We mentioned at the end of a recent post that a trip to the endo in early January revealed that Emerson’s A1C had increased slightly since her last visit and that it wasn’t due to us allowing her to deviate from her normal diet over the holidays but rather to issues we had with her pump. We didn’t go into any detail in that particular posting because we planned to write this one – which is our review of the OmniPod.
Emerson has been podding since June 13, 2011 – so for 7 ½ months. We felt fortunate to be approved by insurance for a pump just 4 months after her T1D diagnosis, as we had heard that isn’t always the case and they actually denied the request initially. We attended an insulin pump information session put on by Riley Hospital for Children and listened to the pros and cons of many different pumps. We also did our own research but mostly found websites that simply compared the functionality of the pumps, and read blog postings from fellow bloggers and the Children with Diabetes forum. While we didn’t find any real deal-breakers with other pumps, and our pump nurse felt that we couldn’t go wrong with any of them, selecting the OmniPod wasn’t a difficult choice for us.
We loved the fact that it was tube-free and watertight. We assumed that the tubes on the other pumps would have the potential to get caught on things during play. We were sure though that the pods being watertight was a big deal to us. We live just outside of Indianapolis, so our pool activity is limited to a relatively brief timeframe. But during those few months Emerson does love to be in the water and not having to interrupt her insulin delivery while she swims is a big plus. In fact, we took her to the pool several times the first week on her pump to test it out.
This is true for baths as well. While we don’t think it is necessarily a huge risk to stop and restart insulin delivery for short durations, we like the peace of mind of knowing that basal insulin is always flowing, the convenience of not having to remove and replace the pump, and avoiding the additional manual insertions that would come with those additional applications.
That brings us to another significant benefit of the OmniPod – the automatic cannula insertion. After adhering a new pod, the insertion is accomplished by simply pushing a button – no seeing or handling needles. This is all managed through the Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM), the handheld device that wirelessly programs insulin delivery, calculates suggested insulin doses based on the settings and inputs provided, and contains the built in Freestyle blood glucose meter. We think the meter is a significant plus over those that don’t have an integrated meter as it is one less device to carry and it eliminates the potential for errors when transferring the reading from a meter to the pump. We also love that it is a Freestyle meter as the test strips require significantly less blood than other strips, meaning the lancet can be used on a much less invasive setting. In addition, the pods are relatively small and very lightweight in comparison to having to wear an entire pump, and even smaller pods are in the not too distant future according to Insulet. We have heard and read concerns by some parents about the size of the pod, but we do not feel that the pod is too big for Emerson’s small body, and she isn’t bothered by its size.
There are obviously many other features and aspects of the OmniPod that we like, but this is just an overview primarily of those things we believe are unique to this pump.
We believe the OmniPod is the best option for us and expect to be podders for a long time. But we do acknowledge that there are some negatives that, while we see them as minor, we want to explain for the benefit of others that may be preparing to make their own choice. Firstly, the smallest increment of insulin (both basal and bolus) that the pod can deliver is 0.05 units/hr (compared to some others that allow for 0.025 units/hr). We suspect this will be a non-issue for most users and would only affect those receiving very small doses. In our case it has not been a significant issue but we have experienced an occasion or two where going from one increment to the next was almost too big of a change. However, by tweaking the basal rate and the bolus formula we have always been able to manage through this fairly easily. The other drawback that we think others should be fully aware of is the periodic pod failures that do occur. When this occurs you simply contact OmniPod Customer Service, which has always been great to deal with, and they will send out a replacement pod free of charge. While we were obviously worried the first couple of times this occurred, it has become just a minor inconvenience. We do want to point out though that this isn’t always the fault of the device. The pods will fail due to technical issues but more frequently in our case, can simply work less effectively due to issues with the site and/or placement on the body. This is identifiable through suddenly elevated glucose levels that normally remain high until a pod change occurs. This is not something that OmniPod can control or predict and is obviously not a product defect. We were slow to react to this in the beginning but as consistency in Emerson’s blood glucose has increased it has become much easier to detect and mitigate. We cannot explain what specifically drives this and believe that simply being aware that this can occur and flexible enough to address it when it does is a small inconvenience in comparison to the pros of this pump. Static, from things like plastic slides or plastic school chairs can also interfere with the pod and cause it to fail, but this is an intermittent issue and something that can easily be mitigated by tucking a small piece of a dryer sheet in the pod cover or nearby clothing.
We hope anyone that comes across this that is looking for their first pump or is considering switching pumps finds this helpful. We believe that the availability of more thorough reviews that cover both the pros and cons of the different pump options would vastly improve the decision making process for folks. Given that, we invite and encourage others to comment on their pump of choice to give readers the ability to conduct a more in-depth comparison of alternatives. If you have questions on the OmniPod that are not addressed here feel free to let us know and we will certainly be glad to answer them for you.