I did it.  I made the jump.  I no longer take daily injections, I made the switch to an insulin pump.

I chose the Omnipod, which is a disposable pump without tubing.  It’s controlled by a blood sugar meter/ remote control device.  I thought that it would be a better fit for my lifestyle than a pump with tubes… I’m not sure if I’m right yet.

I was so excited when I left my doctors office after she helped me get set up.  I felt just like I did when I got my ears pierced in elementary school – wearing something that made me feel proud, and grown up, and profoundly different for indescribable reasons.  I drove home, got out of my car, and immediately felt a painful tug on my hip.  I had just ripped the pump off my body for the first of many times.  My heart sunk… was this what it would be like?  Constantly having to watch out for this little life saving device?  Having to ease myself in and out of cars and chairs and beds like an invalid?  How would I do yoga?  Sail? Keep working around little grabby-handed toddlers??

One of my main concerns with the insulin pump, was how it would affect my activities, especially yoga.  I have been skipping yoga a lot lately, so I have really only been to one class with the insulin pump so far.  I am happy to report that I really didn’t notice it a lot during class.  I am able to wear it many different places; my abdomen, lower back/ upper hip area, arms, and legs.  I’ve tried my hips, stomach, and right now I have it on my arm.  The one thing I have struggled with in yoga class, is when I have to lie directly on top of the pump.  When I took my class I was wearing it on my stomach, so, I had to figure out how to distribute my weight more comfortably during the first part of the floor series.  The one pose I just gave up on was locust pose.  Because of the way you have to position your arms under your body, I ended up having to put direct pressure on my infusion site from the side, which I thought would probably have torn the pump off (something that happened getting in and out of the car several times!).  

I really think I will be able to figure out things that work for me.  When I sail, I have been wearing an ace bandage around the pump, and that has prevented me from hitting it on a lifeline, shroud, or  stanchion (I was having trouble with that at first too.

I knew going into this that it would be an adjustment for me, and I know I have to continue to just work through these fairly minor hiccups.  The slight soreness from wearing the pump, the awkward questions about what is on me, and working around it in yoga class, I will get accustomed to those things in time.  

insulinfully yours,

C

Pictures: One just the pump, and one with the ace bandage covering it. Not too bad huh?

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I write a lot about challenge. I write a lot about goals. I write a lot about pain, and struggle; I also write a lot about victory and overcoming obstacle. Without a doubt, the thing in my life that exemplifies all of this pain, struggle, obstacle, victory, and challenge is living with Type I Diabetes. Insulin dependant diabetes; juvenile diabetes; IDDM.

While out the other day, I heard a misunderstanding about diabetes I often hear: “my aunt has an insulin pump. She has to because her diabetes is so severe.” At this point in my life, my instinct is to just say “oh really? that’s too bad,” when really I should see it as an opportunity to educate. I should have said “Actually diabetes is kind of an all or nothing disease. Basically you have it or you don’t, it doesn’t vary in severity.” Sure there is a more complicated answer than that, but without saying anything at all, I’m not accomplishing anything. All silence does is contribute to ignorance. That is why I’d like to explain to my readers what it is actually like to live with this disease. I don’t intend to educate you about how diabetes works, if you want education go here. I just want you to know what it’s actually like to live with disease, every day.

When I went to the Seattle Sweden Diabetes Awareness Conference late in 2010, one of the speakers said something that really hit home: “imagine what it’s like to work really hard at something and fail. Now imagine what it’s like to work really hard at something you don’t want to work on, and there’s no end to it, and you always fail.” That is what trying to control blood sugars is like. It’s like working really hard at something, every second of every day, and still in the end feeling unsuccessful because it’s all about damage control. It’s balancing what you eat with how much insulin to take; it’s knowing that the amount of insulin you take affects your metabolism and your weight; it’s understanding that if you then decide to exercise later in the day, you probably have to eat more to balance out the calories burned with the amount of insulin you’ve taken. Type I Diabetes is living in terror of complications like kidney failure, and neuropathy. Type I Diabetes is having an immune system so compromised you have to go to a wounds nurse after you stub your toe and it bleeds.

It’s more than that. It’s also hoping and praying that it isn’t something you did or your parents did that made you get this disease. It’s not being able to visit your boyfriend for the weekend and change your eating and sleeping schedule without getting debilitating, exhausting, and nauseating low blood sugars. It’s not being able to sleep in even on a school or work holiday. Not being able to go on an impromptu vacation with your friend because you have to go home and get your medical supplies.

It’s also knowing my body extremely well. Being able to read my headaches, stomach-ache, dizziness or even moodiness like a book. Knowing how individual foods affect me for hours and hours after.

Having diabetes is an extremely personal struggle, but I’m trying to open up about it because I know I can’t do it all alone forever. I guess my point is, if you know someone who is struggling with anything, be there for them. Be present, don’t be pushy but be present. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to turn to a friend and say “this is hard.”

-C