Guest Post: Pump Vacations?
In the midst of a very brief pump vacation myself (more on that later), Moira McCarthy's guest post today really resonated for me. I know if I told my mother (or my husband, for that matter) that I wanted to take a break from pumping, they'd read "burnout" in that admission. But sometimes deciding to take a break from certain diabetes things is the opposite of burnout - instead, it can be a sign that a PWD is trying to regain control, bit by bit.
Thanks for guest posting today, Moira. Your perspective is invaluable.
* * *
My college-aged daughter, who has had diabetes since Sesame Street was still a viable TV option, came at me with some big news the other day. She was going to go on shots. Shots, the evil, ruin-my-life treatment plan that I spent the first year of her diagnosis hating, fearing, chasing lows on and basically, feeling like it owned my life.
Now, let me say up front: I get it now. Shots have changed. There’s Lantus, for one (I think of NPH as the evil empire of diabetes, sorry), there are cool pens you can tuck away; there are all kinds of plans that make it a snap (well a snap in our D world. The rest of the world would freak out). But I had to think to myself; why the H*** would anyone choose shots over a pump?
Here is where mommy’s ego enters. My daughter was one of the very first young children to go on a pump in the Boston area. I did it with the help of on line friends (Thank you Ellen from kidsrpumping). I did it because it just seemed right to me. And okay, I did it so I could be that ultimate superhero: the Champion Diabetes Mom (CDM from here on it). CDM finds the newest and the best. CDM knows not only every type of insulin on the market and their peak patterns, but she can create a few fun anagrams from their names (Hey – who said diabetes can’t be fun?) I was that mom. I want to still be that mom.
My daughter was among the very first kids in America to use a CGM (she even used that horrid big one until the smaller one came out). No, she’s not on it now but that’s another discussion (see guest post on teens and freedom at DiabetesMine.com. Ha, ha, ha. And yes, that was a fake laugh). So for the most part, for the going on 14 year’s we’ve been at this, we’ve been trail blazers.
But my daughter is in college now. I need to preface this with good news. Despite my endless worries and almost insane fear of the unknown, she came home with a good GPA and a great A1c. Well, not great, but down three full points. Who does that their first semester of college? There were no ER visits, no fearful calls from friends. Sure, she had a few bad days but for the most part, she aced her first semester of majoring in Communications, politics and life with diabetes without the CDM over her shoulder.
So just before her endo visit she breaks it to me: she wants shots. She’s tired, she says, of the pump being attached to her (in fairness, other than when she was in the water during a swim meet, in the shower or in the time she was in denial over diabetes, it’s been connected to her body for 12 years. That’s a long time). This has nothing to do with tubing and everything to do with being connected to a disease. A “pump break” as she put it would give her a chance to breath, do something different and just take a break from LOOKINg at her disease 24/7.
I’m proud to say CDM kept a straight face. I didn’t react. I tried to just say “that’s cool.” But I suspect I did it in the same way I thought I was being cool way back when a bg of 450 and some ketones would completely freak me out. “No, honey, it will be fine,” my lips would read. Years later in counseling she confessed my eyes said “OMG you’re going to die and you’re going to die now.” Some fake outs take practice.
But here’s an interesting thought. I know everything there is to know about the pump. I can function it. I know basals. I was always the one who helped tweak it. When she steps into shot world this week, I won’t know squat. I have to wonder: is this a plan? Is the best thing for my awesome daughter for CDM to take a step back and let her learn to stand on her own? I know there is going to come a time when she goes back on the pump again. I need to know, too, there is going to come a time when she wants my input, advice and help on diabetes. But smart girl she has always been and always will be, she must know in her heart that CDM has to cease to exist. She’s moving toward being that adult PWD. I need to embrace it. And train my eyes to say otherwise.
* * *
As parents or caregivers of people with diabetes (CoPWD), do you want to keep your kid pumping/CGMing/technology'ing as much as possible because you think it's for the best? As PWDs (or CWDs), do you sometimes need a "less is more" approach to diabetes management?