Saturday, 21 September 2013

The long and winding road to becoming an insulin pumper

On the 9th of August I received funding approval for insulin pump consumables from Pharmac - due to a bit of a mix up I received funding for the actual insulin pump two weeks later. I am on my way to becoming an insulin pumper. Well on my way.

This isn't a post on pumping. This is a post on my feelings of having diabetes and how it has influenced my pumping decision.

My feelings on Insulin Pumps - Through the ages. 

I was diagnosed at the age of 15 and was initially put on a twice a day insulin regime, taking Protaphane at 7am and 7pm. For the life of me, I can't remember how long that lasted for. A little while, a couple of months. I don't think it was longer than 6 months. I remember my blood sugar not getting lower than 15 mmol/l and it'd been warned if that happened I needed to go to the Emergency Department, I did that and luckily didn't have Ketoacidosis. I did still have to have those painful blood tests where they take blood out of your wrist. I think that's my diabetes nemesis. The day after that visit to the Emergency Department I was put on the more usual regime, taking novorapid before meals. I remember at that time, or not long after I switched regimes that my Diabetes Educator gave me a brochure about insulin pumps. I'd had a read and they looked pretty cool but were expensive. Had it been a more viable option financially I'm sure it would have been something my parents looked into for me. But alas, it wasn't.

Insulin pumps have always been something I was aware of but wasn't something I gave much thought too. I was on Protaphane from 2003 - 2010. I was offered the switch to Lantus on 2005 but it wasn't funded back then. I'm sure my parents would have paid for it if I had asked but the big reason I was happy to stay on Protaphane was that Lantus was not available for pens in 2005 (not in NZ anyway), so I would have had to have used syringes. I was and in some ways still am, a needle phobic person. Syringes? No thank you. In hindsight, the protaphane's peaks and lulls and my own less than stellar timing of taking injections, resulted in some pretty scary lows in 2006/7/8. However. I was young and wasn't in good contact with the Diabetes Department at the Hospital. I visited the GP occasionally for insulin prescription repeats and also went to diabetes check ups with the nurse there. Somewhere between diagnosis, high school and going to Uni,  my feeling of needing to hide my diabetes began. I was growing up! I liked the feeling of independence I had! Over the years, this turned into a dislike of my diabetes. Having Diabetes made me feel like I was reliant on someone or something. I hated the idea of people needing to watch out for me, of being less than other people because I had this chronic medical condition. During this time, I barely kept up with advances in technology. In fact, one day I went to the Pharmacy and they'd told me my prescription for test strips was for the wrong type of meter. It turns out the meters had changed and I didn't even know. The girl I know today would have not let the technology pass her by! Back then though, I didn't follow the technology updates, or the DOC or anything diabetes related really. I let my prescriptions to Diabetes New Zealand and to Accu Chek expire which meant I didn't get their newsletters.

This isn't to say that my experience with Diabetes over those years was all bad. I met someone in 2006 who was in some ways a bit of a role model for me. She wasn't afraid of testing or injecting in public. Or of asking a bar tender for a free coke as her blood sugar was low.

My outlook on life with Diabetes slowly began changing, it did include a couple of very scary moments including being woken up my paramedics in my bedroom and in ICU for ketoacidosis. I've always thought about writing about them on my blog but haven't yet. Maybe soon. But where was I? Insulin pumps!

When I discovered the DOC, my reality changed entirely. I was suddenly not alone. And one thing I noticed was that everyone had a pump! There were very few blogs where the writers were on MDI - It was one of the reasons I started my blog, hardly anyone was writing about MDI so I wanted to.

I've written before about my diabetes control and how much a jigsaw and roller coaster it is. Over those appointments my DNE kept mentioning maybe a pump was an option. I was hesitant. I don't know why./con At the appointment where my DNE told me she was putting in a pump application she asked me, why I wasn't keen on the idea. I said it wasn't that I wasn't keen but that I didn't like change. I knew if I was given the opportunity of having a funded pump, I wouldn't turn it down. There was a couple of weeks before I heard back about the pump funding application and in that time I did a lot of research. I read, read and read even more about pumps. And that's when I knew that this was something I really wanted to do. A few special mentions - the videos from Diabetic Danica and Sweetful Stuff are fantastic! And I was lucky enough to find a fellow diabetic based in the North island who is a couple of steps ahead of me with the pump - but its been great to have someone to share questions, concerns and fears with. She's started pump training and has written about her experiences on her blog here.

But the roller coaster of feelings in my head didn't stop then. Over the past 6 weeks I've felt like I'm stuck in this giant whirl of feelings going on around me. I was so hesistant to tell any one about the pump especially while waiting for confirmation of funding. But even when I got confirmation I was scared to tell people, scared that something might go wrong. It didn't, but my special authority number was delayed meaning I didn't get my pump prescription for a while. That was frustrating but not the end of the world. I guess in my mind, telling people meant that it became real. I've been going through periods of excitement and then also utter terror. Having a physical manifestation of diabetes isn't and idea I am particular fond of.

And here I am, 25 years old, about to hit my 10 year anniversary of diagnosis and three weeks out from pump training. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Yes. No idea what to expect? Yes and No.

The whirlwind of feelings is on going and is the main reason this blog post has taken me so long to write but I am trying to roll with it! I know there's more to come. My pump start date is the 14th of October and I am told I can expect to be pumping by 11am. The countdown is on!