5 Lessons on starting insulin pump therapy

Medtronic Champion Jaime wearing an insulin pump

Hi everyone! My name is Jaime – I’m a Medtronic employee and I learned quite a few things when I started insulin pump therapy. Allow me to share my top 5 lessons. 

I wanted to take a different approach and look at lessons that maybe aren’t so pump focused and more focused on my journey with my pump.

1. There is a learning curve—so get comfortable with being a beginner again.

I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was three years old and didn’t start on an insulin pump until my early twenties. I had a lot of time, experiences, and knowledge under my belt with taking insulin injections so I figured that starting on an insulin pump would be a breeze for a “diabetes pro” like me. 

How hard could it be? I was wrong. There was a lot to learn and a lot of things that I needed to tweak at first! When I started on my first pump, I had to:

  • Do multiple fingerstick checks throughout the first few days in order to make sure my basal settings were correct
  • Learn how to insert my new infusion set
  • Make sure that I filled up my reservoir correctly with the amount of insulin I needed for the next three days
  • Learn what “bolus” and “basal” meant
  • Navigate the different options in my pump

For the first time in a long time, I was doing something “new” with my diabetes—which was equal parts exciting and scary! I learned to trust myself and…

2. When starting insulin pump therapy, I had to learn to trust my pump.

Jaime with Lenny the Lion

After 18+ years of doing this whole diabetes management thing solo, suddenly I had a teammate. I was used to being the one to make all of my insulin dosing decisions, doing the math calculations in my head, injecting the needle into my skin, and pushing the plunger down to dispense the insulin. I had control. 

Now, I was in a partnership with this device on my waist. We were a team. I would rely on it to help do the complicated math equations. Rely on it to figure out how much insulin I needed to cover my meals or corrections. Trust that it would do what it needed to do to keep me healthy. 

I vividly remember looking at my pump screen multiple times a day during the first few weeks. Was it on? Was it working? Did I put the right information in? Slowly I started to feel more comfortable with my pump until I got to the point where it just became second nature—and the MVP of the team.  

3. Finding a community was so important.

I could not be more grateful to the pumping community who was there to answer the millions of questions I had about my insulin pump. They were there to help with innovative ways to wear my insulin pump when I wore a dress or how to travel internationally with my pump — truly a wealth of information. When I found people that were on a similar path that I was, I learned so much about my new pump, my diabetes, and myself. Soon I was the pro-pumper helping people with their new pumps too!  

4. My pump was only as good at managing my diabetes as I was.

I still had to manage my diabetes, which meant I still had to:

  • Count carbs and correct for lows
  • Manage my diet
  • Get enough exercise
  • Make sure I was taking my supplements
  • Get a good night’s sleep

My pump made managing my diabetes exponentially simpler for me and gave me a freedom I didn’t know existed—but I still had diabetes

I couldn’t take my foot off the gas. I still had a chronic disease that could knock me for a loop. My pump wasn’t a cure—but it was an amazing piece of technology that made the day-to-day management easier.  

5. I don’t care about having a pump attached to me.

Let me unpack this one. One of the biggest disadvantages for starting insulin pump therapy for me was that I didn’t want the visual reminder that I had diabetes clipped to my waist. At that point in my life, I wanted it to remain hidden. I couldn’t do that with a pump attached to me like a billboard announcing to the world “Jaime has diabetes.” 

I was hyper aware of it the first few days I had it on. I thought everyone was staring at me and trying to figure out what that thing was on my waist. Was it a pager? In 2003? 

After a few short weeks with my pump, I didn’t care anymore that I had it attached to me. I didn’t care if people saw it. I didn’t care that people knew I had diabetes. In fact, I was PROUD of it. 

I wanted people to ask me about it so I could share with them the life changing impact it had on me. It didn’t matter that I had an insulin pump attached to me anymore – I loved it. I learned that I could use it as a way to educate and advocate for people just like me. I learned I could use it to find other people with diabetes out in the world. Ultimately, I learned that I only cared about what the insulin pump did for me.   

What surprising thing did you learn about yourself after starting insulin pump therapy? I’d love to hear them—share them with me below!


Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.
Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.
Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory finger stick is required prior to treatment. Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected. Please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/about/safety.html for additional details.

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Submitted by Richard Cropper (not verified) on

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I fully agree with your five lessons! I can't wait for the 780G package to arrive!

Submitted by Heather Pickett (not verified) on

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Those were great hints. One thing I struggled with is where to put my pump in a dress or wearing a bathing suit. It is just hard to feel comfortable. I miss the freedom. But in the meantime I’m figuring it out. Definitely have cut holes in dresses and pockets to make it work!

Submitted by Steve Snook (not verified) on

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Well Jamie us correct about everything she said. I was 10 when diagnosed but was taking only one shot per day. The year was 1955 and not a lot was known about diabetes at the time. It wasn’t until 1980 that I began testing BG with multiple shots a day. I got my first pump in 2000 and am currently looking forward a truly closed loop system. Good luck, Jamie. Steve K. Snook

Submitted by Gail Gaines (not verified) on

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I have type 2 diabetes and using an insulin pump has been a life changing event.
The hardest part is getting a good schedule to keep my sensor calibrated. The first few weeks I was up in the middle of night.
The next adjustment was remembering to bolus BEFORE meals so my sugar wouldn’t spike. The lows have stopped but my body still responds to stress. Exercise and a no carb ( or very low) diet has helped but I still struggle with it.
I would only recommend a pump if you’re completely dedicated and disciplined. I struggle also because I work and taking time to take care of me is not always the priority…work in progress.

Submitted by Warren VanderHill (not verified) on

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Have been “pumping” for around 12 years. Advice from one and all is spot on. Along with the CGMs -especially these!!-has made me more aware of just what my insulin is doing throughout the day. Sure do not miss finger sticks save for periodic checks to make sure all is going well. A1C has been around 6.3.

Submitted by Ted robertson MD (not verified) on

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Just started 780G two months ago and trying to use and trust new pump. Age 85 and finding it hardest is

Please let us know if we can do anything to support you and your new 780G system, Ted!

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