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Choosing the right insulin pen

As a writer I'm obsessed with pens. I drive my kids crazy as I linger in the pen aisle at Staples trying to find the perfect pen. It's got to be the right weight: not too heavy and not too light. It has to write smoothly in black ink and it needs to have a grip so my fingers don't slide. So even though I wear a pump, I can imagine how hard it must be for you to find the perfect insulin pen.

If you're looking for a user-friendly pen, Abi Collingwood says the pre-filled Lantus and NovoRapid pens are a great choice. "There's no wastage with pre-fills unlike some of the pens that require vials or cartridges. If you dial too high a dosage, you just turn the dial back down. With the cartridge pens you very often can't lower the dosage and then have to waste a lot of insulin by squirting the dialed dosage out. They are also easy to store and quite inconspicuous looking. If you go out for a meal, it's easy to get the pen discreetly out of your bag and inject yourself. The needles are also easy to attach."

Aifric Walsh has been using pens for years and says you can actually dial back on a cartridge pen. "Just pull the cartridge away from the dialing section and turn it back. Also, there's a lot less waste with the cartridge pens; you only get rid of the cartridge. As these are glass, they're also recyclable. I only use refillable ones when traveling, as they are a lot more robust and easier to explain through international airports."

Selecting the right insulin pen

Whether it's a reusable or disposable, NovoRapid or a Lantus pen, it's important to consider the pros and cons before making your choice.

Tips: Debbie Blair Brooks says there are no cons when it comes to her Lantus pen, but just for the sake of argument, here is her list of pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Accuracy
  • Convenience
  • Ease of use
  • Variety of needle sizes for less pain

Cons:

  • Cost (depends on insurance coverage)
  • Slow release
  • Can't mix different types of insulin
  • Not all insulin types are available for use in insulin pen cartridges
  • Waste (One to two units of insulin are lost when the pen is primed before each injection, and there is usually some insulin left in the pen or cartridge when they are used up.)

For those who are just starting insulin, there's something less scary about using something called a pen instead of a syringe. These life-saving devices look like my favorite pens from Staples, and there's something to be said about appearance, especially when it comes to medical supplies.

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About Amy Stockwell Mercer

Amy Stockwell Mercer is a freelance writer who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 26 years.

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