“I’m going to change my pump really quickly while you’re finishing up in the tub,” I said to Birdy after rinsing the shampoo out of her hair. “Is that cool?”
“Yeah,” she replied, grabbing a toy whale, plastic dinosaur, and Han Solo figurine out of the bath toy bin. “That’s cool.”
“Glad I have your approval, Birdzone.”
I took a new infusion set, a bottle of insulin, and a reservoir out of the medicine cabinet and lined them up on the bathroom counter. Changing out an infusion set is a methodical moment for me. I do things in the same order almost every time: remove old set from my body so I can enjoy the “connected to nothing” feeling for as long as possible, rewind the pump, fill up the reservoir, connect the tubing to the reservoir, insert the cartridge into the pump, prime the pump, find a spot on my body that’s not feeling vulnerable or tender, hold the insertion device against my skin for a few seconds before deploying the buttons because one does not simply insert cannula, and then shunk the set is deployed and whoosh I’m infusion insulin.
It’s a process that, for me, has become routine and commonplace. Nothing about it strikes me as odd because it’s my normal.
But my daughter is still learning about the subtleties of her mom’s diabetes. She knows I wear a pump, and she knows that my pump gives me insulin, but the mechanics of how it all works are not things we’ve had sit down discussions about. She picks things up as we go.
Recently, she learned that the infusion set is connected to a plastic cannula that goes underneath my skin.
“Whoa Mom what are you doing WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!!!” She watched the cannula slide out of my abdomen as I removed the old site. “Why are you – WHAT is that?” She pointed.
“This? This was the pump tube going into my body. Now it’s out, and I’ll set up the whole thing and put a new one in.”
“That goes INSIDE your skin?”
“Yes. That round, blue thing with the pump tubing attached to it? That puts the plastic needle under my skin. And it stays there until I take it out and move it around,” I said, tossing the used infusion set into the garbage next to the sink.
She leaned out of the bathtub to inspect my former site. “Okay. I didn’t know it was a shot. Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes for a minute, after I put the needle in. But then it’s fine and I don’t feel it.”
“I had no idea,” she said, sounding less like my child and more like my grandmother. “I just didn’t know.”
I gave her a hug. “It’s okay. It doesn’t bother me. I promise.”
She looked at me contemplatively, and I expected her to start quizzing me about diabetes, or needles, or asking if she would get diabetes when she grows up, like she often asks. She’s wise for her age, and endlessly inquisitive. I braced myself for the most serious, the most intense questions she could muster.
But instead: “Did you just get wet, because I’m wet from the tubby?”
I noticed that my shirt was now soaked. “I did.”
(this post was originally published as part my work with Animas)