The process of having to find a new doctor was always exasperating to me because I wanted to find someone that was truly solutions-based and took time with their patients. I ended up finding a family practice doctor near my home. I liked the fact that she was always very candid with me about my out of control blood sugar levels, high A1C, and the other medical complications I was dealing with due to type 2 diabetes. She was increasingly concerned as the test results showed that I was heading toward serious complications with my kidneys. One day, I visited her office to review my test results, and we had a serious discussion on what my prognosis looked like. She felt it was important to discuss my options. I began crying because I felt so defeated and helpless. She spoke to me about insulin pump therapy. I knew very little about it. I thought it was only offered to patients that have type 1 diabetes. She gave me some literature and told me to think about it and let her know if I wanted to pursue it further. I went home and discussed it with my husband and other family members. I was depressed about the situation because the quality of my life looked bleak. I did some research on insulin pump therapy but couldn’t find much information about it or how it was used with type 2 diabetes patients. I called my doctor and asked her to give me some more details of what the therapy consisted of. My level of apprehension was pretty high at this point, so she scheduled some time for me to meet with a nurse who specialized in insulin pump therapy.
I spoke to Shelly, a nurse from Medtronic, who was able to give me better insight into what the therapy would involve and how I could benefit from it. Her knowledge about the therapy, the disease, and her willingness to answer what felt like a million of my questions gave me some hope. After that conversation and further research, I knew that I had to try insulin pump therapy. I put my initial skepticism away and without further hesitation, I told my doctor to sign me up.
When my MiniMedTM 630G pump arrived, I met with Shelly for my product training. I initially thought it was complicated. There were too many parts and too many steps for me to get this right! I became nervous, but I knew how important it was for me. I took a deep breath, concentrated, and with Shelly’s guidance, was able to successfully start insulin pump therapy. I still had a lot of questions concerning the pump. Shelly’s number was on speed dial for a while. The more I used the pump, the more my confidence with handling the pump grew. I was so amazed at this technology and how the device could adapt to my changing needs.
After a month of using the pump, my blood tests results came back and I was ecstatic. My A1C level had dropped and I was seeing much better blood sugar levels. I do the happy dance every time I get a blood sugar level under 100.
I have been using the pump for over 3 years, and have had such a positive experience using the pump. I can’t believe the difference it has made in my live. Most notable to me is more energy— I don’t feel tired and sluggish anymore. I’m able to be more active and participate more in daily activities. When it comes to my blood sugar levels, they are more stable now and my A1C level is at 7.1! I could have never imagined that happening before.
I am no longer a home body either. I am always busy, on the go, and wanting to do more. I look at my life 3 years ago and I was facing a totally different scenario. Things that I had put on hold, I am now pursuing. Using the pump has changed my life drastically. I no longer see just dark days ahead of me— I see the chance to live my best life. I get so emotional when I speak about my experience with the pump. It’s motivated me to figure out what I could be doing to help others. I believe in the product so much that I signed up to be an Ambassador for Medtronic, so I can share my journey with others.
As I reflect on my experiences researching and ultimately using the pump, one of my major takeaways is that you must be committed and dedicated to the process. Although I have certainly grown accustomed to using the pump, it was a bit of a struggle for the first few months. Even now, I have to always remember small things like having additional batteries and pump supplies on hand. In addition, I plan my schedule to ensure that I can continuously use the therapy, even when I travel.
Another takeaway is that it’s important to talk with someone that’s living with type 2 diabetes and using insulin pump therapy. Although I received excellent information form the nurse, nothing beats speaking to someone who has firsthand knowledge.
Finally, be proactive and learn about the coverage that your medical insurance provides when it comes to the cost of the pump and the supplies.
Overall, my experience using insulin pump therapy as a diabetes management tool has definitely benefitted me and what I do in my life. Things don’t always happen the way you plan them, but when you have the right information and know where to go to find answers, your possibilities keep growing and for that I am thankful!
The testimonial above relates an account of an individual’s experience with a Medtronic device. The account is genuine, typical and documented. However, this individual’s experience does not provide any indication, guide, warranty or guarantee as to the response or experience other people may have using the device. The experience other individuals have with the device could be different. Experiences can and do vary. Please talk to your doctor about your condition and the risks and benefits of Medtronic devices.