Ditching the Insulin Pump for Better Blood Sugar Management (Part 3)

Continuing from where the previous article left off, where I boldly test out life without my insulin pump. 

I thought I’d write a quick post on how the transition from the insulin pump back to needles and syringes was unfolding. The pump is now history. I’m managing all my insulin needs (meal boluses, basal and coverage) with syringes.

I thought because it was my dharma to go down this path that it would have been a bit more smoother. I’d hoped discarding the pump would produce wonderful blood sugar levels.

Unfortunately, the bumpy blood sugar ride continues. I feel I’m on one of those wooden roller coasters from the 70s. It makes me feel a little disheartened at times and John has to boost me up.

Warm Weather, Cold Weather, High Blood Sugar, Low Blood Sugar

Part of the problem is that I’m transitioning from the pump to needles during some crazy weather patterns. We get these cold spells (which raises my insulin requirements) followed by a couple hot days (which means I need less insulin). It’s driving me crazy.

The Dialysis Effect on Long-Acting Insulin

On top of that, I’ve unmasked the blood sugar problems dialysis causes. The treatment cleans away the long-acting insulin (sort of like the dawn phenomenon). To compensate, half way through my treatment I inject 4 units of Levemir.

I’m probably going to be upping that to 5 units. After dialysis, even with an extra 4 units of Levemir, I leave the clinic at 7 mmol/l ( 126 mg/dl) and continue to climb as high as 12.4 mmol/l (223 mg/dl) — and that’s with a correction before dinner.

Long-Acting Insulin Four Times a Day

But, even on non-dialysis days, I’m taking Levemir in the afternoon.

All-in-all, I’m taking four injections of Levemir. Taking larger doses, less often, just makes my blood sugar crash. I take 4 units at 9pm. And then again at 1am. And then again at 6am. And then at 3pm.

When the weather warms up again I’ll scale back from 4 units to to 3 or 3.5 units.

Even Zero-Carb Fat Puts My Blood Sugar Up


The other important point is that even measly fat puts my blood sugar up. I can’t even get away with what most diabetics can. An extra tablespoon of ghee or coconut butter or fermented sour cream all cause a rise in my blood sugar. Nothing is free. My karma must be worked out somehow.

Too Many Variables

A bad day to be writing this post. Most of the time I like the nitty gritty and empowerment of experimenting. Today I just don’t like the unpredictability of  it all.

In between the lows and highs, however, I do enjoy periods of grace ranging 4.7 mmol/l(84 mg/dl) to 6.0 mmol/l ( 108 mg/dl).  But I roller coast up and down with so many variables.

In an effort to stabilize blood sugars, I even cut two cups of vegetables out from my diet. This had almost zero noticeable effect. My blood sugars just aren’t remaining stable.

We even decided to go back to using a blood sugar target of 5.5 mmol/l (99mg/dl). I was having lows like no tomorrow. We decided to just let my gastroparesis heal, then return to a blood sugar target of 4.7 mmol/l (83 mg/dl).

Dear Insulin Pump, It Wasn’t You, It Was Me

On the whole, blood sugar management hasn’t improved or gotten worse since ditching the insulin pump.

Well, that’s not all true. When the pump worked, it seemed to do the job. But when it failed, it failed bad. It was always very unreliable come the third day. Either the insulin would spoil or the site would clog.

There definitely wasn’t any big benefit to the pump in managing blood sugar (outside of dialysis). And, personally, I prefer life without the machine connected to my body.

But it does not appear as if merely removing the pump had any miraculous affects on my blood sugar management. At best, it was a small step in the right direction — not the giant leap I was hoping for.

About the Author: John C. A. Manley researches and writes about alternative treatments for type-1 diabetes and its many complications. His wife, Nicole, of 15 years has had type-1 diabetes for four decades. Together they have lowered her HgbA1c below 5.5%, regained thyroid function, increased kidney function and reversed gastroparesis. Read more about their journey out of the T1D matrix or subscribe to their Diabetic Dharma blog..