Pump Things I Wish I Had Known:
That I should learn to sew. Pockets in every pair of pants, tricky little places sewn into skirts to drop in that little pump.
About little kittens and their affinity for the tasty tubing.
That the infusion set needle wasn’t this enormous horse needle that would pierce me straight through. Instead, it’s a small, thin intrusion that pulls out as quickly as it entered, leaving behind the plastic cannula that I can hardly feel.
That I could house the infusion set somewhere other than my abdomen. If I had known I could use my thigh, my arm, my hip, and my stomach, I may have switched sooner.
That my pump consultant was serious when she said to check for air bubbles in the tubing. One little teeny air bubble can be the difference between a bolus of five units and a bolus of three.
That I should buy more than one pump clip, because one bounce in the Bouncy Castle at my cousin’s family cookout sent the pump clip flying across the castle and left my pump dangling from my waistband. (Yes, I was a bit too old to be bouncing around in the bouncy castle, but that is not the point. And I would definitely do it again.)
Doorknobs. It’s like they have hands and they reach out specifically to grab pump tubing.
That the phrases, “I’m pumped,” and “Pumped up,” would send me into a fit of giggles and smirks for the few months after the pump came in that big FedEx box. Pumping has made puns even more delicious for me.
To add a syringe to my kit, just in case the pump malfunctioned and I needed to draw a dose from the reservoir itself. (The syringe fits neatly into the top of the reservoir and you can draw back from it, just like you would a bottle of insulin.)
To get an insertion device right off the bat. I spent two full weeks fussing with bent cannulas because I wasn’t manually inserting the sets correctly. That QuickSet thing makes life much easier. I have three of them in various places in my house, car, and office.
That I should be thankful for my breasts because they have successfully hidden my pump between them at many fancy functions.
Oh, and that thigh thing contraption that wraps around my thigh and has a pocket for the pump. I own three of them and use them at least a few times per week. They make dresses and skirts a snap.
That the tubing is resilient and strong enough to withstand the pump dropping from my hand. But the tubing is not a yo-yo string and the pump cannot “bounce back up” if I give the tubing a snap.
That it is easy to disconnect and set aside.
That calling myself “A Robot” to my nephew generated a laugh. Same response from Chris. And my mother. And me, to be honest.
That both Chris’ niece and my beautiful nephew would nod understandingly when I referred to my pump as “my medicine”:
"Okay,” my nephew Connor said. “Let’s go play zombies.”
Chris’ lovely niece stared for a minute, then asked if she could wear my pretty diabetes bracelet. (Which, of course, I let her.)
That I no longer needed to wear a watch because the pump kept such exquisite time.
That I could use the backlight on the pump in my darkened hallway at night when I’ve slipped out to the kitchen for a glass of water and need more than mental breadcrumbs to find my way back.
That pumping isn’t right for every diabetic and just because someone isn’t pumping doesn’t mean they aren’t taking the very best care of themselves.
That the little plastic cap that comes in the infusion set packaging was the best thing for me to wear in the shower and the ocean when I’m disconnected, and that (again), little kittens love those tasty things.
That wearing the pump and my bikini would be a pain in the ass, but I would still be on the beach every weekend of the summer. And that the white infusion set would leave an equally white tan line when I moved the site around.
That I could leave an infusion set in for more than three days. And I wish someone had shown me how to refill a reservoir right off the bat.
That this shit is EXPENSIVE and to be prepared for exorbitant costs and battles with insurance companies.
That the little boop beep boop noise of the pump trying to get my attention would become something I said conversationally back to the pump. “Boop beep boop,” says the pump. “Boop beep boop to you,” responds Kerri to the inanimate object.
That Duracell batteries are crap and to not bother buying them, even though they were on sale at CVS and significantly cheaper than their Energizer counterparts. Little did I know, they would be sucked dry within four days.
That my body is still the same, except for this white plastic circle that is less than an inch in diameter. Maybe it’s healthier.
That sex wouldn’t be ruined because of my pump. That my partner would find my body desirable and sexy and wouldn’t be phased by the fact that I disconnect an insulin pump before we make love. That I felt almost a little bit sexier because I felt like I was in better control of my diabetes.
That someone can say, “I love you,” and I know they mean every little bit of me, including my smile and my laugh and my ambition and my pump. That the same person can also say that they don’t think about diabetes when they think of me. They think of just Me.
That it would drop my A1c by a half a point within six months.
That it isn’t as big as I thought it would be. I pictured something not unlike a toaster oven, clanking from my hip and sounding a siren when my bloodsugar was cresting out of range. I wasn’t prepared for the little beeper sized machine that I could hide in my pocket.
That when people catch a glimpse of the pump, they might stare. But I couldn’t blame them. If I wasn’t diabetic, I would probably stare, too. It helps to smile at them.
But I can’t mislead you. Some days it feels like the pump accounts for most of my body. Some days it doesn’t hide neatly in the folds of my skirt. Some days it falls from my hand and bangs against the floor, tugging the tubing and causing the site to ache. Some days the boluses burn and the sites ooze infection.
Some days I feel like I want to toss it against the wall and watch it explode into a thousand little pieces. Some days I feel like I am exploding into a thousand pieces.I wish I had known that wearing a pump didn’t make me “more diabetic.” It didn’t mean defeat or acceptance. It means that I decided to utilize the precision of an insulin pump to deliver my insulin. It means I will be bonking it against door jams and tables and boyfriends while dancing. It means I wear this device. It means I feel strong and healthy and on my way to securing my future as a good wife and mother. But it doesn’t make me any less “Kerri.”
Maybe it makes me able to be more.