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?


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  3. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to have to get the pump that young. This is why I tell my patients (who can all control their diabetes) that they need to practice healthy living with diabetes. I hope yours gets better!

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  7. You are inspiring. My son has just been diagnosed with T2. It's been a challenging and rough road and we're getting the hang of it. The change of lifestyle alone is profound.

  8. Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose, either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.

  9. I hope the advances keep umm.. advancing until they completely eliminate this condition so we don't have to go through the discomfort of pumping.. But I guess we just have to wait.. congratulations by the way!

  10. Wow! Thank you for sharing that very personal story. That took a lot of courage.