Friday, June 22, 2012

A Look Back on 20 Years of Pumping

Ok, so I know I've been absent from this blog for a long, long time. I haven't disappeared. A lot has changed in my life and I really want to come up with a better blog reflecting that change. Until then I guess I will try writing here.

One of the BIGGEST changes is that I got MARRIED! We got married last month in San Diego surrounded by our friends and family. It was magical and deserves a post of its own.

Until then.... I got to thinking and realized that 20 years ago this month I started pumping. Insulin pumping. Talk about mind being blown!

When I first started pumping I HATED it. I was put in the hospital for about a week so that the doctors could figure out my basal settings. At the time I was the youngest person in San Diego County to be put on a pump. I was 11 years old. They put in what is called a "faucet" that allowed them to draw blood every hour to test my blood sugar. Every ounce of food was measured. There was one afternoon that they allowed my mom to take me to Micheal's to go by a glue gun. I'm sure we were getting things for crafts but I really remember that glue gun. Getting out of the car and walking the parking lot I felt like all eyes were on me. I felt like people were whispering "Oh my god, do you see that girl?! She belongs in the hospital!"

That feeling of awkwardness and feeling like I belonged in a hospital didn't leave me, honestly, until I was probably well into my 20s.

Over the course of the last 20 years I have seen such advances in insulin pumping. One of the most significant, for me at least, is the infusion sets. When I started I had a bent needle. Infections would start immediately. My abdomen was covered in bumps and a lot of the time with pus. Gross, I know. There were times I would feel EVERY SINGLE DROP of insulin going in me. There just weren't a lot of options out there on infusion sets. I used the one I had the least problems with.  I still have the scars. They remind me how far we've come.

Another advance... the pump is so quiet now delivering insulin. I remember sitting in class and it would click each time it delivered my basal. People would look around during tests, "what is that noise?" As a pre-teen/teen it was so embarrassing.

I look at pumps today and think how lucky we are to have them. I used to have to shower with the entire pump on and in a special shower baggie. The days I changed my infusion set were true Free Shower days for me. There were no quick disconnecting, you had to use a special clamp and were still connected to all the tubing and reservoir!

At some point in college I had enough and took a pump vacation. It was good for me. I had freedom physically yet I felt more tethered to diabetes than ever. My control was way worse, thus I felt worse. This time I went back on the pump on my terms. I understood what my doctor and my mom did when they put me on it in the first place. I went back to pumping for me. Not because I was told to.

I haven't gone back. Will I take a break again. Sure. But I know that I will always come back. And now I wear my bright pink pump and don't care if people think I belong in the hospital.

PS Diabetes played nice on my wedding day except my pump that is a story for another post!

When did you start pumping? What were your reasons? Would you take a pump vacation?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Diabetes, Travel & the TSA Part II

 Greetings from Cuernavaca, Mexico!

I am in Mexico helping my mom, aunts and uncle pack up my grandmother's house. It is bittersweet. This trip has been fun but also emotional. Not to mention throwing in a cold, stomach flu and wacky 50% decrease in insulin needs but those are stories for a different day.

My trip out here involved me flying from Dulles to San Diego, being picked up by my aunt and uncle and driving to Tijuana and then flying from Tijuana to Cuernavaca.  So I went through security in two different airports in two different countries. And let's just say two totally different experiences.

Dulles is making full use of the body scan machines. While I was in line one of the TSA agents started chatting with me. I asked him what I should do with my insulin pump. I knew what to do but figured I should ask. He said to just let the person know and I'll have to go through the pat down. FUN. Well he saw which line I got into and went over and told the person I had an insulin pump. So by the time I got to the body scanner they just told me to wait for a female TSA agent.

The actual pat down wasn't terrible but not comfortable either. Each step of the way was explained in detail before anything was ever done. This was nice considering the places they touched. The process is long but only an extra 5-10 minutes depending on how long you have to wait for an available TSA agent.

The agent I had was extremely nice and polite. Her job stinks. As uncomfortable as it was for me I am sure it wasn't comfortable for her either.  I kept reminding myself of this.

Security in Tijuana was a totally different experience. Like majorly different.  No worries about liquids in your carry on or taking your shoes off. I went through the xray machine and the two security guys kept telling me to take my pump off. I explained to them over and over again in spanish that it was not a cell phone as they kept saying but an insulin pump and in fact could not be disconnected. After a few minutes of back and forth they let me through the machine and then when I set it off they just wanded me let me go. No big deal. Just like what security was like in the US prior to 9-11. No getting groped for the second time in one day!

So what advice do I have for you? Hmm. Well,
  • Make sure you pack well (see this post for my packing tips)
  • Go into security with a positive attitude and and open and understanding mindset.
  • Pack your patience. You will need it!
  • If you are considering passing your insulin pump through the xray machine or have any questions regarding how the xray or body scanning equipment will affect your pump or CGM please contact the manufacturer.
I'm getting ready to fly back home so I'll do another post about my experience with security at the Mexico City airport this weekend. I've gone through security there hundreds of times so I'm not expecting anything too different but still I think it would be good to have a write up of what happened and what to expect.

After 2 weeks here I am very ready to go home. I love Mexico and I love Cuernavaca but man, oh man, do I miss being home. Especially since I'll only be home for 10 days before I am back on another plane flying west to San Diego for Christmas. Oh lordy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving today. 
I hope Diabetes plays nice.
This year I'm grateful for Steve. He is just an incredible human being and an even more incredible boyfriend. 

I'm thankful for my family and friends. I just adore my family and friends.
I'm thankful for the DOC. You all have been amazing to me this year.

I am thankful for many more things but I could write a novel for all that I am thankful for.

I'll be traveling all day tomorrow but I'll be back this weekend to reveal where I am and how my experience with TSA went.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diabetes, Travel, & the TSA Part I

Unless you are living under a rock in the United States everyone has heard about the new security procedures travelers in the US are facing: full body scans and more extensive body pat downs.

What does that mean for those of us with diabetes, specifically those of us on insulin pumps and CGMs?

While I am not traveling until Friday (more on that later) I thought I would do a post today on what I normally do going through security. Having been a pumper for 18 years and having lived across the country from my family for 15 years I have lots of experience traveling with an insulin pump. In the last two years I have not traveled as much as I used to but I still do travel.

Going through security stinks especially during this busy holiday season. The lines. The people. The hassle. I like to think of myself as the queen of security efficiency. Two things to remember: 1. Dress efficiently and 2. Pack efficiently.

So Dress Efficiently. You know you are going to have to take your shoes off so try not to wear shoes that are too big of a hassle to take on our off! If you wear a baggy sweater or sweatshirt they are going to make you take it off so wear something underneath. If I'm wearing jewelry I put it into a ziplock baggie in my carry on so I can put it on at the gate and I don't loose anything to the bottomless pit that is my purse. This baggie trick also works well with anything you would have in your pockets like wallets, keys, change ect.  Pretty simple, right?

Ok, so now Pack Efficiently. I make sure that I have one baggie with my insulin and one baggie with my carry-on liquids I'm allowed to take and I put both of them at the top of my bag so it is super easy to pull out and put through the xray machine.

Now here is the tricky part. Over the last few years I've noticed that my Animas Ping pump makes the metal detector you have to walk through alarm. Every. Single. Time. It didn't used to but it always leads to me having to go through secondary (a pat down and them testing the pump for explosives). It was driving me nuts especially since I worked so hard to do everything as efficiently as possible. So I started disconnecting right as I put my bag through the xray machine and connecting before even gathering my things. Max I was disconnected is maybe 3 minutes. This week I read that Animas says the xray machine isnt good for the pump but I've never had a problem. So I will not recommend this to anyone but I will say that I have done it before and not sure I will do it again.

For the sake of everyone's sanity this holiday traveling season please take your stuff as quickly off the xray belt and carry it over the chairs or benches and organize yourself over there instead of at the xray belt. You hold up the security line that way. If people did that and followed my efficient packing/dressing guide the line wouldn't be as bad. 

Now to my previous question, what do these new security measures mean to those of us with diabetes. Here is what I'm planning on doing on Friday when I travel:

1. I'm still going to dress efficiently. I have a long trip ahead of me so I am dressing super comfy and putting my jewelry in a baggie in my purse to be put on at the gate.

2. Packing efficiently is probably even more important then ever. I am also going to make sure all my d supplies are easy to pull out in the off chance they stop me. They never, ever have but just in case.

3. If I have the regular old metal detector I will probably just wear my insulin pump and let the person know I have an insulin pump (if I don't and it alarms they make me walk through the machine again and again so this just speeds up the process). At this point I'll be prepared for secondary.

4. If I have to choose between the full body scan or the extensive pat down I am going to let them know that I have two medical devises (insulin pump and CGM) and no I cannot disconnect. Chances are they'll make me do the extensive pat down. I'm preparing for this as all the airports in the Washington DC area are utilizing the new full body scan machines. Sigh.

This weekend I'll report on how security went.

For now I'm off to start laundry so I can pack and get ready for Thanksgiving. Mmm.

Are any of you traveling this week? What are your "tricks" to help get you through security?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Viva Mexico!

I am missing Mexico like crazy lately. Apparently I have a major case of homesickness for my country of birth. That and yesterday was so gloomy here in DC that all I could think about was being in beautiful Mexico.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest Post: A Mother's Prospective

Today I have a very, very special guest post for you guys: my mom! Not only is she a pretty kick a$$ mom but she is also a true Type 1 Diabetes Warrior.  She has spent the past 22 years fighting for a cure not only for me but also for all of you.  She was the Chair of Research for JDRF as well as just finishing her term  this spring on the Advisory Council for the NIDDK. In all these years I've never really asked her about her perspective of my diagnosis 22 years ago. Without further ado, here is my mom...

 Isn't she gorgeous?

There are certain days that are such memorable days that they remain ingrained in one's brain forever....marriage, birth of a child, etc.  And then there are those that we wish  had not occurred.  The diagnosis of diabetes is one of those such moments.  Everyone that has diabetes remembers when and where they were when they were delivered those terrible words.  But as a parent, there are so many other thoughts as well.  Parental instincts kick in, protecting one's child, wishing they could take the disease instead, fear of the future, longing for the past.

All of this occurred when my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  You try to be strong, try not to let your emotions, your fears show.  But your children know you well and see right through it.  It is such a difficult time.

There is a cliche that says that time is the great healer.... I don't buy it!  But I do know that it softens the blows.  I have always say that when your child is diagnosed with a serious chronic disease you have two choices, you either go into denial or you learn as much as you can about it.  I choose that second option and it has served me well.  In many ways I do understand that it is as well a form of denial.  But that is how I cope.  I became extremely involved with JDRF and spent many, many, many hours volunteering for them.  I do think that my efforts were worthwhile.  But I am extremely sad that even after all these years, we still don't have a cure.  I feel an extreme sense of disappointment and a sadness that I have let my daughter and others down.  I will still work as hard as I can, and I still feel a sense of urgency, but I am sad.

In the mean time, my daughter has kept up her end of the bargain.  She has worked hard to keep herself healthy and she has shown such strength that I never knew she had.  She has been so graceful, loving, understanding of the emotions that "type 3" diabetics have.  Type 3= loved ones of those with diabetes.  I won't say that she has always been this way.  Let it suffice to say that diabetes and the teenage years DO NOT mix.  But I am extremely proud of the young woman she has become.  She would be my friend even if she wasn't my daughter.  I am honored to call her my daughter.

I'm wiping away tears! She is one incredible woman. I know I'm her daughter and extremely biased but she should be your hero for all of her extremely hard work to find us a cure. I know she is my hero. 

Friday, November 12, 2010


This is waiting for me  for dinner tonight. Just what today calls for...yummy Lentil & Spicy Turkey Meatball Soup! Spent the afternoon cooking.

Hope you have a great weekend!