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[IP] Life (Before and After) My Year On a Pump

Recently I've celebrated my first year on a pump.  It really has been a
"rollercoaster experience" with a number of problems/obstacles along the way.
I hope some of "my story" will help convince others about pumping and help
with similar problems.

In early 2001 I went to see my Endo, I'd been having BG swings I couldn't work
out.  BGs would return to normal for a while, then days of Hypos / high BGs
would occur.  I had the "usual tests" (kidneys,eyes,heart, circulation), I was
told that as a T1 of 32 years "I was doing well".  Months passed: I'd had my
Insulin doses adjusted; tested for Thyroid / Hormone levels; reviewed my diet
with a Dietician (twice) ... nothing.  My health continued to deteriorate, I
lived with massive BG swings most of the time.  In May, I was sent for a
Gastric Emptying test for Gastroparesis.  My Endo told me "you know, after 25
years with Diabetes, 50% of all Diabetics have some form of nerve damage".

I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis, (nerve damage to the stomach) which caused
food to be digested erratically.  When the Insulin /food didn't "mesh" Hypos
and huge BG rises occured.  I was prescribed large doses of Erythromycin, as a
Motility agent.  My life continued to "fall apart".  I saw my Endo every three
weeks (I had email and Mobile phone contact for emergencies).  I recall:
mornings with BGs of 19 (342); 15 minutes exercise setting off massive hypos/
swings; being hospitalised with a BG of 29.4 (529) when the family had a
"Gastro" bug; huge BG swings across the day which left me exhausted.  I had
stopped working; studying and looking after my family (my husband became
almost a "single parent" with me still at home).  Occasionally I'd get a few
good days, I'd plan things with the kids, only to find days later I was too
ill (too high or too low) to participate.

One long weekend we went out for a walk to the beach, I Hypo'd at 2.4 (43),
which had swung to 24.3 (437) by evening.  The BG fluctuations across that
weekend and even across an hour were really frightening.  On Tuesday (urgent
appointment), I told my Endo "I couldn't live like this   ..... I would try
anything".  After telling me "he would arrange a Pancreas Transplant if he
could", my Dr asked if I would consider trialling an Insulin Pump ?  I went
home with a brochure about one of the pumps sold in Australia.  (My Endo said
he didn't have the experience to put me on a pump, but would find a
Hospital/Dr who could).

Weeks before, I had booked an appointment to see a Gastroparesis expert for a
second opinion.  "Cold calling" Hospitals across Sydney about Pumps, I
discovered that the Dr I was to see had people using pumps.  I waited the 2
weeks till my appointment.
As Prof Colaguiri suggested my options were: be considered for a Transplant or
trial an Insulin Pump.  Within weeks I had begun the Pump trial.  My
experience on the Pump over the first few weeks was pretty mixed.  Somedays my
control was amazing, other days BGs were eratic and my Infusions failed.  At
first, I put this down to inexperience / bad technique.  In Australia,
infusion sets are not covered by Health Insurance and I spent A LOT OF MONEY
wasting infusions sets as sites continued to fail.  I started to notice
redness around the Infusion sites and itching.  My record for an Infusion
failing was 1/2 a day !!  As the weeks progressed my Insulin needs were
increasing; I was waking at night scratching old Infusion sites and Bolus' had
started to sting / burn.  Researching the problem, others on IP told me about
their "Humalog problems" (no one else in Sydney I knew had problems with
Humalog).  My last day on Humalog had started with a BG of 6 (108) which rose
to 17 (306), my CDE advised disconnecting  the pump and returning to the
Hospital where they'd provide me NovoRapid /Novolog to try.

Within a week all the problems I had experienced on Humalog had ceased.  (The
first few nights my old Humalog sites still itched).  For the first time (on
NovoRapid) I really started to see what a difference the pump could make to
how I felt and how good my BGs could be.  It was WONDERFUL and lasted about 6
weeks  ...  then the itching started again.  However, this time it was a more
generalised itching across my body.  I went back to the Internet  ... IP /
Medical / Drug sites researching my problem.  Talking with my pharmacist and
researching drug reactions I found that Erythromycin could cause allergies ...
one symptom was generalised itching.  I stopped taking the Erythromycin and
over the next 2 weeks the itching ceased, unfortuneately the BG swings
returned.  I went back to As Prof Colagiuri asking for a new motility drug.
However, looking at my Basals he suggested a number of alterations, I left
with the new motility agent prescription, but agreed I' d readjust my Basals
and contact him in 3 weeks.  If the BGs weren't improved we'd discuss the
doses for the new motility drug.   The first week of Basal readjustments
didn't do much.   But reading "Pumping Insulin" again and talking with my CDE
we made larger / more dramatic Basal adjustments.  The three weeks went by and
then ... THINGS JUST WORKED !!.  I last took Erythromycin in February 2002, I
haven't used /needed Motility agents since.  I had been told that despite how
disabled I had become prior to the Pump, that my Gastroparesis was "mild".  It
was suggested that if my BGs could be reregulated with a pump, the
Gastroparesis may reverse.  I think I'm pretty close to that.

So ... a year on.  I'm well again.  Back working and hoping to return to my
studies shortly.  More importantly though, I can again plan and actually
participate in activites and outings with my family.  I still find it amazing
that I can adjust my Basals down (or take 50% of a Bolus) then exercise and
arrive back with a normal Glucose (the woman who vacuumed the house for 15
minutes and Hypo'd and "rollercoastered" for days).  I feel well and am no
longer permanently ill and exhausted.  No more 1.8 (32) to 25 (450)days;
emergency emails/phone calls; or overnight Emergency Hospital trips.  Basal
testing a week ago, I had a 1.2 (22) variation across 6 hours, "not bad" for
someone who'd told Prof Colaguiri they'd be happy if I could keep my BGs below
15 (270).  I have 10 basal settings across the day.  I rarely remove the pump,
even short periods without that 3 minute delivery of Insulin, causes big BG

I 've recieved a huge amount of support and assistance from IP and the many
Pumpers across the world (and in Australia) that I've spoken with.  Special
thanks goes to Michael, who helped me lobby pump companies to get the pump
with the features I needed in Australia.  (Where only MM 507,508 and
Disetronic Htrons are sold).  Whilst I trialled then leased a Disetronic
Htron, which I believe "saved my life", Disetronic would not provide the
Australian Distributor with a DTRON for me.  With Michaels' help I was able to
contact Audrey Finkelstein at ANIMAS.  With the wonderful support of Audrey,
Ilan David and Barbara Powrie I was able to purchase Animas Pumps.  (I'm the
first person in Australia to import an Animas).  So since June 2002, I've had
a number of multiple daily basals; extended Bolus' and am "waterproof" enough
to swim at the beach with my 10 year old son.  Thanks to ANIMAS I can take
part in all the usual activites that "normal parents" who live close to the
beach, take for granted !!  And of course much thanks goes to my medical team
at Prince of Wales, Randwick.  (As Prof Stephen Colaguiri and Linda Turner, my
educator who has provided endless support throughout my trials and

Who would have thought, that a year on, with a small Insulin Pump, that the
miracle of a good life and good health could be returned to me ?

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