Living an Attached Life with Diabetes

If you live with diabetes and rely on technology to stay alive it can bring all sorts of emotions. As a person with type 1 diabetes myself, it is very interesting to live life permanently attached to something – my insulin pump – and being reliant on machines to live.  I feel both grateful and frustrated at the same time. I have been a pumper since 2002 and so, I live attached. This has been at times interesting, freeing, scary, powerful, confusing and uncomfortable! Quite a lot of people tell us they are not sure about living life attached to something but this is the thing I found the easiest.

Are you also a pumper?

I started pumping as I wanted a third baby and the best control I could get going into, and during the pregnancy. My other two pregnancies on multiple daily injections were very hard,but insulin in those days was nowhere near as effective or reliable as it is now. Insulin Pumps in South Australia were at that time very new, so my choices were limited ergo, I had no choice of pump! I was just started on what was available.

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I was popped into hospital for 3 days (it was a big deal then!) and taken through the enormous change to pumping from injections. I was scared and unsure about what to expect, and had flashbacks to being 12 and sitting on the trolley in the children’s hospital being yelled at to “just do the injection and it will be over” – the first time I injected insulin… Yes starting a pump was a little bit like starting over with diabetes.

Many people tell us that they felt similar things, uncertainty or fear, and worries about how it would impact their lives. Relying on a machine to be your pancreas is not something you take lightly.

Armed with charts and instructions, multiple lines, cannulas, needles, huge insertors to smack the cannula into my body, tapes and worries, I headed home to start a new life full of hope.

Skip ahead to a few weeks later and my obsessive intention to be “perfect” was now coupled with a fear of making sure I didn’t do anything wrong…I had fears that the pump may misfire, give me too much or too little insulin – and it was then I realised “I AM STILL A DIABETIC!”

It hit me then that I may have thought pumping would make me closer to “normal”, closer to a “non diabetic”, or even make me “undiabetic”  – can we make that a word?

So there I sat, somewhat depressed, with my illusions shattered and realising that life on a pump is still hard……and you have to carry so much STUFF! And the realisation that there is no perfect way of managing diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes. As yet, nothing is foolproof. And didn’t I feel a fool. Except now I realise I wasn’t. I was just a person with a bloody terribly hard condition, hoping against all hopes that this may be the thing to change my life back to how it was before diabetes…before my life changed forever.

Eventually I had that baby, albeit 7 years later in 2008! Yes he decided not to come along until I was excellent at managing the pump (clever little thing he is) and he continues to surprise us every day. The pregnancy, birth and after time were just amazing – completely different to my other 2 pregnancies on injections – but that is for another blog. The pump and my maturity and knowledge of diabetes made a massive impact on my experience, and the health of my baby and me. Despite it not being anywhere near perfect, I would never go back – “Pumpy” is now a permanent fixture in my life even with a stomach that looks like a pin cushion, fingers with black spots all over them from all the blood glucose checks and the damn cord getting stuck on things from time to time!

Pumping is not for everyone  – it is a choice. Nobody should be made to feel that any way of managing diabetes is better than any other. It is a choice and is yours to make. Sometimes I feel like the pump is not always for me, but in the main – I am attached, literally and figuratively. Until they come up with an artificial pancreas or a cure, it is here to stay.

How about you? Are you a pumper, or considering it? I would love to hear your experiences

Helen

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