Reflections on the day my pump arrived two years ago…
The FedEx box loomed in the middle of the room.
Special overnight delivery. On a Saturday, no less. The room shrank as the box sat unopened.
I made myself a cup of tea and sat down on the floor. Peeled back the packing tape. The flaps sprang open and a few stray foam peanuts flung themselves onto the floor, falling victim to Abby’s big paws. Reaching into the box, I foraged around until I found the green, white and blue box inside. “Medtronic Minimed. Paradigm 512.”
It looked like a pager. Slightly bigger, maybe, weighing in a just a few ounces. Smokey gray in color and almost transparent, I could see all the gears and wires inside.
Sipping my tea, I clipped it to the top of my shorts and stood up. I felt unbalanced, as though I would tip to one side if an aggressive breeze blew through. Leaving it attached, I jumped up and down. Nothing happened. I sat on the couch to see if it I would feel its presence. I walked over to the window and looked out onto the deck, hearing the soft clink of the pump as it touched against the window sill.
The box of infusion sets was decidedly dodgier. Twenty three inches of snaky, thin white tubing. The round white patch of gauze with the bright blue lid on it. A 6 mm cannula.
Prying open the infusion set packaging, I touched the tip of the needle with my finger. It was hollow and very sharp. I lifted up my shirt and exposed my stomach, daring myself to press the needle tip against my skin. It stung a small bit, but no more than a syringe.
I was used to syringes, though. I’d used them many times a day for over seventeen years. Was I ready for this? This change? This whole new regimen?
I pressed the needle hard against my stomach, watching as my skin resisted, then that sliding pop of compliance as the needle slid in. I pulled out the blue cap and inspected the infusion set in my stomach for the first time. It looked like the cap on children’s Tylenol. Like a tiny little Superdome on my abdomen.
Standing in front of the full length mirror in my bathroom, it was bright white against my skin. I pulled my shirt tight over it and saw its outline against the fabric. It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t big. It could go unnoticed. My body still looked the same. I was still the same.
The tear that slipped down my cheek was absorbed into my shirt and quickly joined by another. I was scared. But why? This small thing, clipped to my belt and the cannula under my skin, was going to help me achieve better control. It was going to assist me in lowering my otherwise plateaued A1C. The pump was going to afford me the freedom of sleeping late, conquering the dawn phenomenon, and bolusing minute increments.
I felt different, though. This pump was the first external sign of my diabetes. And that, after 17 years of quiet injections and subtle finger pricks, stirred up the oddest combination of pride and fear. I have done this for so long the only way I knew how. This new method was daunting. I had no idea that my A1C would drop within three months. Or that I would sleep late on a Saturday and not end up hypoglycemic. Or that I would feel strikingly healthier and confidently safer two years later.
I felt otherwise changed.
It was startling to look in the mirror and still see me.