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Question:

I am 15 years old and have had diabetes for 5 years. I am really interested in the insulin pump but I need more information. I have a huge problem of frequently going into ketoacidosis. Will this affect my chance? Also, how can I find out if my insurance will pay, and if it does, how do I go about it?

Concerned Teenager
jwsmin@net-master.net

Answer:

Issues you may want to discuss with your own diabetes team to help decide whether the pump is a good choice for you include:

  1. There is a common misunderstanding in people with diabetes that the pump is an artificial pancreas and that if they use the pump they will no longer have to follow a meal plan or test their blood sugar. This is not the case. The pump may provide you with more ways to better match you insulin with your food intake and daily schedule, but it requires frequent blood sugar monitoring and adjusting the dose of insulin to your food and exercise to obtain the best possible control.

  2. You mention that you have frequent ketoacidosis. I suggest you and your Diabetes Team should try to identify why this is occurring. One disadvantage of the pump is a slightly greater chance of ketoacidosis due to mechanical failure of the pump. Do you forget to take your insulin? With the pump, you don't have to remember to bring your insulin and syringes with you if you are going to be away from home, but you do have to remember to give yourself extra insulin through the pump every time you eat a meal.

  3. The pump must be worn 24 hours a day. If you participate in contact sports where you need to disconnect the pump for more than an hour, you may need to take supplemental insulin injections.

There are many articles about pump use in Diabetes Forecast, the magazine for people with diabetes published by the American Diabetes Association. Many hospitals have pump clubs. You could ask specific questions at the CWD Forums.

Every insurance company is different. You may need a "Letter of Medical Necessity" from your physician. You may want to ask your Diabetes Team if they know how to get your insurance company to approve the pump. If they can't help, you or your parents should contact your insurance company directly.

Good luck!

TGL

Original posting 20 May 1996
Updated January 16, 2006

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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