What a wonderful change the pump has been for us.

- by Cheri McCurdy

Amelia and her doctor have one thing in common they both have insulin pumps!

Amelia McCurdy My Amelia is a beautiful, independent, fun loving, full of life, bright and active 8 year old. Amelia was rarely sick. What a shock it was to take her to the doctor for what I believed to be a bladder infection and have her diagnosed with Diabetes-type 1. I knew of people with diabetes and what I had witnessed was terrible. We left within an hour of her diagnosis for a large children's hospital which was 3 hours away. I was sure that this was all a mistake. The tests were wrong. My child couldn't be sick, things like this just couldn't happen to our family. Boy, did we have a lot to learn. We learned it, as a family. We lived it, as a family

The insulin shot therapy schedule was grueling, especially for this very busy family! Amelia's older sister, then 12 years old, was very supportive but only Mom and Dad could give shots. While at work, I would watch the clock, worried that a missed snack or too much activity would result in a low. I would leave work at lunch to give her shots, arriving at school and finding her sitting alone in her classroom, waiting for a shot so she could eat. The other kids were already on their way to recess. She brought home snacks children had brought and we planned them into dinner. It broke my heart to see her hop off the bus carrying big birthday cupcakes with extra frosting or finding treats stuffed into her book bag. She was so good to obey the rules. Amelia hit her target often in the beginning, but as we progressed through the "honeymoon stage" she rarely was able to have control over the diabetes dragon. Amelia was moody, tired of snacking, tired of not being able to sleep in, tired of needles, tired of diabetes and it hadn't even been a year since her diagnoses.

In July, we attended Family Diabetes Camp and met a 7 year old that was wearing a pump. I asked her mother so many questions and all of her answers were very positive towards pump therapy. Danika and Amelia became pen pals-something I highly recommend, as it has been wonderful for them!

So, I researched and read everything I could on pump therapy. I rehearsed what I would say to her doctor to convince him to put Amelia, just 7, on an insulin pump. Her doctor, being diabetic himself, had been on a pump for about a year and was very supportive of her using the pump! He applauded Amelia for her progress and praised us as a family for our willingness to help her. So, Amelia was diagnosed on January 13 of 2000 and received her pump on December 11, 2000. What an emotional year it was for our family.

What a wonderful change the pump has been for us. Amelia has control over her own life once more. Mood swings are less frequent. If she is high, she can give herself insulin without an injection. We have so much less scheduling and so much more freedom. Amelia's first A1C on the pump was 7.3. Much better! On our way home from the hospital we stopped at a convenience store and I asked Amelia what she would like to snack on? jerky? I explained to her that she could have anything in the whole store (within reason, of course!) and she instantly sat up and said, "Wow, let's get a candy bar!" I asked her to look up the carbs and tell me what she needed to bolus. It took her about 5 seconds to figure that out! What a relief!

We never experienced a sick day while she was taking shots, but we have experienced several while on the pump and it actually went rather smooth. No lows, highs were easy to control. She could eat or not eat.

She is counting carbohydrates quite well and is a wiz at math, which makes it so much easier for her and for us! Site changes were hard but we learned to change the site about 20 minutes after she goes to sleep and she sleeps through most of them! I only have to poke her once every two days instead of 4-5 times daily. She doesn't mind the finger pokes which she does willingly by herself. There have been a few problems with the pump. Her site occasionally blocks off, or her tubing breaks. Once, the cat chewed it in half! We had a few adjustments in how and where to put it. Oh, and let me tell you that the pump is very durable! I was very worried about such an expensive piece of equipment in her possession! Amelia has put it to the test and it is very tough - it bounces!

Amelia is willing to explain to people what diabetes is all about and the children accept it and her pump very well. Her pump allows freedom at class parties, family dinners, impulse snacks or even not eating if you don't want to! If I was to have one wish granted, it would be for a cure for diabetes-an easy cure that would relieve the burden put on the thousands of people with diabetes. But until that cure comes, pump therapy is the relief that Amelia needed.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Cheri McCurdy

If you have a child with diabetes and would like to talk to other parents about the Insulin Pump, please contact or visit the Insulin-Pumpers website.