The OmniPod Insulin Pump: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

ladybugpodnfriendsA few months ago, my 8-year-old and 11-year-old daughters switched to the OmniPod from the Tslim and the Animas insulin pumps. After a summer of disconnecting from their insulin pumps for swim team, a pump with no tubing was a welcome relief. The major negative aspect of the OmniPod, however, is that it alarms when it’s time to change the pod after 3 days.

The Good: The good, of course, is that there is no tubing. No more priming the tubing, no more air bubbles in the tubing, and no more getting your tubing stuck on kitchen cabinet knobs. Of course, the great thing is that there is now no disconnecting for the shower or for swimming or for gymnastics, so the basal insulin is always being delivered. And with no disconnecting, there is no forgetting to re-connect after those activities. I know I’m not the only one who has bolused into a bookbag.

In addition to the major perk of not having tubing, the OmniPod also gives more choices as to where you can place the pod since you don’t have to worry about how you will feed the tubing through your clothing. This can give the areas most commonly used a much needed break. However, my daughters have mostly used the same areas for the pods, although even an occasional use of a new location is a plus.

Another nice thing about the OmniPod is that the process to change the infusion set is simpler. This means that my daughters can do it themselves more easily and at a younger age. It still hurts though.

Another perk to the OmniPod is that all basal rate changes and temporary basal rate changes are made with the PDM remote device, so there is no more fishing for the Tslim or Animas pumps to make those changes. We rarely used a temp basal with the Animas pump because you could not make that change on the remote device. Now it’s a convenient option again.

The Bad: The OmniPod will alarm when it’s time to change it in 3 days’ time. It doesn’t care if you’re in school, in bed, or at a Broadway show, or in the marching band. That alarm is going off and it will keep going off. Another negative aspect of the OmniPod is that you need to use the PDM remote device to bolus insulin. No more reaching down to the insulin pump to cover for food. Now you have to find the PDM and keep it near you in order to eat anything. After years of not having to do this, the PDM always seems to be upstairs when we’re downstairs. Also it doesn’t have the quick bolus feature like the Tslim does.

And The Ugly: Sometimes the pod will emit a high pitched continuous alarm. After ignoring the alarm to change the pod during a Broadway show and going past the set time to change the pod, the pod itself began a non-stop, ear-piercing alarm. Another time the pod spontaneously began the continuous alarm, so we changed the pod but forgot to realize that we were now off the evening schedule of pod changes. Three days later the pod alarmed in school, and I had to travel to the school with pods for the set change (we didn’t have enough pods to store extra ones at school). Another time a new pod alarmed continuously during the pod changing process (prior to application on the body). Apparently the old pod was too close to the new pod and the new pod alarmed. That meant the new pod could not be used and the insulin in it was wasted. Now we make sure to have 2 pods on hand during a set change in case one alarms and becomes unusable.

Also, many people don’t seem to know that you can send the used pods back to the company for recycling. OmniPod will mail you prepaid packaging to do this if you request it.

My younger daughter has since returned to the Animas, but it’s nice to know that we have a backup pump if needed. We participated in the OmniPod No Tubes Attached program, a program we learned about at the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life Conference in Orlando this past summer.

One more amazing thing about the OmniPod is that you can decorate the pods with colored markers before you use them. My daughters delight in turning their pods into ladybugs, sneakers, and bumblebees, which adds a little joy to an unpleasant process.

Please keep in mind that these opinions are my own.