To begin this blog I must send out an apology. It would appear it has been 6 months since I last posted on here and although I have regular thoughts on blogger topics that I'd like to share, my time and energy levels have taken me away from my previous health-related brain dumps. I'd like to say that I can now go back to blogging as I had before, however working as an actual real life nurse now (I know, it's a scary thought) is far more physically and mentally demanding than I could have ever expected. That's not to say that I don't love my job, I absolutely adore it in so many ways, I just now need to summon enough energy and motivation to get back to my old advocacy and social media ways. It would appear that people have, sadly, lied to me, and coffee does not provide adequate support in summoning these blogging essentials.
Anyway, I digress, yesterday Facebook reminded me of a memory that I had posted 4 years ago which, for once, didn't involve an ex boyfriend or a beloved family pet that had passed over rainbow bridge (you've gotta love Facebook for hitting you with those as soon as you wake up). It was a moment that not only changed my diabetes management and outlook for the better, but my whole life. It has been 4 years since I moved from insulin injections (long and fast acting, or MDI if you like) onto insulin pump therapy, 4 years since I made the best possible decision I could for my health.
I remember the day so well... I joined a group of 4 others who were all due to start on the same pump (my beloved Accu-Chek Spirit Combo which I named Iain after my consultant at the time. Shout out to Dr C!) and together we were scheduled for 6 weekly meetings to learn about the features of the pump and how to make insulin changes based on our blood glucose results, illness, exercise levels, level of drunkenness and kebab consumption (in my case) etc. From day one we were set up with our pumps and it wasn't until the moment that it was attached that I experienced what love at first sight felt like; Apprehension, followed by a small prick (from the needle of course) and ending with a companion that would rarely leave my side.
My main concerns and the reasons I had put off using a pump for 2 years previously were; that it may hurt/be uncomfortable to have a cannula inside me 24/7, that other people would be able to see my pump and I was unsure of how easily I could it be to disguise under clothing, I didn't know how having a pump attached 24/7 would feel (both physically and mentally) and would all of the hard work that goes into using a pump pay off?
I can honestly say that each of these concerns were soon to be cast aside as I quickly realised the benefits far outweighed any negatives. In fact, in terms of negatives, I don't think I have ever really experienced any that weren't as a result of human error (aka me - I am a hugely disorganised human error at times), the pump itself has always been pretty damn wonderful.
I would now like to share with you some of those wonderful pump features, benefits and moments that I have experienced over the last 4 years...
- Being able to eat or take a correction dose of insulin without having to inject (although I now eat far more than I used to for this reason)
- Being able to increase and decrease my basal (background) insulin as and when required with the touch of a few buttons
- Being able to change my cannula every 3 days, rather than having to inject at least 4 times a day (pre-pump I was injecting around 8 times a day)
- Being able to take insulin or make changes to my insulin by using only my blood glucose meter and not having to use my pump (this is depenmdent on which pump you use, mine has bluetooth which enables me to do this)
- Growing in confidence around my diabetes management and becoming loud and proud about my portable pancreas
- Being able to teach others about the pros and cons of insulin pump therapy in order to help them make decisions about what could be benificial for their diabetes
- Being approached to try new pumps for reviews and to feed back to pharma about what makes a great insulin pump experience
- Being the most knowledgeable person in A&E and the Acute Medical Unit about insulin pumps (until the diabetes team walk in to these areas and steal my thunder) :)
- Being more body confident and happy to show off my insulin pump in a bikini and just body confident in general (with a big shout out to the beautiful Sierra Sanderson for making #showmeyourpump a thing!)
- Being different from my friends - I like to be different, I like to have something that sets me apart from everyone else. I may have a busted pancreas but I own it
- Being able to be a nurse - I have much more confidence over my ability to manage my diabetes with a pump then I did on injections
- Being able to finally start managing gastroparesis more effectively due to insulin deliver options
Of course, I'd be lying if I said it was all good, and there have been a few WTF moments along the way. Some of you may know that I took a 3 month pump break not too long ago and I did go back to injecting during that period. This was a particularly difficult time in my life and I found that stress had affected my glucose levels so profoundly that I was misjudging my insulin delivery options and doses, therefore going back to injections and simplifying at least that aspect of my life was very helpful for me. There have also been many "tubing caught on door handle" moments due to my utter incompetence and lack of spacial awareness.
So there it is, a quick round up of how and why I fell in love at first sight with my portable pancreas. Do feel free to share this with anyone who is considering insulin pump therapy and/or who, like I was, may be undecided about whether or not it's an option for them.