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Posts from the ‘Pumping Insulin’ Category

Looking Back: Pizza (A Christmas Poem)

Getting into the holiday spirit?  Today I’m revisiting the ghosts of poems past with Pizza (A Christmas Poem).  Watch out for that pesky, fight-picking panc.

T’was the night before Christmas and all tinsel’s in,
Not a creature was stirring or making insulin.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that my islet cells soon would be there.
My children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of pizza boxes filled me with dread.
I took out my pen, assessed the amount
And settled my brain to complete the carb count.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I went with a fright
(And on the chair arm almost ripped out my pump site).
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Highlighted the … thing? there at rest down below.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a miniature Panc, looking all cavalier.
He looked like a corn cob, or maybe a penis.
I knew that he saw me, despite distance between us.

More rapid than eagles my insults they came,
As I whistled and shouted and called out his name.
“You stupid old pancreas! Where have you been?
It’s been 30 dumb years since I’ve seen you again.
From my childhood years to now raising my own,
Diabetes is the only life that I’ve known!
And now you waltz back, sitting there on my lawn
Expecting me to give hugs or to kiss or to fawn …”

But while I was ranting, the Panc, he just flew
Straight to the shed roof while I shouted, “Go screw!”
He stood there, so regal, and then, the rogue mutt,
He pulled down his pants and he showed me his butt.
And it became clear, as I fumed and I seethed,
That he came here to fight me, is what I believed.
So I steeled myself there, as the doorknob did rattle
And my pancreas came in my house to do battle.

He took out his betas, I whipped out a spoon
We stalked one another in my living room
His eyes, how they narrowed, his islets, how lazy!
(I was glad Chris was out ‘cause I’m sure this looked crazy.)
His droll little mouth was all knitted with rage
As he jabbed with his right, then drown dropped the steel cage.
It was just me and him, in a fight to the pain
“If you won’t make insulin, I’ll go full hurricane!”

We fought there for hours, just me and that thing,
I had a black eye and he pulled his hamstring.
Until finally – finally – I landed the punch
That sent the panc reeling and hurt a whole bunch.
While nursing his knee and cradling his arm,
My pancreas said, in efforts to disarm,
“You’ve bested me for decades, and I owe you a prize.
So grab that there pen and now open your eyes.
There’s a carb calculation, a quest for the ages,
And in minutes you’ll know it, so mark up those pages.
You’ve won, fair and square, and I owe you some solace.
So Kerri, here it is: the coveted Pizza Bolus.

He spat out some numbers and fine ratios
And I scrambled to write down his mathematical prose.
By the time he was done, our fight fences were mended.
I would remain the Lead Panc while his ass just pretended.
And he reached out his hand to shake, sealing the deal
I extended mine back, not knowing how to feel.
But I heard him exclaim, as he limped out of sight,
“You’ve won this round, Kerri. Enjoy pizza tonight!!”

 

But while I was ranting, the Panc, he just flew Straight to the shed roof while I shouted, “Go screw!” He stood there, so regal, and then, the rogue mutt, He pulled down his pants and he showed me his butt. Click To Tweet

Replacement Parts

This piece was written back in 2013 about a different insulin pump, but the song remains the same:  pumping insulin alleviates some of my diabetes mental load and makes living with this disease a little mellower.  I mean, I could “wash the dishes by hand,” but it’s so much nicer to play with my kids or go for a walk while the dishwasher runs.  

  *   *   *

Our dishwasher broke a week or two ago. It was pretty old (came with the house) and at that point where repair out-priced replacement, so my husband and I decided to head to a local appliance store to pick out a new dishwasher.

Quick and painless (except in the wallet department), we walked out thirty minutes later with the delivery and installation of our new dishwasher scheduled. And a week later, the old dishwasher was brought out to pasture (I like to think that they build robots out of old appliances), with the new one installed and whirring and washing, as advertised.

“Dude, that was too easy. Now I want to replace all of the appliances in this house that aren’t working 100% perfectly,” I said to Chris as we admired our new household addition.

Later that night, as I changed out my infusion set and primed my pump with insulin to last me another three days, I thought about my own replacement parts. On my hip was an appliance, for lack of a better word, that stood in as a replacement for my crapped out beta cells. The insulin-producing cells of my pancreas have been all-but dormant for the last twenty-seven years, forcing me to make synthetic insulin as part of my life, in order to sustain my life. For years, I took injections, which was the diabetes-equivalent of hand washing all my dishes.

Pumping insulin, for me, is the dishwasher of my diabetes. While it doesn’t do things “automatically” in that it’s not a closed-loop system, once I program it and connect it to my body, I don’t have to think about insulin for several days at a time. I bolus for meals and I correct blood sugars as needed, but for the most part, the pump sits on my hip and infuses insulin into my body throughout the day, without being reminded or poked or harassed. It’s simply another way to “wash the dishes,” so to speak, but it’s so much easier, and cleaner, and less intrusive in my life. Fewer needles against my skin, fewer moments when I worry about overnight blood sugars, fewer moments when I spend the morning hours with dawn phenomenon-elevated blood sugars. If such a thing as “dishpan hands” exists in diabetes management, the pump helps take that rub away.

“Did you seriously just compare your pump to a dishwasher?” my husband asked, laughing at me.

“Yep.”

“Your pump is worth like fifteen dishwashers, price-wise.”

It’s the most expensive replacement part I have ever encountered, but when I think about days of seven, eight … nine? injections per day just to achieve a baseline of “feeling fine,” I’m grateful that technology has progressed to this point. Diabetes technology now is so different than when I was first diagnosed, when at-home glucose meters were viewed as revolutionary.   While I know I can still “wash the dishes by hand,” my diabetes management is so much smoother, and more streamlined, with my pump.

The One About Animas.

[I have a disclosure about Tandem.  I had a previous disclosure about Animas.  Please read my disclosure page so you are aware of my bias.]

Yeah.  I know the news cycle is 15 seconds long now and many people have already moved past the fact that Animas is closing shop, but I heard about it while I was on vacation and haven’t had a chance to really process the news until recently.

Two years ago, there were six pumps to choose from:  Tandem, Animas, Medtronic, Insulet, Roche, and Asante.  Three of them are now gone.  (Also, rest in peace, Cozmo.)  With Animas exiting, Tandem, Insulet, and Medtronic are what remain in the US market.

This sucks for several reasons, but the main one for me is that diabetes is not a choice I made.  I am not a big fan of this disease, and taking insulin isn’t something I love doing.  However, I need insulin to survive, and pumping insulin results in better diabetes control for me.

When I was diagnosed, pumping wasn’t being pushed by my endo, as it was fairly new.  I went on my first insulin pump back in 2004 and it was a Medtronic 512 (smoke gray and reasonably badass for its time).  I used that for a few years, then switched to a silver Animas Ping and spent several years on their pump, then popped over to Tandem and have been t:slimming since.  All of these pumps made taking insulin easier, for me.  And each one of these pumps, I chose.

An insulin pump is an intimate device for people with diabetes.  It goes to school with them.  Goes to work.  Goes to bed.  This thing is literally by our side 24/7, so it needs to fit into our lives.  I remember choosing my first insulin pump and pouring through the brochures excitedly, as if I were picking out my first car.  Yay, the colors!  Yay, the tubing options!  Yay, the infusion sets!  Weird things to say Yay! about, but it was kind of nice to do some choosing when it came to diabetes.  Having a choice made me feel like I had a bit more control over this disease.  Can’t unchoose diabetes, but can choose the devices I use.  I appreciate that.

This whole Animas closing thing is rotten because people chose that pump.  That’s the pump they wanted to bring all over the place, the one they decided would fit into their life.  Having yet another choice removed/forced sucks, and I’m not sure what can be done to preserve the few choices we have left.

If you’re using Animas currently, you can switch to Medtronic but you shouldn’t feel forced into using Medtronic. Tandem and Insulet are options, even under UHC (although if you have UHC, it may require some paperwork/PITA hassle/moments when wine is necessary). Medtronic makes a product worth using, but it’s not the ONLY product worth using, and patient choice MATTERS.  Take some time to look at the remaining choices and make a decision that works well for you.

clicking the logo will take you to their Animas switch information

clicking the logo will take you to their Animas switch information

RIP, Animas.  Your pump saw me through my pregnancy with my daughter, and also through a handful of swim up bars – both scenarios are real life.  Thanks for making those life moments easier.

Tandem X2 with Dexcom G5 Update

[Please read my Tandem disclosure.  I was not asked to write this post.  But I need to disclose anyway, because it felt weird not to.]

Even though the update email came in a few days ago, I didn’t have a chance to update my Tandem X2 insulin pump until yesterday afternoon.  My original intentions were to sit down (preferably with a cup of tea and my reading glasses, so I could look the part of “focused” which would hopefully, in turn, become real focus) and update my pump in a relaxed environment, but that’s not a thing in my house anymore.  Every time I went to update the pump, the little Guy needed a snack or Birdzone wanted to play Spit (she kicks my butt regularly) or one of the neighborhood kids would roll through the house or the phone would ring or … the list of distractions remains long.

So I had to just sit down at the kitchen table and update the damn thing, house tornado be damned.

It was easy.  Thankfully, because I was only able to keep half an eyeball on the process as it unfolded.

The information I needed – my pump’s serial number and my “update ID number” – was in the email from Tandem Device Updater (if you’re looking for it in your inbox), so once I downloaded the device updater software to my computer, it took just a few minutes to update my pump.  I plugged my pump into the charger and then stuck the charger into the computer’s USB port, followed the prompts, and let my pump get pumpier.

The device updater

I knew the pump was ready to roll once this screen came up –
the update ID from the email went here.

Once the pump was plugged in, this screen popped up.

“Whoa, your pump updates like an iPhone?”  The 13 year old boy who lives down the street asked.

“It does,” I said, watching the blue progress line for the update move across my computer screen.

“That’s cool,” he said.

Truth.  My X2 now grabs Dexcom G5 results and shows them on the pump.  And I’m still learning the ropes with this new update.  In total, the update took about 15 minutes to work through.  I decided to wait until I was ready for a site change because in doing the update, I’d need to swap everything out anyway, and would also have my IOB set back to zero.

I have my iPhone running the G5 app in addition to the pump, and both appear to be working fine.  I was concerned about battery life after making the update, but since it’s been less than 24 hours since updating, I’ll have to come back to that at another time.


Updated!!

What was nice, though, is that my CGM was already up and running on my phone before I updated my pump, so when the update completed on my pump, the CGM results showed up immediately.  It didn’t seem like I had to independently calibrate my pump and my Dexcom phone app.  I’m rebooting my CGM sensor as I type this, so I’ll have a better sense of how this all works in a few hours.  In addition to CGM functionality and battery life, I’m really curious to see what the payment/update reimbursement structure will look like for future updates.  The G5 update was free.

The bottom line, for me, is that updates are available for my insulin pump that don’t require me to wait for a FedEx box to arrive before I can access them, and that’s damn convenient.  Having a pump that can be updated from my house while dinner is cooking (read: burning), kids are running amuck, and emails are dinging makes diabetes fit better into my life … in that I don’t have to organize my life around diabetes.

Pockets.

I’ve been wearing an insulin pump since 2004 and even though I take pump vacations or go untethered every now and again, I prefer pumping over injections because it’s just EASIER to avoid high blood sugars if I’m wearing a pump.

Yep.  That’s my jam.  It’s not the basal rate programming that I can do (although that’s a nice plus) and it’s not the carbohydrate calculations that my pump can whiz through (although that’s a nice plus, too) and it’s not even the fact that I can be super discreet when taking my insulin (a welcomed departure from going full Science Guy at the dinner table) … it’s the ease of correcting highs.

With injections, I cannot be bothered to draw up 0.3u of insulin to correct a 155 mg/dL back down to 100 mg/dL.  For some reason, that doesn’t seem “worth it.”  But on the pump, I’ll ding in those little doses to keep myself streamlined, and my A1C thanks me for it.

So diabetes reasons win when it comes to pumping. But sometimes getting dressed is a pain in the ass, making mashing up my wardrobe with my diabetes devices a  challenge.  Insulin pump squirreled away in my bra as a disco boob is not optimal all the time.  And dresses don’t present a lot of options outside of the bra …

Unless.  The dress.  HAS POCKETS.

I love dresses.  Love, love, love.  They are comfortable and not too sweaty gross and they are just lovely.  Love them.  And when the dress has a pocket, you can snip a little hole right in the top of the pocket, lace your pump tubing through the hole, and nest your pump safely and soundly into the pocket pouch.

Like these *:

  1. Women’s Lace Yoke Striped Knit Swing Dress
  2. Frondescent Fete A-Line Dress in Dusk Thicket
  3. Renewed Resplendence A-Line Dress in Ocean
  4. One-Shoulder Ponte Fit-and-Flare Dress
  5. Vila Shift Dress With Pockets
  6. Linen fit and flare dress
  7. Short-sleeved Jersey Dress
  8. Knee-length Dress
  9. Women’s Soybu Sleeveless Surplice Dress
  10. Pack Everywhere Dress

It’s kangarooing your pancreas, without going full marsupial.  And I am a fan.

(* And none of these links are affiliate links.  They are just links to the dresses because POCKETS and PUMPS and those two things should be teammates for sure.  Ooh, and here are 33 [larry bird] more dresses that have pockets.)

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