Infusion Sets: The Power of Choice

Choosing an infusion set and insulin pump can be a frustrating and challenging process, especially when you don’t know all the possibilities of what’s out there. Few of us are told that there are over a dozen options. Instead, we are often forced to choose something and make it work rather than find something that works for us.

For me, the initial leap from multiple daily injections to pump therapy seemed overwhelming, and I didn’t think to ask about my options. I wasn’t so much as given a choice of which pump I wanted but pushed in a certain direction. I met with a representative from a pump company and was told that I would just get the supplies directly from the company; I didn’t question any of this. My mind was too full of new information about bolus calculation and temp basals; where and how I got my supplies was the least of my worries.

I was given one choice for an infusion set, the Minimed Silhouette. In hindsight, I think this infusion set is not the best option for a new pumper, as it requires the user to stick a long needle at a right angle into their skin. I will never forget the first time I inserted this by myself; multiple daily injections never looked so good!

I thought in time I would just get use to this, but within a couple weeks I was back at my endocrinologist’s office pleading that there had to be another option. It wasn’t until I made a stink that they suggested another infusion set, the Medtronic Quick-set. With it, I didn’t have to see the needle, there was an inserter, and it went in straight! It seemed like a dream come true, and I was puzzled why I wasn’t offered it in the first place.

Three years later, things were going pretty well with the Quick-set, but not perfect. I sporadically had some issues with infusion sets not sticking, and whenever I would change my site I would always experience high blood sugars. I tried everything: putting my site in 8 hours before I switched, toying with a temporary basal rate change, taking boluses into my old site until the new site got “settled”. Nothing worked. I thought this was normal, that everyone experienced these highs when it was time to change sites. My endocrinologist offered nothing to help.

After 4 years of struggling I met someone who changed all of this for me. She was not a doctor or a specialist, but an extremely knowledge businesswomen who owns a company that specializes in insulin pump supplies. From her, I learned about all the options of infusion sets, and that my pump was the only one on the market that could fit 2 different kinds of reservoirs. These different connections gave me the flexibility to choose an infusion set that worked for me, and I was able to finally find something that didn’t give me site-changing highs anymore.

Knowledge truly is power. We need to be proactive about learning the choices we have in insulin therapy because sometimes the people that help with our diabetes management don’t give us the whole picture. Diabetes is a self-managed disease, and even expert advice will only take us so far. Only we can listen to our bodies and provide ourselves with the right resources we need to live long and healthy lives!

The opinions expressed are the author’s alone. Insulin Nation does not endorse any one infusion set over another.

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Alyssa Tangerine has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 16 years. She is the Digital Marketing Manager at insulinpumps.ca and a blogger. She lives in Burlington, Ontario, and volunteers with her local JDRF chapter.

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