I obviously want to write about all aspects of diabetes as much as I can. But sometimes it’s difficult as my experience only goes so far! Especially when it comes to the insulin pump.
At the moment I use injections around 6-8 times a day depending on what I’m doing. I have zero experience with the pump and I really wanted to get someone’s perspective on it so those of you who have it or are thinking about getting one can use it with your journey.
So, meet Aaron! Aaron and I have been chatting a fair bit via Twitter having first got in contact when I posted my Diabetes and Me post and I asked him this week to produce something on his experience with the pump! I’m delighted to say he’s come up with something brilliant and I’m extremely grateful for his words. Please give him a follow on Twitter @AaronT1D.
So, without further ado…
This year marks my 20 year milestone of being a Type One diabetic. This year is also the first time being on an Insulin pump. After years of good control and only taking Insulin injections twice a day, my body said “um time for change”, and my blood sugar levels became unstable.
The reason for this change is unclear but it has been suggested by my healthcare practitioner that perhaps my body had been producing some insulin and after all this time that stopped.
I have been active since a very young age and have always been involved in sports, martial arts, dance, weight lifting and fitness training. When I was diagnosed this didn’t change. In fact I became more determined to do the things I wanted. I wanted to be super human and I believed I was.
But after years of feeling invincible and doing all the right things, I suddenly found myself not able to control the blood sugar levels. The worst aspect of this was my mental well-being. I felt awful, down, unable to concentrate. My memory got worse and for the first time I thought “is this constant roller coaster of highs and lows worth it?”
My health care team thought it would be a good idea to put me on multiple injections but unfortunately this had little improvement and I was left in a worst state. I went low carb, eating mainly protein and fat and I found that this has helped a lot.
It was suggested I go on a pump but because of my physical active lifestyle I was not keen. The idea of being connected to a machine with a tube was a definite no no. It was my nutritionist, who is also Type 1, who showed me her omnipod system. I had never heard of it. She showed me how it has no tubes and a remote system and is small enough to not be noticeable whilst allowing me to be as physical as I needed.
Well it seemed my prayers were answered. I agreed to go ahead and what followed was seven months of waiting before I got it. During this time I found out everything I needed to know about it and I also met my new Twitter buddies, you guys! I’ve learnt so much from others going through the same thing and reading your stories and messages has saved me in many ways. (Dan – I love this).
I was/ am extremely sensitive to small changes in blood sugar levels. If I go above 8.00 mmols (144mg/dl) I feel awful, unable to concentrate, negative and helpless. If I go below 4.00 mmols (72mg/dl) then I feel the same but if I am stable I feel like I am on top of the world! I don’t get why I am so sensitive to these changes but the worst aspect is the effect it has on my family and loved ones.
I don’t know if you get this too but this condition affects your mood as well as your motivation and sometimes this can lead to misunderstandings and arguments. No matter how you try to explain to others sometimes they just don’t get it and why would they. Unless they are going through it themselves how on earth would they understand. All we can do to help the situation is communication, communication, communication. Keep telling people how you feel and if your levels are a bit up and down. This mutual understanding just makes everything 10 times better.
When I started the omnipod I felt a change almost as soon as I started using it. The major reason I think is cause you can fine tune the insulin dosage to meet your bodies needs. Your body needs a constant background supply of insulin. On multiple injections you give yourself a shot or 2 to last over a 24 hour period, however this never matches your bodies requirements and I think this is why I wasn’t getting on with it.
Your body needs more and less insulin depending on the time of day and your lifestyle. This can’t be replicated on the multiple injection regime. When the levels match your body’s requirements everything else just seems so much easier for me, I am now stable and for the most part feeling great. I have good and bad days of course but overall it is amazing how controlled I am.
The pod sticks on anywhere there is soft tissue fat and when doing sports I find the lower back or side of the butt to be the best places. It has only fallen off once during a demanding dance routine I was doing. This was resolved by using kine tape to hold it. The tape moves with your muscles and is waterproof too. I definitely recommend it when doing extreme activities.
It can stay on for up to three days and to be honest once it’s on I can forget it’s there. It is waterproof so showering is not a problem but if you want a long soak in the bath it is best to wait until a pod change. Sleeping is also not an issue. The first night I kept checking to see if it was there but I soon got use to it. To me is no different to wearing a watch or any accessory and I like it being unnoticeable when I’m at the gym or doing sports.
The only negative I see with the pod is the price of maintaining it. The National Health Service is paying for it here (in the UK) and the costs are ridiculous. I don’t know why diabetes aids have such a high price tag. Whenever I go for my check up I am reminded about the price and I am worried that it may be taken away from me in the future. We have enough worries, we don’t need more stress. I think there needs to be more competition and that may lower prices.
A lot of the time I forget I am wearing the pod and it has become part of me. As technology improves we might even see better treatments to keep levels stable throughout the day and night with little intervention from us. Who knows I might even see a cure in my life time.
The point is as diabetics we can still do everything, nothing is off limits. We can eat what we want and do what we want. It is so easy to see this condition as a curse but it can also be a blessing for example all the lovely people I have met on Twitter and beyond going through the same thing sharing experiences and learning from each other. That is as valuable as the pump itself for me. I feel superhuman again thanks to the pod and thanks to what I have learnt from you the diabetes universe, and no matter what the future holds in terms of the pump, in the terms of a cure and in terms of money, no matter what, things will always work out.
I want to thank Dan @healthytypeone for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences (Dan – you’re very welcome). There is so much more I could say about the the pod and about our condition. Do whatever it takes to be happy that’s what I think and that is what counts.