Book Review: Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring

by Leighann on October 2, 2012

The American Diabetes Association asked if I would like to take a look at the recently released title Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A User’s Guide to Effective Diabetes Management by Francine R. Kaufman, MD and Emily Westfall. We’re coming up on our third anniversary of beginning and insulin pump and we started the CGM earlier this year so I am always looking for tips on how to improve our use of these devices to better manage our daughter’s diabetes.

This book was a relatively quick read and it was a relatively easy read, meaning that it wasn’t too medical or dry. In fact Fran’s voice in the book provides a great tone that is professional yet casual, as if you’re seeking guidance from her at her practice.

The cover of the book has the following claims:

  • Learn to optimize bolus and basal settings
  • Succeed in managing exercise, eating, travel, and sick days
  • Understand the role of CGM technology
  • Make your journey with pumps and sensors the best it can be

I agree and disagree with these claims and I’ll tell you why.

I think this book would be a great resource for people exploring the use of an insulin pump. I wish I had read it as we began thinking about a pump a few years ago. It does touch upon all those topics listed on the cover. But I think the book provides more general knowledge than nitty gritty how-to.

I want to note that while the book does say that there are different kinds of pumps (traditional tubed pumps and patch pumps), information about patch pumps is lacking. As a patch pump user I was a little dismayed that each time that the book describes a situation where a traditional pump would have to be disconnected (examples given in the book are some sports, swimming, and being at the beach with sand) it is not mentioned that patch pumps do not have to be disconnected. While talking about activities that require disconnection and that you have to reconnect to give insulin periodically, I think it should have been mentioned again that a benefit of patch pumps is that because you don’t have to disconnect, you are never without your basal insulin.

I’m not saying that patch pumps are the best choice for every family; all of the pumps currently on the market have their pros and cons. But in many of the troubleshooting sections, the authors could have done a better job of saying when an issue isn’t an issue that patch pump users would face.

I would like to add that Dr. Kaufman’s current position is as the “chief medical officer and VP of global clinical, medical, and health affairs for Medtronic diabetes.” Medtronic does not currently have a patch pump on the market. Whether or not her role at Medtronic and their lack of a patch pump influenced her discussion I don’t know. I just think that if I was a prospective pump user trying to decide which pump to use, this book doesn’t fully explain the pros and cons of patch pump technology and one would assume that the issues of traditional pumps also apply to patch pumps. (And of course patch pumps have their own set of issues that traditional pumps might not have. Like I said, there are pros and cons to every pump currently available.)

This criticism is based solely on my perspective as a patch pump user and our family has no experience using a traditional tubed pump.

While CGM’s are part of the title, the majority of the book is devoted to pumps.

Having given you my criticisms I want to tell you where the book does a great job.

The section titled “The Basics” is a good introduction to what diabetes is and how someone with diabetes may incorporate technology into their care routine to improve their management.

(And I just realized that the next section is called “The Nitty-Gritty” and I used that phrase above!)

Chapters on sick days and travel provide lots of useful information. And I think the school chapter is excellent.

Who is this book for?

I don’t think it’s for longtime insulin pump and CGM veterans. While it talks in general terms about determining and adjusting basal rates and ICR’s, for instance, it doesn’t give detailed specifics in how to actually do it. I think there are far better resources out there for that. (Think Like a Pancreas is my go-to book and I while I haven’t read Pumping Insulin, I hear it’s good.)

I think the strength of this book is as an introduction to those considering or just beginning insulin pump use. It explains how a pump works and how it can benefit diabetes management and it touches upon the continuous glucose monitor. I think it’s easy to understand and won’t be overwhelming for someone just beginning the pump path. (I hear Pumping Insulin can be a little overwhelming for beginning pumpers.)

It would also be helpful to help educate caregivers such as grandparents or school nurses who want to learn more about pumps without feeling overwhelmed by technical information.

Purchase Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A User’s Guide to Effective Diabetes Management by Francine R. Kaufman, MD and Emily Westfall from my affiliate Amazon.

You can read more of my book reviews and posts about insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGM).

Links to bookstores are affiliate links and are provided so that you can find the books easily. I personally utilize the public library quite a bit, especially for audiobooks and fiction. I received this title for review consideration. Please read the disclosure statement regarding affiliate links.

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