Why did I decide to go on an Insulin Pump?


Two reasons; I was doing all the work that being on a pump involved; carb counting, testing my blood glucose 7 times daily and paying attention to the glycaemic index of food but my HbA1c results were not improving. They always hovered above the 7% and I decided that they should be better. And the second reason was that I was beginning to feel the aging process catching up with me through my lack of exercise but not wanting to introduce another variable into my routine, I avoided exercise and I found it difficult to plan exercise.

My name is Grainne, I’m approaching the big 4-0, I have been married for 10 years and have two children. I spend a lot of my working life in some kind of administration or secretarial job but left all that to train and qualified as a graphic designer. Before I launched my career as a graphic designer I became a mother for the second time and chose to take care of my children over going back into the work force.

Oh yeah, I have had Type 1 diabetes for 18 years.

Life before the Pump.

I was on a rapid-acting insulin called NovoRapid which I took with my meals and snacks or if I needed to correct a high blood sugar. And I also took a long acting insulin, Lantus which I initially took once daily at bedtime but then for a while I took it twice daily; both morning and evening. I used the Insulin Pens which meant this added up to at least 5 injections daily.

I measured my carb intake and I tested my blood sugars before meals and two hours afterwards to make sure that I was taking the correct amount of insulin for that meal. From one test to the next I could never predict what my blood sugars would be and every day would have at least one high (greater than 10 mmols) blood glucose reading.

I got frustrated about not being as in control of my diabetes as I should be for the amount of effort I was putting in.

The Process.

The insulin pump was first introduced to me in 2002 when I was living in America and I’m ashamed to say that ignorance prompted me to say “no”. I had been on multiple daily injections (MDI) at that point for 9 years and on the bolus/basal regimen for 4 years. I was never comfortable with change and when my diabetes is concerned I feared it.

In 2008, the pump was mentioned again and at this point I had heard more about it but I still said “no”. However, I decided at this point maybe I should investigate what I was really turning down. I turned to the internet and the dozens of online communities in the English speaking world for more information, I met some sales reps at diabetes conferences and acquired more reading material and I read a book specifically on insulin pumping.

The pump was beginning to sound like it would be worth a go. By my next appointment with my consultant I had done a complete U-turn. I was ready to try a pump.

So between a letter of reference being mislaid, a waiting list being very long and finding out from my diabetes support group about alternative resources for insulin pumpers I finally got connected to my pump on June 3rd 2010.

Living with an Insulin Pump.

I did a trial period on the insulin pump before going “live”. This means that I would practice attaching it but not using insulin just yet. I used a saline and water solution instead of insulin. The purpose of this was to become less afraid of it and to become familiar with the button pressing and more importantly to figure out where and how I was going to wear it.

During the trial period I wanted to fling the thing at the nearest wall – the tubing was always in the way. I had some doubts about whether or not I would be able to do this but I knew that if it didn’t work out I could go back to MDI. I adopted a “if you never try, you never know” attitude. Plus, there were so many pump users in the world raving about its benefits that I had to believe the pros were going to outweigh the cons.

Once I went “live” this all changed. I adapted to the button pushing in about a week, in about two weeks I was comfortable with the infusion set change and within six months it all clicked together. I can predict my blood sugar readings most of the time now and it’s absolutely glorious to look at my record book and see blood glucose readings of 5’s, 6’s, and 7’s. The normal range of blood sugar readings is becoming normal.

I’ve started walking 30 minutes and I manage to fit it in most days but on the days I don’t get to fit it in I’m not trying to keep up with hypos or vice versa.

When I was on MDI my blood sugars would bounce like a rubber ball now that I’m pumping my blood sugars are like a see-saw – they seldom go any lower than the ground or higher than the tipping point. Life with diabetes, and life in general is much simpler.