Today, after 39 years of taking shots of insulin, I finally had the courage to start using a pump. It felt like a good day to start a diabetes blog too.
After years of thinking about it, researching, listening to doctors, diabetes educators and friends, and reading about all the different pumps, I was given an Omnipod, (the only tubeless pump) along with boxes of expired “pods” (that you wear on your body and which give you the insulin throughout the day) and so decided to start with this since it’s free and I have it in my hands. I met with my fabulous CDE Michelle yesterday, did the best estimates for what to start my basal dosage, and put on my first pod this morning. (I watched a youtube video of how to do it – I love the internet!) It was unnerving though, left me feeling shaky and like jello, and also near tears.
My whole identity feels like it’s changing with this new way of receiving insulin. It’s something I’ve resisted for decades, hating the idea of being attached to something 24/7, and not wanting to wear another device attached to my body, along with my Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor). I LOVE the information that I get from the CGM, but do not like having plastic parts. For one thing, it doesn’t feel sexy. And yes, that matters.
So, after 7 hours of pumping, how’s it going you wonder? Not very well at first. I finally ate breakfast around 4pm, because it took resetting my basal, and 2 boluses to get my blood sugar down to below 190. I’m still not sure if the basal was just too low, or took a while to kick in, or if this Humalog is from a box of pens that never has worked well, with very slow start times and less effective overall. (I’m using the insulin from pens I have on hand.) I’ll have to give it another day to see the bigger picture. Fortunately, I’d chosen to start on a day I didn’t have clients and could be at home by myself all day, easing into this new world.
And now, it seems to be working ok. I drank my breakfast smoothie, only rose about 30 points, and have been holding steady around 150, so this part is great. It’s a bit weird having this additional thing sticking off my left side, I’ve almost bumped into it a couple times turning corners and sitting back in a chair, and I’m hoping that I can sleep comfortably on this side. And apparently, I stand with my left hand on my hip often! I am only now realizing what a common stance that is for me, now that I can’t put my hand there.
But I keep reminding myself this pod will only last 3 days, not like the 2 week commitment from a CGM placement and how each new sensor placement has a steep learning curve the first few days. I put it on my upper thigh and switch legs each time, so I have to re-learn every couple of weeks which pant leg I need to pull down carefully while using the bathroom!
I am hoping that learning to use the pump will be the equivalent of learning a new language, and I’ll at least get the benefit of exercising my brain in new ways from this whole endeavor. I really don’t have a desire to learn another language, something my mom did a few years ago, to keep your brain young and prevent dementia. Let’s hope this will do the trick instead.
So why now, after 39 years and really good control with shots of insulin? I finally decided to go on the pump because I take such small amounts of insulin, only about 3 units with most meals, and even with a 1/2 unit-dose pen, still couldn’t do the fine-tuning I need for better blood sugar control. My last CDE told me I’m “using a hammer to do the work of a feather”, with shots vs the pump. Hearing that phrase was the first time I seriously considered the benefits for me, and it has stuck with me. I’m willing to see how it feels to have the lighter touch of a feather.
Another reason – I love technology. I am the most excited I’ve been in all these 39 years, about the progress being made to improve our lives with diabetes. I can see that the bionic, or artificial, pancreas is coming, very soon, (more on that later) and I know I want to be ready for that. That’s another reason to start now, getting used to these new tools, and wearing/carrying more diabetes stuff. And if they come up with a stem cell or other cure soon, I’m totally prepared for that too, any day now!
I hope you’ll join me on my journey and connect with me here, with comments, questions, links to your blogs… That is the reason I’m doing this blog – to meet more of the DOC, to share stories, learn from each other and not feel so alone. Thanks for being here!
P.S. My blood sugar is excellent going into dinner, 106! So let’s see what happens tonight…