Three Reasons Why Insulin Injections are Working for Me
It's been nearly a month since I took off my pump and as of now, I don't expect to put it back on anytime soon. Here are some of the positive things I've encountered since making the switch:
1. Eating Healthier and Less
One of the commonly cited advantages of pumping is that you can "eat what you want." In choosing not to pump, I've embraced the restrictions on what I regularly eat. This means I'm eating meals with fewer carbohydrates and mostly consuming unprocessed, natural foods. So, I choose salads at restaurants and make most of our meals at home, focusing on protein, veggies, and low GI grains like quinoa.
I'm also eating less because fewer items are bolus-worthy. If my blood sugar is in a good range and stable, I won't grab a chocolate from my coworker's desk because it would be silly to give an injection that small. Similarly, since injections are difficult to gauge (no pun intended!) in increments other than whole units, I have to consider my carbohydrate counts more carefully. What I tend to do is make the portion size smaller so that I can bolus accurately with say 2 units of insulin for lunch instead of 3 units. Again, this is helping me eat lower carb meals.
2. More Stable Blood Sugars
This experience can't completely be attributed to switching to MDI, but they're linked. When I used a pump, it was easy to eat smaller meals throughout the day and give multiple meal boluses. The thing was, I'd end up stacking insulin and have to consider a lot of variables when giving a bolus. Now, I'm eating three meals a day and snacking on items with little to no carbohydrate: almonds, cheese sticks, etc. Therefore, I typically only give 3 meals boluses a day (sometimes less if one meal has little to no carbohydrate). The result: long periods of stable blood sugars without active fast-acting insulin in my system.
3. Faster Onset of Insulin Activity
Insulin delivered via an injection simply starts working faster than through a pump. This is my experience and validated by my endocrinologist. Therefore, when I do want to indulge in something that typically spikes blood sugar, I can more efficiently cover the spike with an injection. I tested this theory just this morning. My office was bringing in bagels so I planned to eat one for breakfast. My blood sugar was 137 mg/dl with a little active insulin due to a small bolus to cover dawn phenomenon, prior to the meal bolus. I gave myself 5 units of insulin, figuring about 75 grams of carb between my coffee creamer and the bagel. At 1 ½ hours postprandial, my blood sugar was 134 mg/dl; another 1 ½ later it was down to 114 mg/dl.
Another plus is since the insulin activity onset is faster with injections so I'm able to bolus right before eating more effectively. As a busy mom, sometimes it's difficult to know how many carbs I'm actually going to eat- Sienna might decide she wants half of my banana or one of the kids will suddenly need me and my meal will be delayed. By not having to bolus several minutes before eating, I can avoid lows and a lot of unnecessary frustration.