Using a Smart Pen While on a Pump Break


Early T1D life

I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since I was 13 years old, diagnosed in 2000. For most of my life with T1D, I relied on multiple daily injections (MDI) to administer insulin. Throughout that time, there have been some scary moments.

There was the time I accidentally gave myself 14 units of Humalog instead of Lantus, with no glucagon in the house. With no CGM at the time, I stayed up until 6am drinking sugar water and pricking my finger, afraid of what would happen if I lost consciousness.

There have also been times when I couldn’t remember if I had taken a shot or not, and as such decided to play it safe and ended up going without insulin.

And then of course there have been times where I outright just forgot.

Starting on a pump

In 2018 I started working at Beyond Type 1, and was fortunate to be surrounded by people living with diabetes. I had been reluctant to try a pump because of the tubing and what I perceived to be an inconvenience. I didn’t know until then that there were tubeless pumps, and within 6 months I started on the Omnipod. For the most part, I loved my new pump. I no longer needed to worry about missed doses. I didn’t need to have two different kinds of insulin, since the basal was now a drip, and I could always look back and automatically see how much insulin I had taken.

Taking a break

But it wasn’t all roses. Faulty pump sites occasionally led to high blood sugars, and perhaps most frustratingly, I developed an infection that required antibiotics to treat. I was ready to take a break, but I didn’t want to have to lose some of the technological advances gained from switching to a pump. I wanted to know how much insulin I had taken without having to log it. I wanted to be reminded when it was time to take my insulin and if possible, have suggested bolus amounts. And I also wanted to know how much insulin on board (IOB) I had regardless if I was on a pump or not.

Getting a smart pen

In 2020 I took off my pump and started using the InPen. The InPen showed me my IOB, automatically logged my insulin doses, and even allowed for me to bolus in half-units. Other  advantages were the bolus calculator and the automatic data uploads. There were some slight disadvantages as well, namely that I needed to get separate insulin cartridges, and that the pen only worked with rapid-acting insulin, I would still need to log my Lantus by hand. The InPen was exactly what I needed at the time to feel confident in knowing my insulin doses while getting to take a break from an insulin pump.

I have since gone back to using a pump, and am now using the Omnipod 5, a closed-loop system which connects with my CGM to automatically manage my blood sugar. I am thankful knowing that if and when I ever want to take a pump break again, there will be multiple options of connected pens and management systems for me to choose from.

Educational content related to smart pen technology is made possible with support from Lilly Diabetes, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication. Editorial control rests solely on Beyond Type 1

WRITTEN BY Todd Boudreaux, POSTED 12/31/22, UPDATED 01/02/23

Todd was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been unofficially advocating for T1D ever since. Before joining the team at Beyond Type 1, Todd wrote and produced television shows for Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and Animal Planet. When he’s not in the office, you can usually find him at a baseball game, traveling or hanging out with his dog Copper.