Hello! It’s Rachel again.
I wanted to give you a little bit of an update related to my last post, which if you didn’t read you can check it out HERE. I talked about my dia-buddy and how we had gotten so close. Well, when I said she is still one of my best friends, I meant it! This past weekend, she flew in from Seattle, with her girlfriend and spent the weekend with me. We went to ACL and had a total blast. I was reminded all over again how grateful I am for her and how our friendship has grown over the years.
So, let me set the scene for you. It was 2006. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol and “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce were all the rage, and I was a weird fourth-grader. When I had first been diagnosed, I could not be trusted with my brother’s Gameboy, much less a highly expensive medical device so an insulin pump was out of the question. I started yearning for independence so my parents and I began looking into insulin pumps eventually. I remember there being a girl in my brother’s grade who had Type 1, and she was using an insulin pump. Our teachers arranged for us to meet, and she gave me a quick tutorial. I remember being intimidated, but I was just intimidated in general to be meeting an older and certifiably cooler middle school girl! I was too nervous to actually learn about the pump!
We spoke with my doctor, and at the time, Omnipods were still very new but having no tubing seemed like a pretty big plus. At that time, my doctor did not have any patients using it yet so he recommended us to the Animas or Medtronic pumps instead. I remember thinking Medtronic looked too much like an mp3 player or something, and that was the deciding factor. We went to the required training sessions for the Animas pump, practiced the angled insets on some sort of spongy surface, and learned all about the magic of basal rates instead of long-acting insulin.
I fell head-over-heels for that pump. Honestly, it made me feel cool. I did not have to go to the nurse all the time, and I could go eat dinner in public without getting stares from everyone else in the restaurant or having to run to the bathroom just to be able to give myself insulin. Phones at the time were around the size of my pump, so I got all of these cute little phone cases to put my pump in and to hook on my pants. My parents were a little less concerned, as were other parents, so it was much easier for me to stay over at friends’ houses. Whenever I wanted to be a kid and swim or play sports, I just had to give myself a little insulin and unclip the tubing, then I could join everyone else. I don’t think I ever really felt different on shots, but I felt much more normal with the pump. The biggest factor was me being able to take more control over my diabetes, be smarter with insulin I was giving myself and become healthier. I don’t know if I really would have been able to become confident in my health management without the push that the insulin pump gave me.
Of course, it was not all perfect. I was starting to go through puberty, so my numbers were ALL over the place, which meant constant changes with my pump. Also, because I was being active and acting like a “normal” kid, sometimes that meant my site was collateral damage. Ouch! There were times were my tubing got caught on drawers as I was running around, times when my dog thought it was dangling out in front of his nose just for him to chew, and times when there was inexplicably insulin all over the site, instead of in my body. Dresses were really hard to deal with, wearing shorts under everything and having to go to the bathroom to lift up your dress every time you have to use it!
There were times when my family and I discussed me switching back to shots, namely because of the number of failed sites I was having, but I was defensive of my pump. I said it was because it offered me better control of my numbers and more accuracy and detail in my boluses, but I think it was also because it made me feel like my own person, who did not have to get approval from adults all the time, who did not have to eat the same amount of carbs every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and who could spontaneously eat snacks if I so chose. That is the freedom that is priceless and I wish every Type One can find one day. No matter if it is on a pump or shots. And hey, maybe it is with the DIY Closed Loop system.