I was asked to give a review of the OmniPod® insulin management system for a Facebook group for parents of children with type 1 diabetes. The group is looking to maintain user reviews for each of the pumps available to help those who are trying to choose one for their child. I am honored to be asked, and happy to oblige.
My son, Caleb, is currently 8, was diagnosed shortly before turning 4, and has been using the OmniPod® system for nearly four years.
When we were choosing a pump, the options presented to us were Cozmo, Minimed and Animas. After reviewing each of their features, one did have a stronger appeal than the others, but for the most part I felt that the functionalities of the pumps were all very similar. We just needed to decide which nuances suited our lifestyle and personalities best.
Then a friend told us about a “new” pump – the OmniPod®. The system includes two parts – the handheld PDM (personal diabetes manager) and the insulin pumping Pod. These two devices communicate with each other wirelessly.
The obvious differentiation is its tubelessness. We love that. Though Caleb is always attached to a Pod, he doesn’t have to carry around a larger device on his person.
- Caleb can swim and bathe without insulin disruption. He swims daily and at length during the summer. I don’t have to compensate for missed insulin while he swims. Although not advised, he’s also enjoyed our hot tub with no adverse effects.
- Caleb can play sports without insulin disruption and without worry of damaging an expensive device. At the ripe old age of 8, there is yet to be a sport where the Pod has been a concern beyond sliding into a base every once in a while. Even then, it’s not a big concern.
- He sleeps without worry or even real awareness that he’s wearing a pump.
- I can separate the PDM from him. This is extremely helpful when I’m trying to analyze data, download information, change settings or even just bolus him. As the manager of his diabetes, it’s nice to not have to try to physically keep up with him to work the mechanics.
- I like that the separation lets me take a small burden off of him. If my carrying the PDM gives even the slightest illusion that diabetes is a little less part of “him” while he’s still young, I’m glad to have it.
- To communicate, the Pod and the PDM must be within a couple feet of each other, but it takes less than a second to establish the connection. For example, Caleb checks his blood sugar and administers his bolus at school before lunch in the nurse’s office. Once he hears the “beep beep” that the message of the bolus has been sent, he’s free to go to the cafeteria and leave his PDM with the nurse even while the bolus is still being delivered.
- He has no worries when going to the bathroom.
- The tubelessness allows for some discretion. With a Pod hidden under clothing and the PDM appearing cellphonesque, it doesn’t raise too many eyebrows. Discretion is not a major concern of mine, but as Caleb matures, he may feel differently.
Beyond the remoteness…
- I love, love, love the auto-insertion. I have never inserted any other pump site, so they all may be just as simple, but I love that the whole change process is so easy that Caleb can even do it himself.
- The integrated meter is great. I love the new ZipWick™ strips too – they need very little blood.
- I also have great appreciation for the method of bolus delivery. Bolus’ are delivered somewhat slowly – in .05 increments. So if I made a mistake and delivered a bolus for an overstated amount (like the wrong number of carbs), you have a chance to cancel it before too much is delivered. I find that to be a good safety feature.
- We were able to acquire a backup PDM when the 2nd generation was released at a relatively low cost. Should something ever happen to his current PDM, we will only have to start up a new Pod with the backup PDM. There’s no worry about going to shots while we wait for a PDM replacement. We have yet to need the backup though (knock wood).
- As new generation PDMs are released, upgrading is not an overwhelming financial burden. When the updated Pods are made available, access to them will be as convenient as getting a new shipment of supplies.
There are two things that I think people considering the OmniPod should keep in mind -
- You cannot schedule a zero basal rate. When Caleb first started pumping and had a significant sensitivity to insulin (less than 2U TDD per day), it would have been pretty nifty to be able to program a zero basal at certain times. The smallest basal increment is .05 units and alternating a zero and .05 rate in the wee hours of the morning, for example, would have been nice. We worked around it by setting temporary basal rates of zero and his insulin needs grew rather quickly once he started pumping precluding the need for a zero basal. Nevertheless, I’ve always felt that would be a good improvement.
- The IOB calculation (insulin on board) considers corrections only; it assumes that meal bolus’ are needed for carbs consumed. Because we have never known any differently, this has never been an issue. I am able to compensate easily with a little division by 2 or 4. However, I do appreciate that having the option of including meal bolus’ in the IOB calculation could be very valuable, particularly when you have become accustomed to using such a tool in your diabetes management.
Today the options have changed a little, but overall I still feel that all the major players, including OmniPod®, generally have the same functionality. Each has its specific strengths with their own appeal. The bigger decision may be whether to pump or not. If you’ve decided that pumping is right for you, then it’s just a matter of test driving the various models available to see what bells and whistles you like most.
I believe your mind, heart and perhaps most of all, your gut will steer you correctly. Only you know what’s best for you.
You can read more about our OmniPod® story here.
For an informative post on smaller Pods and DexCom integration, visit DiabetesMine.com.