Hi Anna (@afrits)!
I have been on 4 different pumps in the last 16 years. Here is my story on each of them (although the first two are no longer available). This will be a long post, so bear with me.
Pump #1 - Medtronic MiniMed 508. when I was a senior in high school, I decided to go on a pump prior to going to college. I didn’t want to be carrying needles around campus and dealing with the hassle of being tied to a clock for my injections. At the time, there were really only two or three pump brands available: Medtronic, Disetronic and another I can’t remember. I chose the Medtronic since most of my T1 friends were on it. Long story short, I had a terrible time with it. In the 4 years I was on the 508, I had to have my actual pump replaced 3 times due to malfunctions. I was so turned off of Medtronic by their product and customer service, that I went off pumping completely and back to shots (lantus and humalog) for a year. Until I met my friend Sarah in my senior year of college, who was on a Deltec Cosmo pump
Pump #2 - Deltec Cosmo pump with CosMore system. Honestly, I loved my Cosmo pump. It was one of the first pumps to have an integrated meter, so I could check my blood glucose with my pump and make correction boluses accordingly. It simplified my life and got me to love pumping again. I was only on the Cosmo for about 2 or 3 years before an old high school friend introduced me to the Insulet OmniPod.
Pump #3 - Insulet OmniPod. When I first saw my friend Caroline with a pump on her back, with NO tubes, I was amazed and immediately said, I need THAT! While I loved my Cosmo and had decent A1cs from it, the tubeless feature of the OmniPod was the main seller for me. I was sick of getting my infusion set tubing caught on door knobs or my pump getting stuck in chairs and I had been having issues with the Cleo infusion sets. So, I went to my doctor and was trained on the OmniPod around 2007 (i think…). The ease of use and how quickly setting up the Pods were was lifechanging. I no longer had to waste insulin with priming my tubing, saving money and valuable insulin. From start of opening the Pod packaging to placing the pod on my body to finish pushing the “start” button on the PDM, my time was freed up by a good two minutes. I had less supplies to carry around since the Pod and reservoir come in 1 contained package. The PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager) handheld device was pretty cool. It also functioned as a meter, so correction boluses were simple. It had a massive food log to easily find carb counts for random food items. The interface was simple enough to learn in a few minutes. I now had 5 sites for infusion sites (arms, abdomen and back) instead of just my abdomen. But the fact that it was tubeless was the main reason I went on it…and stayed on it until 2015. I used the OmniPod for 8 years and had ZERO reservations or complaints about it…until Insulet redesigned it. While the smaller pod was nice, the shorter cannula caused issues with leakage and bad absorption for me. But those weren’t the worst issues. The reason why I dropped the OmniPod system after EIGHT years was because when they redesigned the pods, they must have used a new type of adhesive or glue because i started getting huge, blistery welts on my back pump sites. Due to the shorter, angled cannula, I could no longer use the OmniPod on my abdomen, so i was back to using one site; my arms. When my blood sugars started creeping back up again and the OmniPod started becoming more and more of a daily hassle and full of guess work, I decided I needed a change. I asked many of my pumper friends what they used and my options were seemingly endless now that a new pump company seems to pop up every year. After consulting my endocrinologist (a Medtronic user), multiple friends, and doing my own research, I decided on switching back to a tubed pump, which is what I am on now…
Pump #4 - Animas Vibe. Before I decided to go on the Vibe, I did a LOT of research. Pumping technology had changed a lot since 2007 when I went on the OmniPod, so there was a lot I needed to figure out. I needed to see what features the pump had that I wanted and what features were “added bonuses”. I needed to see what kinds of infusion sets were available. I needed to think about if I was ok with the idea of going back to a tubed pump. I asked my husband, who for the majority of the time we were dating, knew me on a tubeless pump. I wanted to know if it was integrated with a DexCom, since I had been on my sensor the previous 2 years and wanted to stick with it. I wrote out a literal PROs/CONs list for both the Vibe and the OmniPod. The only PRO in the OP side was that it was tubeless. The PROs for the Vibe, for me, included, infusion set OPTIONS (i didn’t have to have just one set, i could pick and choose what i wanted, when i wanted it); DexCom G4 integration; small infusion sets (so lessen the possibility of skin reactions); the option to have slow or “fast” infusions; it came in fun colors and the infusion sets can match your pump color… There were many more on the list, but those were the ones I can remember writing down. After I met with the Animas rep, I made my decision to jump back into the world of tubed pumping and I honestly couldn’t be happier. Within the first 6 weeks of going on the Vibe in the spring of 2015, my Aic dropped from 7.5 to 6.8. I have been on the Vibe now for a little over a year and my A1c has continued to stay under 7, which is a feat I never expected to happen. I have had only one instance in the past year, where I have had to call customer service about a pump issue, and it ended up being an issue with my infusion set. The pump uses pretty expensive AA batteries (Energizer Lithium), but I asked for some for Christmas, so hopefully I will be good for a while on batteries. I originally got both the Inset30 and Inset infusion sets, but I am now only using the Inset, as the straight infusion set works better for me. I love that the infusion sets are essential “self-injecting”. I am a terrible needlephobe, so the inserters are a lifesaver for me. While the Vibe doesn’t have a meter integrated with it, I use my OneTouch Ultra Mini. My only complaint about the Vibe is one most people have and its that the screen is hard to read in bright sunlight.
You mentioned you’re nervous about the needles. As mentioned before, I am a terrible needlephobe, so doing on Dex, was a HUGE decision for me. Since it is a manual insertion, you do have to essentially “learn” what works for you and what doesn’t. You don’t actually see the needle while it is being inserted, which for some, is a good thing. I have found that the slower I insert my sensor, the more it hurts. I know it sounds dramatic, but I’ve found if I push the plunger in really hard and fast, with absolutely no hesitation, I have very little pain during or after insertion. But, it is something I am still getting over…I still hesitate at times and it’s something I need to get over. The Vibe infusion sets on the other hand, are WAAAAAY less painful than the DexCom and LIGHTYEARS less painful than the OmniPod. Maybe its because they’re spring loaded injectors, not manual, but whatever it is, it hurts less.
As for where to wear the pump… I’ve always been a pocket-wearer, even way back when I had my Minimed. I use the clip that comes with the pump and just clip the pump to the outside of my pant’s pocket. If my pants don’t have pockets, then i just clip it in the waistband. I wore the Vibe in my bra one night for a Christmas party and it was super uncomfortable, but i think part of it was because the bra I was wearing didn’t have my “support” for the Vibe to clip to. Some people get these band things that go around their thighs if they’re wearing a dress, and I’ve worn them in the past, but they tend to slip down for me. You just find what’s comfortable and what works best for you.
There are lots of groups on facebook for pumps, and i would suggest asking to be added to one or two. Read through the posts, see what people are using, any issues they have and how they’re dealing with them. Ask questions. If you can get in touch with an Animas representative in person, take advantage of that and ask them any questions you may have.
Best of luck to you!