Pumping with Kayla

After two days on the pump, my happy, energetic child is back!
by Kasey Sikes

December 2, 1996 is the day my daughter lost her freedom to diabetes. Kayla was three years old when she was diagnosed. Bright for her age, she soon comprehended that the shots and finger pokes were not going to "go away" as she had so hoped. While still in the hospital after diagnosis, she asked me tearfully, "Mommy, will I have to take shots in Heaven?" I knew then that there had to be a better way to treat this disease.

Kayla eventually resigned herself to the shots, but never regained the cheerfulness that she had before diagnosis. If ever a 3 year old could be depressed, Kayla was. The rollercoaster blood sugars only made her feel worse. She would swing from 30 to 500 in a matter of hours. No matter what we tried, her numbers just wouldn't stay in that target range of 80 - 180. We gave a cheer if she managed a whole day without a bad low or high.

Trying to keep a three year old on a rigid schedule of eating at the same time, sleeping the same hours, exercising the same amount and at the same time, day in and day out was impossible. Toddlers are spontaneous, yet MDI demands inflexibility. We were constantly chasing those high blood sugars or begging Kayla to "just eat one more bite" to cover that injection of insulin to prevent a low.

About eight months after diagnosis, Kayla started having unexplained bouts of vomiting every two to three weeks. Most of the time we were able to keep her blood sugar levels up and the ketones down, but sometimes, no matter what we tried, her diabetes got the best of us. Within a three month period, Kayla ended up in the ER twice and had to be admitted to the hospital twice. She spent her 5th birthday in the hospital. That was when we decided that enough was enough. Kayla was going to be put on an insulin pump.

Luckily we use an endocrinologist that is very pro-pump. Once we convinced him that we were committed to pump therapy, he agreed to put Kayla on the pump. After a year and a half of dreary days on MDI, Kayla started insulin pump therapy on June 1, 1998 and her freedom was restored. After just two days on the pump, my happy, energetic child, that I had lost a year and half earlier, was back.

While pump therapy requires a lot of time and attention, it's worth it. Yes we have to count carbs, calculate boluses, and measure everything, but we no longer are tied to the clock. Kayla can sleep in on weekends, eat a poptart for breakfast, and join the other kids when the ice cream truck comes through the neighborhood. But the best part for us has been during the vomiting episodes. They still come and go and we've been able to keep Kayla out of the hospital. She recently spent 3 whole days in bed without eating during an illness; just sips of water to keep her hydrated. That would never have been possible on MDI. We just increased her basal rate a bit to eliminate the ketones and she was fine.

Pump therapy is not for everyone. It requires a dedication to frequent blood sugar testing, monitoring the basals and boluses to spot needed changes, and the infusion set changes can be intimidating. But for a parent committed to the best possible care for their child with diabetes, there is no better treatment than insulin pump therapy. It gives freedom and spontaneity back to the entire family. It cuts down on the wide blood sugar swings prevalent on MDI. It makes managing illnesses easier. And most importantly, it improves blood sugar control and reduces the risks of long-term diabetes complications.

I am a vocal advocate for insulin pump therapy for kids. If you would like more information about children and the pump, please e-mail me at

Kasey Sikes

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.