When you wear something every, single day, you notice every, single bit of it. I’ve been wearing this pump for four years and I know the lines of it by heart. (I remember the day that I switched from Medtronic to Animas and even those similarly-structured insulin pumps felt entirely different to me in weight, curve, and especially clip. As I wrote in my Animas Vibe initial review, change can be awkward.)
Two weeks ago, I dropped my insulin pump on the bathroom floor. It survived the fall, but happened to fall just so and smashed the edge of the battery cap the teeniest bit. See? (Ignore the hard knocks look of my pump overall. I’m tough on this thing.)
Okay, so maybe it’s not obvious (I can barely see it myself, even when it’s pointed out to my eyeballs), but my hip knew instantly. The jagged catch on the battery cap bit into my skin all day long and drove me bananas. (The photo is not accurate as far as how the chip lined up with my skin. The battery cap pictured is not screwed tightly onto the pump. When it’s on right, the chip faces my body.)
“Do you feel this?” I asked Chris, running his finger over the edge of the battery cap. “That teeny chip? It’s making me crazy.”
“You can feel that?” he asked, surprised.
“I can. I’m like the Princess and the Pea of insulin pumps.” (That would make for an excessively long fairy tale title.)
The point of this post? To illustrate how fully integrated these devices become into our lives, where we notice even the most seemingly insignificant blip. And to also note how awesome it is when your local pump rep just happens to have a replacement battery cap in the trunk of her car.
Changing out an insulin pump infusion set is a methodical moment for me. I do things in the same order almost every time, with the same mildly frenetic mindset.
- Remove old set from my body so I can enjoy the “connected to nothing” feeling for as long as possible.
- Take out a new infusion set and new reservoir.
- Ferret out the open bottle of insulin from wherever I’ve stashed it last in the bathroom. (Usually it’s in the medicine cabinet, but during the hotter months of summer, I tend to keep it in our bedroom, where it’s cooler.)
- Line the insulin set, reservoir, and bottle up on the counter.
- Unscrew the reservoir cap and remove the old infusion set and reservoir from the pump. Throw the tangle of tubing into the garbage, making sure said tangle doesn’t dangle over the edge of the garbage can because otherwise Loopy and Siah will find it and drag it all over the house.
- Open the packaging for the reservoir and take out all the little parts (except that one frigging thing that I don’t know what it’s for and I usually throw it right into the garbage – see below):
- Rewind the pump.
- This is the point where I mentally set some kind of timer, challenging myself to race against the time it takes for the pump to rewind. While the pump is whirring, I rush to fill up the reservoir and connect it to the tubing. I do this every, single time. It’s as satisfyingly ritualistic as shaking the bottle of test strips before I check my blood sugar.
- Thread the tubing through the battery cap and connect the luer lock, then insert the cartridge into the pump.
- Load the new cartridge.
- Prime the cartridge, trying to stop the prime before more than a single drop of insulin escapes from the needle in the infusion set.
- Hold the tubing up to the light and inspect it for bubbles.
- After the pump is primed, again the mental timer is set. This time, the challenge is to unpeel the sticky backing from the infusion set and find a place on my body that’s suitable for insertion before the screen on my pump goes blank from inactivity.
- Insert the new infusion set, prime the cannula (sort of holding my breath while it primes because I’m never certain that the first introduction of insulin won’t burn under my skin).
- Tuck the tubing out of sight and clip the pump to my clothes.
- Fin. (As in “the end.” There’s no marine life actively involved in this process.)
This process takes less than two minutes to complete, but if it’s interrupted in any way, I’m thrown so far off course that it takes me five minutes to recover. The method of this madness is that it’s one, fluid mental movement and any upset to the process makes my brain disengage to seek the comfort of something shiny.
It’s an intricate process involving several steps, precision handling, and the safe housing a powerful drug. And if I have to change the battery at the same time …
I feel like the beginning of Diabetes Blog Week had so many prompts that really tapped the emotionally-saturated side of my diabetes management that I’m spent. But I didn’t want to phone it in today for the last weekday post, so I’m pulling myself up by the bloggy bootstraps and putting my hacker hat on. (Damn, Gina – that sounds like a complicated metaphorical outfit.)
For today’s blog post, centered on diabetes life-hacks, here’s a compilation of “sum” (OH HA?) diabetes hacks from the past:
I like “diabetes life hacks” because they make it easier, and more streamlined, to actually live with diabetes without succumbing to all the rules. I don’t want to work my life around my diabetes; I’d much rather work diabetes around my life.
But the ultimate diabetes hack, IMO? Is from Dana and Scott, who are creating their own do-it-yourself-pancreas system. Necessity is the mother of invention, for real when it comes to life with diabetes.
Don’t mind me …
… I’ll just be sitting here with 1 unit of Humalog left in my pump because I went to bed with 9 units left and tried to use my insulin to the very last drop. I’ll let my dawn phenomenon-induced morning basal rate suck up the rest of this cartridge before swapping it out for a full one. Insulin isn’t something I take for granted. It’s precious stuff.