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Insulin Pump Therapy: I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

By Meri Schuhmacher

Guest Blogger

Posted:  3/11/2014 3:00 PM

Tags:

My first son was diagnosed fifteen years ago at eight months old. Back then, we used a flurry of different insulins, trying to find the best regimen for him. There was Regular, intermediate acting, NPH and finally the introduction of some new rapid-acting insulin’s.

Although long acting insulin is not supposed to peak, the ones available back then did in our tiny eight month old. I checked his blood sugars multiple times a night out of necessity.

Every day was a marathon. We jumped through hoops to make our daily routine match the demands the insulin had on our son.

I believe my son was two or three when our Endocrinologist asked if we’d be willing to take part in a trial. My son had the opportunity to be one of the first toddlers on an insulin pump; our doctor thought it would be a great fit for us.

The first thing I said was, “My son isn’t a lab rat.”

The second thing I said was, “He’s doing really well on his current regimen. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.”

The third thing I said was, “Machines break. I want personal control of the insulin that goes in his body.”

But inside, I felt the most sadness from the words I could not say. Inside, I was lamenting, “I don’t want a reminder that he has diabetes clipped to his waist. I want diabetes to stay invisible.”

My son didn’t begin pumping until five years after his diagnosis, and only then because his current numbers were all over the place, and we were at our wits end. I was terrified to begin pumping; I cried big crocodile tears quietly in bed every night. When the box containing the new pump came in the mail, the instruction manuals and new verbiage were so completely overwhelming. I believe I would have stopped the entire process after we got that first box from Medtronic if my husband hadn’t lovingly encouraged me. “Let’s try it for a month or two. If we hate it, we can always stop.”

Man. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I wish I knew beforehand how the pump would completely change our lives.

I wish I knew that even though it all seemed overwhelming, before long we would become pumping experts. Like riding a bike, it would take practice and trial and error to find our balance.

I wish I knew the flexibility would be life altering. He could eat when he wanted. Miracle! No more scheduling meals around peaks in insulin.

I wish I knew that I would have control over every hour of every day at my fingertips. When he was going low at 1am, we simply had to push a few buttons to deliver less insulin a couple hours before the fall. Problem solved.

I wish I knew how less traumatic the pump would be for him. I was so worried about having a pump present it didn’t even occur to me what a blessing it would be to have one shot every three days in comparison to the six a day he was getting from syringes.

I wish I knew how empowering the pump would be for him. He became quite self-sufficient early on. He could push a few buttons when he ate or when his blood sugar was high. He didn’t need me running to school to give him insulin when there was a surprise birthday treat for another student.

I wish I knew that sick days wouldn’t be such a panic anymore. Setting temporary basal rates was a brilliant solution to Ketones. No more emergency rooms for simple illnesses such as ear infections. We saved him so much trauma being able to handle sick days at home.

Most of all though, I wish I knew what an impact the pump would have on his A1C. His overall health was eons better because of the blue pump hanging from his hip.

When my other two boys were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they were put on insulin pumps immediately. I had no problem having my two-year-old toddle around with his Medtronic pump dragging behind him on the floor. I knew that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.

And those drawbacks that I spouted off to the doctor years ago?

I just wish I knew then that he wouldn’t have been a lab rat, but rather a trailblazer. That yes, he was doing well on his regimen, but he could have been doing better. That yes, pumps do break sometimes, but Medtronic has overnight shipping. And most of all, I wish I would have known my boys wouldn’t have a problem with having a pump attached to them, in fact, they would be proud to have such an amazing gadget to show their friends.

Are pumps for everyone? Maybe not. But they are for our family.

Looking back years ago, I know why I was scared. It’s a daunting task taking our first steps into the unknown. But once we begin a new path it stands to reason that the unfamiliar will soon become the familiar.

And really, progress can only happen by bravely moving forward, even if it is one tentative step at a time.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

For more information, please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/importantsafetyinformation.

Comments

Debra

Posted on Tue Mar 11 22:22:28 GMT 2014

I feel the same way, we waited far to long to start on the pump for my son because I was so hesitant and scared. Once we switched and got used to it, our lives changed in so many positive ways. So glad we did it, it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Lisa Boone

Posted on Tue Mar 11 22:36:07 GMT 2014

I loved reading this. My son was also diagnosed at 8 months. He was the youngest in our tri-state area to go on a pump at the age of 18 months. It was a total game changer. Now he is almost 13 and doing great. Puberty has been a challenge, but we are surviving.

Dona Kelley

Posted on Tue Mar 11 22:39:11 GMT 2014

Thank you for sharing your story! I have to say it brought me to tears because I can identify so much with what you wrote. My oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 in 1995 at 23 months. Like you, we struggled with available insulins and I had the same fears of having his diabetes "attached" to his belt when considering a pump. He finally began pumping as a 3rd grader when I was pregnant with my third child. He did awesome! Little would we know that 3 years later our precious baby girl would be diagnosed. Putting her on a pump was not even a question. You're exactly right when you said machines break. Our daughter accidently fell in a pool with her pump on last summer. Minimed had a replacement by the next morning! I would recommend trying a pump to anyone taking injections!

Amy

Posted on Tue Mar 11 23:25:26 GMT 2014

My son was diagnosed at 5 and went on pump within a month. At 10 years old he is amazingly self sufficient , and I am so thrilled with the normalcy it has granted him. We still don't like diabetes, but it isn't the focus of every second of our lives.

Penny Bradley

Posted on Wed Mar 12 02:15:40 GMT 2014

As a school nurse, I have seen nothing but miracles for kids with pumps. Much more independence and freedom. Isn't our goal in life to raise happy , healthy, strong adults?

uriah peacock

Posted on Wed Mar 12 03:27:53 GMT 2014

Awesome story. I was diagnosed with type 1 at 7 years old (I'm 30 now). I received my first pump at 13 years old and understand how much of a difference or can make. No more mixing insulin, no more regimented days. The first thing I tell people who ask how I deal with having connected to me all the time is about the freedom it gave me

Joel

Posted on Wed Mar 12 15:23:42 GMT 2014

Debra, Lisa, Dona, and Amy, thank you so much for sharing your stories of when you started your child on a pump. I am so happy to hear they are all doing well on insulin pump therapy, and that your lives have positively been impacted as well.

Penny, thank you for sharing your experience of being a school nurse and seeing the benefits insulin pump therapy has had on the children you care for.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Uriah. I am so glad to hear you are doing well on insulin pump therapy, and the freedom it has given you!

Jenny

Posted on Thu Mar 13 12:27:10 GMT 2014

I fought the hardest fight ever to get medical aid to approve the pump for my son. There were times during his teenage years i thought i would be committed because the stress we were all under was enormous. He had endless hypos and i hated night time! Finally i won the battle and he got his pump about 9 months ago after injecting for 13 years. It was awesome and after a few months he even started to feel his lows and then the problem started. He is very slim and the 9mm shunt feels like a permanent toothache in his body so he went onto the 6mm which gets a kink in it all the time and he ends up with ketones. He is so desperate that he is considering going back on the injections which he really battles on - something to do with the long acting insulin just causes endless serious hypo's. He must have a very low pain threshold because as tough as he is in tolerating pain, he really feels it badly. Does anyone have any suggestion cause i feel so down at the thought of him going back on injections.

Joel

Posted on Thu Mar 13 15:43:32 GMT 2014

Jenny, I’m sorry to hear your son is experiencing these problems. I will have someone from my team contact you to try to help your son. Please know that you can also always call our 24-Hour HelpLine Team at 800-646-4633, option 1, to get their help immediately.

patrisha

Posted on Sun Mar 16 13:40:22 GMT 2014

good not long

Karen

Posted on Mon Mar 17 15:39:17 GMT 2014

What a wonderful post. I know that I too had a lot of reservations about starting on an insulin pump. (Oh who am I kidding, I was downright terrified.) But I couldn't get my A1C in an acceptable range, so I finally starting thinking about trying one. Reading posts by other T1 bloggers who had the same fears I did, yet started pumping and loved it, was what made me finally feel strong enough to give it a try. Thank you for sharing this post, so other parents who have fears about their children starting on insulin pumps will also feel less alone.

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