Poppy's Insulin Pumps since 2006

Poppy's Insulin Pumps since 2006

Poppy's quality of life improved dramatically after she went on the insulin pump in October 2006 and we are still working on improving her control even further.

When Poppy was on injections, if she had blood sugar readings in the teens -  13 and upwards we would be frustrated with this but often powerless to do anything to help - other than give her another injection.  However, injections are such a crude form of insulin delivery that correction doses could send her low.  As she is on a pump, if she is high, we can dial up a few tenths of a unit to correct her blood sugars.  If she wants to eat a magnum ice cream - she can - we just dial up the right amount of insulin for the carbs.  Although, this would be a rare treat as eating a healthy diet most of the time is so important.

Poppy likes the independence that having a pump gives her - as she dials up her own readings - with a little supervision.  She does not want to give it back!  I'm not saying the pump is easy - it involves more blood tests and a big learning curve. Also, carb counting is essential.  However, if you are prepared to put in the effort, it is most definitely worth it.

In 2008 Poppy changed her pump.  It was upgraded to a Medronic 522 which included a continuous monitor.  This further enhanced her life.  We were able to see what was going on throughout the day and night time - in between the normal blood testing times.   The pump is provided by UCLH (University College London Hospital) and Milton Keynes PCT pay for the consumables.  

Given the change to Poppy's life since being on the pump, I am very disappointed that pumps are still not provided to more children with type 1.  NICE guidelines recommend availability of pumps and continuous monitors for all children with erratic blood sugars and reduced quality of life - which probably applies to most!

Every four years Poppy gets a new pump - the warrenty provided by the manufacturer allows for a maximum of four years so she is on her fourth pump now which is the Medtronic 640G.  Each time they get better. This one has a safety feature that predicts if she is going low and cuts out the insulin until her levels move back up.  Sounds great but it is not he artificial pancreas that everyone is waiting for.  It seems to stay suspended for too long so she often goes high later as a result of the insulin being suspended too long.  However it has cut down a great deal on her night time use of lucozade.  

I understand pumps are not for everyone.  You need to be dedicated  - e.g. do blood tests in the middle of the night, get good at carb counting and keep adjusting the settings on the pump.  It may also be the case that your child would not like something attached to them all day.  This is understandable - although from everyone I have spoken to the child and their parents quickly seem to get over that initial source of anxiety.  We had the same apprehension with Poppy.  However, Poppy would never give it back! and neither do the vast majority of children and young people on pumps at UCLH.