Tuesday, 2 February 2016

You, Me and Insulin Pumps: The Truth

Let's talk about pumps!

When I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes at age 4, there weren't a lot of options for treatment. I needed insulin immediately, so I started taking insulin injections. I take at least 4 injections a day, but as the years have gone by, my body has needed more and more insulin- I'm an addict! As my treatment goals shift, I need to take more injections in order to achieve the best results. Now I'm taking upward of eight injections a day (3 meals a day, basal, snacks and correction doses). 

I'll be honest, I know literally nothing about pumps because I'm nervous. If I realise it's what I want to do, then it's a lot of work and takes up time that I simply do not have. I know pumps can be 'hidden' under clothes and infusion sights are hidden as well as a CGM but what that means in terms of care, I have no idea! Sometimes being so clueless puts me at ease when it comes to new technologies for diabetes; I feerelatively safe in my treatment bubble. My paediatric team have been really supportive and only mentioned a pump when they first started working with them. Since I answered 'no thanks' not a word more has been said by my DSN. 
Medically and practically, I have everything it takes, it's just my own dought that is holding me back. 

Now, I am interested in insulin pumps, I'm constantly itching for something to give me tighter control without poking any more holes in my tired skin. But after taking injections for 14 years - it's no surprise that I am apprehensive about changing my routine. I know that pumps take a lot of input to begin with and take a while to adjust to, however I'm not sure if I want to take the jump.
After becoming more active with the #doc (diabetes online community) via Twitter, I see more and more people using insulin pumps. And I'm no sheep - but it does make me wonder, am I the only one still on injections?! With the answer obviously being no, it has increased my curiosity with pumps so I've spent more and more time thinking about them.

The most accessible thing that I have to do with my diabetes is my medical ID (see image right). My necklace was from H.Samuels and I had it personally engraved with my condition and emergency contact details on the reverse side. I wear it every single day and never take it off. It acts as a safety precaution for me; if I'm out with people who are unaware of my diabetes or on my own, I need to ensure that I am safe. But this is what scares me. A necklace (which can easily be removed) is my biggest 'LOOK AT ME, I HAVE DIABETES' sign. Some days I wear my necklace with absolute pride where other times I want nothing more than to rip it off my neck. So having an insulin pump would be a huge physical indicator of my condition, not only for me but everyone else, which is harder to remove. I'm not sure whether I'm ready for that aspect. 

So what's stopping me?

It's an external device! A thing hanging from a tube on my body. Am I ready for an external symptom of diabetes? Am I willing to give up true nudity in favour of cyborg health? 

Change of routine has always scared me, whether that be school to college, being woken up to setting an alarm or injections to pump. Following on from that, I know having a pump is a constant, it beeps if you have high or low BGL. At least with injections, if I'm having a bad day I can put my insulin and meter away and forget about my diabetes for a while. With a pump, this wouldn't be safe. Would I become too obsessed with my BGL and be super strict to gain control so my bump wouldn't beep at me every 20 minutes? Every now and again I feel myself becoming too uptight with my control and I have to remind myself to slow down (diabetics you'll know what I'm talking about).

What if an insulin pump doesn't work for me or decreases my control? I would have wasted a lot of time preparing and getting to understand exactly what this device can do for my diabetes - as well as previous HBA1C results.

Everyone can see the pump and that scares me. It's not that I'm ashamed to be a diabetic, but I often hide my injections and BG meter when I'm out. Even after all this time, it feels like people are judging me. Obviously having a pump is much more obvious so that worries me.

I do believe that in the future every type one diabetic will have an insulin pump - and I don't want to be left behind. I've always been told that a pump is only right when you feel ready, but I'm unsure if I'll ever feel ready. I guess one day I'll have to take that leap of faith - but for now I'm happy with my normal regime :)

If you've got any tips or have any advice about changing from injections to an insulin pump then I'd love to read them in the comments below. Also, diabetesgeek is so close to 2,000 views now so keep sharing!


Amber xx

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Background Reading;  'Balancing Diabetes: Conversations About Finding Happiness and Living Well' By Kerri Sparling available on:  Online Resource

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