Below are our responses to some of the most frequently asked questions for the cortisol pump. We appreciate your understanding, and if you feel we are missing something, please contact us.
I don’t feel any better on the cortisol pump than I did on pills. What’s the problem?
If your pump rates aren’t programmed properly, the pump isn’t going to make you feel any better than being on oral steroids. The only way to get properly programmed rates is to do serial cortisol testing. If you, or your doctor, are not willing to do serial cortisol testing, you most likely will not have success with the cortisol pump. The pump is hard work, it will take a lot of time and education on your part and your doctor’s in order to get it fine tuned to your individual cortisol needs. Pumping isn’t easy, but done properly, it can significantly increase quality of life for Adrenal Insufficient patients. Please see “How Do I Know If My Basal Rates Are Adequate?” for more information.
I keep getting all of these red, raised, itchy/painful bumps. What are they and how do I fix this?
Please see our troubleshooting section regarding inadequate basal rates and act-o-vials.
Can you show me your basal rates or a typical basal pattern?
This is not information you will find on this website. Every patient’s basal program should be individually titrated based on their own lab testing, metabolism and absorption. For success with the pump, you need a doctor’s help to order and interpret your lab work. Using another person’s basal pattern is frustrating at best, and dangerous at worst. Please see “How Do I Program The Basal Rates?” for more information.
How do I “convince” my doctor to give me a pump?
If you would like to speak with your doctor about starting the cortisol pump, first it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the different models of insulin pumps currently available and how they can be utilized to deliver Solu-Cortef to treat adrenal insufficiency. Make an appointment to discuss the pump with your doctor. Bring research about the cortisol pump with you to the appointment, better yet, send this information to your doctor before the appointment so he or she has time to review it. Please do not try to “convince” your doctor to do anything they are not comfortable doing. Managing pump therapy patients presents unique challenges and will require a lot of learning on both your part, as well as your doctor’s. If your doctor is unwilling or unable to take on this challenge, it would be a mistake to talk them into it anyway. You need a willing and supportive doctor as an ally in order to succeed with utilizing a pump to deliver your Solu-Cortef.
For more information please see the “How do I get a pump?” Section.
Does the pump detect low cortisol? Does it know how much cortisol to give me?
The pump does not detect low cortisol. It does not automatically know how much hydrocortisone to give you. The pump is programmed by your doctor based on lab tests. It delivers the amount your doctor programs on a preset schedule. Please see “How Do I Program The Basal Rates?” for more information.
Does the pump go in your skin?
The pump has an inset that has a tiny tube called a cannula. The cannula is inserted into the subcutaneous (fat) layer under your skin. It sticks with adhesive to your skin. Please see “What Is a Cortisol Pump?” for more information.
How long does the procedure take? How long is recovery?
There is no “procedure” involved in with the cortisol pump. Your doctor may have a pump nurse or educator show you how to insert the cannula the first time, but this is something easy you will be doing yourself at home. Most insets come with automatic inserters, and the process is very easy.
How did YOU get the pump?
Please see our “How Do I Get a Cortisol Pump?” section.
Will you look at my basal rates?
Basal rates and programs are designed for each patient by a doctor, based on their unique lab results. This website is only to provide educational resources, not medical advice. Please see “How Do I Know If My Basal Rates Are Adequate?” for more information.
Please talk to your doctor, and check out the steroid curve plotter.
Who is your doctor?
Not every patient is a good candidate for cortisol pump therapy. You cannot go see a doctor assuming they will give you a pump. We respect each doctor’s professional decision for or against pump therapy based on their evaluation of the patient. Furthermore, not every doctor willing to prescribe a pump knows how to properly program and manage the pump. Getting a pump is only a small part of the battle, knowing how to use it and manage it effectively is a more challenging task. An experienced and supportive doctor is crucial to success with the cortisol pump.