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To Pump or Not to Pump

Parents and healthcare providers can give you advice, but the decision whether to start insulin pump therapy is up to you. There is no right answer to the question of whether to pump and when to start.

We do know, however, that everyone is uncomfortable at first about starting something new. Our advice is to ask a lot of questions and find out all you can about pumps. At Joslin, we have a process to help determine who is ready for a pump. It’s also helpful to talk to other teens who are using one.

Common Concerns

From our experience, we know there are some typical concerns. One is the idea that something is attached to you all the time. It may take a little bit of time, but most people get used to the pump being on them all the time.

Some teens worry about putting the infusion set on their skin. Most likely, you will get used to this just like you got used to doing injections.Another concern is that a pump announces that you have diabetes. Most of the time, however, teens find that others barely notice their pump or think it is some kind of cell phone. Others find creative ways to wear them: like tucked in a pocket

Some people worry about the pump during sports. The pump can be disconnected during contact sports. It can only be disconnected for up to about 2 hours, so if the sport is longer than 2 hours you may need to reconnect the pump in the middle of the activity.

What Kids and Parents Like About the Pump

What most teens find great about pumps is that they can eat when they want, sleep late in the morning if they want, may not have to interrupt activities to go home and eat, and, of course, don’t have to give themselves so many shots anymore.

The pump can make it easier to fit diabetes care into your schedule rather than schedule your life around your diabetes care. Some teens experience better blood sugar control on the pump and others say that it is easier to give insulin in public with a pump vs. using a syringe or an insulin pen. Even though the pump can make diabetes management more manageable, you will still need to follow many of the same healthy eating and healthy physical activity recommendations your healthcare team has for you.

Joslin's Pump Program

Joslin is home to the largest pump program.  To find out more about the Pediatric Pump Program, click here.

Ask Other Teens

One place to start is our teen discussion board. Your healthcare provider can probably also put you in touch with others using a pump. You didn’t choose diabetes, but you can choose how to manage it.

Related Links

Page last updated: August 19, 2019