Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pumping Insulin: Thoughts At Three Months.

On Tuesday, I had my first pump clinic appointment since starting back in June. I was going to blog about it, but as I started pumping, I realised I had very little to say. It was a fairly standard appointment, my consultant and DSN are happy with how things are going, and I'm more than happy with where I'm currently at with regard to my diabetes. 

One question I was asked at my appointment, however, was has the transition from MDI (multiple daily injections) to pump been what I expected?

I wasn't really sure how to answer. I feel it's too soon for me to answer that question. I'm still making adjustments to make pump therapy work for me, and "experimenting" with different types of bolus and temporary basal rates (TBR). 

However, there are things I'd wish I'd known, which weren't mentioned before the switch:

Where I stashed my pump for Graduation.
I wish I had known that people would just assume that, because I have the pump, I'm practically cured. So many times, I've heard something along the lines of "so...that's it. You wear that, and it does everything for you..." Not the case. I still have to check my blood sugar and count carbs. I just don't have to do the injection anymore - the pump delivers the insulin instead. 

It takes time to adjust. Don't get me wrong, I was prepared to hate the pump initially, and I did. I missed the comfort of injections, as I knew what I was doing there. But I thought I'd feel a lot more comfortable with it at this point than what I do. However, as I said at the start of this post, I'm still making adjustments and "experimenting" to make insulin pump therapy effective for me.

Not necessarily for everyone, but for me, there's a lot of stuff that comes with pumping insulin that's not prescribed. Cannulas don't always stick, and I hate waste, so I make sure I always have surgical tape in my handbag/diabetes supply shelf. That, and I also find I have marks from where cannulas used to be, so use BioOil (although have been told tea-tree oil is better?) to help them heal just insert a new cannula there. And then, of course, there are the glucose tablets (or other hypo-treatment of choice).   

It's okay to hate it. Now, I am incredibly grateful for my insulin pump, especially knowing how difficult it can be to get approval and funding for them on the NHS, and I am seeing the benefits of it. It's the fact that I need it in the first place that I hate. During my appointment, my consultant asked me if I'd hand the pump back, and I answered very quickly with a definite "NO!" and then I hesitated. "You wouldn't give it back, but you don't want to have to use it either." It wasn't a question that she asked me, it was a statement. A fact. I nodded, not really sure what I was meant to say. "That's okay...feeling like that is 'allowed'. Of course you don't want this. But it's working for you, you're seeing the benefits of it with regard to your health, well being and lifestyle." It's a constant, visible reminder of the fact that my body doesn't produce insulin, but one that, at present, appears to be suiting me better than MDI did. It's something I love and hate, often at the same time.

And, finally, on a lighter note, no one ever mentioned how awkward going to the toilet would be with the pump! Don't drop it/let it fall out of my pocket. Lower jeans/skirt/shorts/pyjama bottoms without pulling at the tubing or just getting tangled up in it in general. I feel it's something they should teach you the moment you're "hooked up", as my first toilet escapade was hilarious! (Housemate: "What took you so long? Actually, no, don't answer that!" Me: "I don't know how to pee with a pump!") Now, my pump tends to hang out in my bra instead of below the waistband, so I avoid getting tangled in tubing and tugging at the cannula site!

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