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Pumping Insulin: How, Why, and When

If you take insulin injections to manage your diabetes, you know how important it is. You also know that taking the right amount at the right time is tricky.

If you are using an insulin pump, you know that you can get even better control over your diabetes. Research studies show that people on pumps have lower A1C levels, fewer hypos, and less variability in their blood sugar than those who use multiple daily injections. A pump provides precise delivery of insulin, more flexibility, and greater convenience. But pumping insulin can be even trickier than injecting it.

Anyone who uses an insulin pump or is considering one needs to read Pumping Insulin by John Walsh and Ruth Roberts. They have just come out with the fifth edition of this key guide. You and I know that when you do something five times you must be awfully good or awfully bad at it. I can’t think of any other book for people with diabetes that has gone through five editions and very few that are this good.

John and Ruth have been at it with this book since 1989, when they came out with the first edition of Pumping Insulin. They are the experts.

John is a Certified Diabetes Educator and is also a physician assistant and diabetes clinical specialist at Advanced Metabolic Care and Research in Escondido, California. Ruth is a medical writer, editor, and educational consultant on intensive self-management. She has been involved in diabetes support groups for more than 20 years and has coauthored several books on diabetes.

Together they manage DiabetesNet.com. I have worked with them since 1995, when I began to write about diabetes.

The new edition of Pumping Insulin now includes a chapter on continuous glucose monitoring systems. Using a CGMS device can help you fine-tune your pump settings. You can use a CGMS or a pump or both at the same time.

Two companies, Medtronic and DexCom, currently offer CGMS devices. Pumps don’t yet use CGMS readings to adjust insulin delivery in a closed loop or artificial pancreas system, but one of the Medtronic devices combines a CGMS and an insulin pump.

In addition to Medtronic, four other companies currently offer insulin pumps. They are Roche DiagnosticsAnimasInsulet, and Sooil. At least three other companies, Tandem Diabetes CareAsante Solutions, and Cellnovo, plan to introduce insulin pumps here.

To make your way through all the choices and tricky considerations with using an insulin pump and/or a CGMS no more comprehensive guide exists than the fifth edition of Pumping Insulin. It is available now for $19.55 from DiabetesNet.com. This 324 page trade paperback is packed full of just the information you will need when you start pumping and it will continue to provide a valuable reference all along the way.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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