Pump Therapy to the Rescue for Type 2 Diabetes?

Andrew Stivelman finds out first-hand that insulin pump isn’t just for people with Type 1 diabetes.



When I first learned that I had Type 2 diabetes in 2001, I thought my world had come crumbling down right before my eyes. I’d been eating delicious things all my life and couldn’t bear the thought of having to do without. Having grown up in a household where diabetes runs in the family, all I could picture for the future was having to test my urine, take frequent naps, and dodge the complications that can arise from the disease.

My outlook improved when I started on metformin. With the help of that drug, and the counseling I received from my doctors and nutritionist, I was able to control my blood sugar for years. My A1c levels were always in the acceptable range of between 6.0 and 7.0. Things felt under control.

In 2011, the metformin stopped being effective. After discussions with my endocrinologist, I decided to start on insulin, but even that didn’t solve the problem. Although my progress was closely monitored and my doses adjusted according to my results, I was finding my blood sugar control was still not optimal and my A1c levels were higher than desired.

So why wasn’t insulin helping me as much as I thought it would? After all, I was adjusting the dosage units based on what I was eating. I followed recommendations from my nutritionist as often as possible. Had I lulled myself into a false sense of security and subconsciously “decided” that I could still eat as I had prior to 2001, because the insulin would fix any ill effects on my blood sugar? That most likely was part of the problem, but diabetes is different for everyone, and it was proving especially difficult for me.

Then, in early 2012, I had the good fortune of being selected to participate in a one-year clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of insulin pump therapy for Type 2 diabetics. Here was my chance to move off of multiple daily injections and try what worked for Type 1 diabetics for so many years. I began the clinical trial in March 2012 with an HbA1c of 8.3; my goal was to get below 7.0.

The pump quickly became an integral part of my daily life. The little inconveniences I experienced of having it attached to me were nothing in comparison to having to take multiple painful injections. I also rarely experienced hypoglycemia. Within a few weeks of the study, I began to feel more energetic and more relaxed about my condition.

By the time the study ended one year later, my HbA1c was 6.3. I am happy to report that pump therapy has made the difference in bringing my A1c levels under control. There are no free tickets, but the combination of pump therapy and healthy eating means I feel better and I can enjoy my life!

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Andrew Stivelman, a T2 diabetic since 2001, was born in The Netherlands, grew up in NYC and now lives in Toronto. Andrew works as a technical writer for a software company and is passionate about diabetes care, red wine, dark chocolate, strong coffee, and social media. He can be reached on Twitter at @diabeartes