Pumping in Ireland with 1 year old Ben
by Carol O'Neil

1 yo. Ben Ben was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on the 3rd of August 2004 at the age of 7 months. He had been ill for a few days and was drinking lots. When he began throwing up we took him to our doctor who thought it was just a tummy bug. However the vomiting continued so we sought a second opinion who agreed with the first and told us to go home and give him 7up!!! Needless to say the next day Ben was much worse and his breathing was very erratic and shallow. We rushed him straight to Casualty where he was diagnosed within a matter of minutes and rushed to I.C.U. He spent a few days there until they got his blood sugar under control and was then transferred to the childrens ward.

A week later Ben contracted the Rotavirus from the ward and became extremely ill. He was vomiting and had chronic diarrhoea. His blood sugars were crazy again. He was so little that the doctors had to put an I.V. in his scalp because the veins in his wrists and ankles had collapsed. Eventually he recoverd but he had spent 4 weeks in hospital before we finally got to take him home.

At home things were no better. His sugar levels were unpredictable, his injection sites were sore and bruised and his appearance was very gaunt. We were devastated. It was very hard to look at Ben having to go through all this before he had even reached the age of 1. It seemed like a never-ending nightmare..... until we discovered the insulin pump! We live in Ireland and the pump is not common practise here so our doctor hadn't mentioned it to us. But when we heard about it, we thought it could be the answer to our prayers. We asked our doctor and he agreed to put us on the waiting list. We went through weeks of intensive training and used a saline in a pump at home to get used to it. Ben started using a Minimed insulin pump in February 2005. It has completely transformed his life and ours. His blood glucose levels have been excellent and his Hba1c is perfect. He still has highs and lows but not a fraction of the what he used to have. His attitude has changed too. He is much more outgoing and adventurous. He has a huge appetite and now he can indulge in a wider variety of foods than before which is wonderful. He doesn't mind the pump at all and rarely takes any notice of it. He is a very happy, healthy little boy and we owe it all to the pump. I have no doubt that if Ben wasn't pumping he would still be a very sick, unhappy toddler.

I wish that the insulin pump could be made available to more children with diabetes, especially here in Ireland. I have met parents of diabetic children who have never even heard of the pump and are accepting injections as the best type of management. It is unfair to the children and to the parents. Administering injections is very hard work and all consuming. It is my hope that soon information on the insulin pump will be offered to all those who need it. It is only fair that these precious children are given the best opportunities possible to improve their already difficult lives.

Ben will be two years old in December. He is our little hero.

Carol O' Neill

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.