Shots vs. Pumps

When becoming diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, a lot of shots are involved. You have to take a fast-acting insulin (Humalog or Novalog) for every meal and sometimes every snack you consume, and you have to take a long-lasting insulin (Lantus) once a day around the same time each day. This can be exhausting and very inconvenient at times. So, when my endocrinologist told me about insulin pumps, I was very intrigued.

I started off just fine with taking shots. It wasn’t much of a hassle, but I was also very anxious when I had to change up my routine. If a friend wanted to go out to dinner with me, I had to make sure I had my insulin pen, and I was home in time to take my long-lasting insulin.

I was a little skeptical about having a pump strapped to me 24/7, but I realized I needed a change when I was in the airplane bathroom on my honeymoon trying to inject myself with my long-lasting insulin (yeah, not fun). This was not how I wanted to live out the rest of my life, at the beck and call of my diabetes. So, I made the change to a pump after about a year undergoing multiple daily injection, or MDI. But before doing so, I did my research.

There’s a lot of give and take when it comes to the type of treatment you want to receive with your insulin injections. Below are my comparisons and experiences of shots verses an insulin pump.

  Pump Shots
Ease of Use There is a learning curve when starting out on an insulin pump. It has a lot to offer and can be a little overwhelming at first. You have to go over tutorial guides and trainings. But, once you figure everything out, you can really start keeping track of your blood sugar levels.There is also no more calculating your carb to insulin ratio. Your pump will automatically calculate the amount of insulin you need based on how many carbs you ate and your blood sugar at that time. Shots are pretty straight forward once you know how many units you need to take per a carb and how much long-lasting insulin you need each day.However, you have to keep your insulin and needles or insulin pen with you wherever you go and make sure you take your long-lasting insulin around the same-time each day.
Price I’m not going to lie, you will start out paying a pretty hefty amount for all your pump essentials (depending on your insurance of course), especially if you decide to get a CGM. But, afterwards, you only have to purchase one type of insulin and you only change out your reservoir and infusion set every 3 days. So, your cost of supplies does even out some, but again, this depends highly on your insurance coverage. The majority of this will depend on your health insurance, but it is less pricy than the pump. You will have to purchase your two (2) types of insulin each month and make sure you are in high supply of syringes. If you decide to use insulin pens, these can be a little pricier.When I was on shots, I used insulin pens for my fast-acting insulin because it was easier to carry around, and I used syringes for my long-lasting insulin, since I only took it once a day.
Amount of Injections Only one new insertion every three (3) days. Five or more times a day depending on your eating habits.
Convenience Pump definitely trumps shots when it comes to convenience. When I’m eating out with friends or want a quick little snack all I need to do is whip out my pump enter the carbs and done. Shots did cause me some grief when it came to eating out. I was a little more hesitant to whip out my insulin pen for a shot at the restaurant. So, I would have to excuse myself and go to the bathroom to take a shot.
General Health I do have to say that not only did my general health improve but also my state-of-mind. I was able to be more accurate in keeping my blood levels under control, especially when I wanted to go workout or eat that piece of cake. I’m still working on getting my CGM to be accurate all the time, but even just knowing a roundabout average of what my blood sugar is gives me piece of mind. It was harder to keep my blood sugar levels under control with shots only. I would get dangerous lows sometimes because my long-lasting insulin, while usually pretty accurate, was not able to adjust to how active I was that day. I also felt blind with shots; therefore, I was constantly checking my blood sugar to make sure everything was under control.


I know my comparisons are a little bias, especially since I use a pump now, but it mainly depends on your lifestyle and how you see yourself treating your diabetes.

Everyone is different.


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