Bannakaffalatta CYBORG! Or, Reflections on Starting on an Insulin Pump, a More or Less Complete Chronicle of My New Bionic Parts

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In addition to being part zombie, I have officially joined Bannakaffalatta as a member of the growing cyborg community  (they’re getting rights on Sto!): in plain English, I started using my insulin pump on Tuesday.

Getting the pump was a fairly lengthy process. To get started, my endocrinologist gave me referral to meet with an insulin pump trainer. Part of the purpose of this appointment was to give me a chance to ask questions before officially pursuing a pump (I didn’t know enough to have many), but I found out afterwards that the real reason was to give the pump trainer a chance to evaluate me to see if I’d be a good candidate for a pump. I then signed up for two required diabetes education classes and began researching insulin pumps on various diabetes blogs.

After waffling between two brands for some time, I decided on the Animas Ping, a tubed pump with a remote that I can dose my insulin from.  I contacted the pump trainer, who gave my contact information to the local Animas sales rep. The sales rep handled negotiations with my insurance company and called me with my coverage information. A few more weeks of hemming and  hawing followed as my parents and I tried to hammer out the cost difference between injections and the pump, whether the pump would be worth the cost, and how we would pay for it. Obviously, we decided the pump was worth the cost.

Here are my thoughts now that I’ve officially started.

What I Didn’t Expect:

  • How large the box would be: Insulin pumps are roughly the size of a small digital camera or a small but thickish smart phone, so I didn’t expect that my pump would ship in a box as large as I am. Evidently, I neglected to think through the size implications of “three months of pump supplies.” Three months’ worth of plastic spaceships is bulky.
  • Being nervous about starting: My first glimmers of nervousness began when I started researching the pump and I discovered that they don’t work for everyone. What if I invested all the money that a pump requires only to find that pumping doesn’t work for me either? I quickly decided that I wanted to know as much as possible about the pump–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and those feelings subsided. When I went in for my pump training session, however, the nervousness came back. As happens with most things, once I got into the session and actually started doing things with the pump I felt fine. I didn’t expect to feel nervous at all, though; even the pump trainer was a little surprised when I told her.
  • The emotional adjustment of making the switch: In one of the books on type 1 diabetes I read shortly after I was diagnosed, the writer confessed to switching from a pump back to shots because he (she?) didn’t like being attached to the disease. I’ve been looking forward to starting on a pump since the day I was diagnosed, so I thought this attitude was silly. But a couple of days before I officially started on the pump, I started wearing it around so I could get used to the feel of it clipped to my clothes or stashed in my pocket. I was surprised to find that I started feeling mildly resentful of my pump because it was the first visible “symptom” of my diabetes. I’m sure these feelings will remain mild and will fade quickly, but they took me by surprise.

What I Love:

  • Super precise insulin doses: I’m fairly sensitive to insulin, so I couldn’t get near the precision I needed with standard syringes. While I knew that precise dosing was one of the biggest benefits of the pump, I was surprised by how much I love it.
  • Fewer needles: I laughed in the face of my insulin injections–they barely hurt but make other people cringe, a fact that makes me feel manly and tough. But I was gloriously happy on Tuesday when I remembered I didn’t need to take a Lantus shot before bed. No more crawling into bed and realizing just as I’ve fallen asleep that I forgot to take my shot. Again.

It’s only been two days; my pump trainer and I are still trying to figure out the appropriate pump settings for me (even though my total daily insulin dose has been decreased 20%, my sugar is still running on the low end), so I’m sure I will have lots of updates in the near future.

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About Nel

As a graduate education student, I've come to the conclusion that teaching requires an addiction to caffeine. My favorite caffeinated beverages are coffee, tea, and diet Coke. And when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2012, I also came to the conclusion that living requires insulin. I blog about my busy life juggling graduate education courses, a teaching assistantship in my University's English department, and my recent type 1 diabetes diagnosis the The Clumsy Juggler. I do not live in New York City.

2 responses »

  1. I saw a pretty cool article about a Wireless Glucose Meter from Telcare. It syncs to your computer to track all of your readings. It sounds helpful.

    • That sounds cool. Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems (say that three times fast) are neat in general. They track roughly where your blood sugar is throughout the day and alert you if your blood sugar is too low or too high.

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