Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meet my insulin pump ...

I started wearing an insulin pump on Monday evening. It's like a mechanical pancreas that is connected to me most all of the time. Yes, having it attached to me constantly was my biggest hesitation, but less than 48 hours in I'm already seeing why people love this way of managing diabetes.

Diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic more than seven years ago, I have had far more good days than bad days. But it's a chronic condition with so many variable to attempt to balance. And, honestly, this summer was rough. I had lots of unexplained ups and downs. I adjusted insulin doses {with the help of my doctor} and started trying harder to pinpoint problems.

As I learned more about insulin and my body, I decided Lantus, a long-acting insulin that is suppose to maintain blood sugar levels throughout a 24-hour period, was giving me trouble because I took a dose every night. Some days that dose was the right amount. Other days it was too much. I'd go low in the morning and then have my blood sugar spike up in the afternoon.

My doctor encouraged me to think about changing to pump therapy, which uses just fast-acting insulin, like what I've been taking at meal times. Small doses of Humalog are injected throughout the day. The pump allows for various settings that can be tweaked should I require different amounts of insulin in the mornings and afternoons. Before I could only inject full units at time, but the pump can inject fractions of a unit to be more precise.

The pump remembers my carb-to-insulin ratio so when I enter the number of carbohydrates I'm eating it can calculate how much insulin I need. My glucose monitor communicates my blood sugar readings to the pump, which knows the range I'd like to have my blood sugar. Should I need more insulin to bring a high down or less insulin to keep it from going lower, the pump calculates that along with what I need to cover the carbs I'm eating. It's just math, but it's nice to have the equations figured out and information stored on my mechanical pancreas in my jeans pocket.

It's going to be a good friend, I can tell. Perhaps I should give her a name.

It attaches to my abdomen like this. There are different infusion sets, but I chose the Sure-T set for a couple reasons. Unlike the others that use a plastic cannula to deliver insulin, mine uses a small steel needle. It also that extra loop of tubing that I thought would help if the small hands in my life pulled on the tubing. It tugs on the adhesive that doesn't include the needle {left side in picture} rather than pulling directly on the needle site {right side in picture}. And it doesn't require anything extra to inject it, like the other one I was thinking about. I figured the less I had to haul around, the better for the weight of my purse with diapers, wipes, my wallet, sippy cups, snacks, glucose monitor ... and whatever else makes it in for a trip to the grocery store, a weekend away, or a play date with a friend. I guess the one drawback is because it's a needle, I have to change it ever two days, rather than every three days like the other sets.

I can disconnect from the pump for short periods of time to shower or swim. When I do, this is what is left ...

It's waterproof and I don't really even feel it. When I'm ready to resume, I reattach the pump to the part on the left of the above picture. And go on about my life. Diabetes is always going to be part of my life, but I don't want it to define my moods or steal my joy.

So welcome to my life, Izzy the Insulin Pump. I hope you're everything I want you to be.

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