Omnipod: Your Questions, My Thoughts

I have been on the Omnipod insulin pump for three months, and the question I get the most is “Do you still like it?” The answer? Yep! I still do!

But I get questions about Omnipod and I also see a lot of questions posted on Twitter and Facebook communities that I’m a part of that I thought I would answer directly here on my blog. If you’re thinking about switching pumps or fully committed to the one you’re on but just want to know more about my experience with the Omnipod, I hope this series of questions will help!

Is it comfortable to wear?

Probably my biggest concern — and the concern of others — is whether or not the Omnipod is comfortable to wear. Because it’s directly on the skin, as opposed to clipped to an article of clothing, it can look a little disconcerting. The Omnipod is also a lot bigger than your average pump set, although the new pods are not as big as a pump.

The Omnipod is about as comfortable as you can get. Obviously, with either tubing or a pod, you’re going to have some coming out of you that can get tugged, pulled, smacked, whatever. Diabetes medical devices are not the epitome of comfort or style. That being said, I rarely have an issue with where I place my pod. I have worn it on my lovehandles, my lower back, my thigh and my arm. My preference is my lower back. Out of sight, out of mind. Lovehandles don’t hurt at all, but you can see it more readily. You can barely see the pod on my thigh or my arm, but I feel it a bit more. The pod’s adhesive tugs a wee bit on my arm, and since I have muscular legs, I don’t really like have anything sitting there (I also don’t like my CGM there either).

What about tight-fitting clothes?

Yikes. You’re asking the wrong gal. I don’t wear tight-fitting clothes because I don’t have that kind of body. I would imagine that wearing the pump on your lower back would solve that problem, because the pod really won’t be see by anyone. Someone would really have to be looking hard at your backside!

I also like that I don’t have to physically bolus from the pump. The closest tubed pump that does this is the Animas, and that was my runner-up pump. But I prefer the Omnipod interface on the PDM more than the Animas pump, which was part of the deciding factor.

Don’t you hate carrying around an extra device?

I keep hearing this “extra device” business but there really isn’t one, because I don’t have a glucose meter anymore. I have the pod that’s on me, and the PDM that acts as the pump controller and my meter. Two things, just like tubed pumpers. The only thing is that you can still eat without having a meter, should you leave it at home. That’s definitely a con. I wish you could bolus from the pump in an emergency. That being said, you still get basal insulin when you are without your PDM.

However, I feel it necessary to mention that I have left my tubed insulin pump at home no fewer than five times in the 10+ years I was on Medtronic. I’ve also left the house with hardly any insulin in my pump on more than a few occasions. It can and does happen to people. Don’t think you’re immune to forgetting your pump and/or insulin just because you’re wearing a tubed pump.

Does it suck that you have to change the pod every 3 days?

Not really, because by the 3rd day, the pod is empty! An Omnipod only holds 200 units, and I go through that in about 2.5 days. Sometimes if I’m doing really great and not eating too many carbs, I can go all 72 hours before I have to change my pod. Plus, when the pod expires you actually have another 8 hours to change your pod. It doesn’t just deactivate. It gives you some buffer time. I have never wasted more than 5 or 10 units per pod.

Changing the pod is also pretty quick and easy, so I don’t mind doing it every couple days. If anything, I’m sure it helps keep my skin from scarring from all the rotating!

Aren’t you bummed that Omnipod isn’t working with Dexcom?

Yes. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that was tragic, but I’m trying to not focus on that right now. I love Dexcom and I really like the Omnipod. Right now, none of the approved pumps are connected to Dexcom and I have made it a rule never to make a decision based on technology that might eventually happen someday. I guess I’ve just been burned by Medtronic too many times. When it’s approved, then I’ll believe it. I don’t necessarily think I’ll be on Omnipod forever. At this point, unless I went with Medtronic, all the pumps and CGMs are separate. I didn’t feel that any of those pumps + Dexcom together were better than Omnipod and Dexcom separate. I don’t really think having them separate is really that big of a deal.

The way I see it, you can have a pod, a PDM and a Dexcom or a pump set, an integrated pump and a meter. But it’s still three pieces to the puzzle.

How is the failure rate compared to the tubed pumps?

This is a great question, and I wish I had hard data to back up my answer. I have had four pod failures in as many months, whereas I only had four pump failures in twelve years. That being said, a pod failure is not the same as a pump failure. Pump failures put you out of commission for a day, maybe two. With a pod, you can easily fix it by putting on a new pod. Sometimes you can even salvage the insulin.

I’m not sure how occlusions and bad sets compare to pod failures, because bad sets are so much harder to track. I imagine that bad sets happen pretty often though, but as many people note, you rarely lose insulin when you have a bad set. I do wish there was some kind of retrieval system for insulin in a pod. Using the syringe to suck the insulin out of the pod sometimes works, but more often than not, a lot of insulin is stuck inside.

 

Have a question I didn’t answer? Leave it in the comments!