YOU SHOULD BE PUMPING ?

Six year old Lauren wakes up happy again! 7-10-02
by Karen Ostrowski Kmostrowski@juno.com

Lauren Ostrowski, 6 yo old pumper

Lauren has been pumping for just a month, and the only thing she would trade her pump for is a cure. Diabetes is no longer the focus of everything, and everyone in the family is happier.

Lauren was diagnosed with diabetes a month before she turned five. When our child was diagnosed with diabetes, our whole world changed. There were so many things we could no longer take for granted about our child’s life. I tried to learn everything I could to help improve her control and her quality of life. We weighed and measured all her food, injected 3 or 4 shots a day, kept Lauren on the recommended strict eating regimen, checked her blood sugar 8-10 times a day, and faxed or emailed blood glucose records to our endo frequently. While on shots, her HbA1C ranged from 8.3 to 9.0 and her daily glucose values swung from 40’s to 400’s and back again. She could wake up at 70 or 370, and no insulin or food change seemed to help. On shots, it was obvious that Lauren felt lousy most of the time. I think the consistently high blood sugar and the wildly fluctuating blood sugar made it difficult for her to cope with anything. She was unhappy getting up in the morning because she knew that waking up meant getting a shot and then eating, even though all she wanted to do was read a book or play. I was frustrated because I felt I was doing everything I could, Lauren had little dietary freedom, and still her numbers were all over the place. I did not believe that all these high glucose values were not doing damage to her body. At every visit with her endo, I asked about an insulin pump. I trusted that the doctor knew best when she said she would consider a pump for Lauren only when she was old enough to manage the pump on her own, at least age 10. Her reasons included that Lauren could not troubleshoot the pump on her own at school or at a friend’ house, it would be more difficult to go anywhere without a parent along, and it wouldn't allow her the opportunity to “orget about diabetes if she was wearing a pump all the time. Now that we are pumping, in retrospect I can see that those are reasons for getting a pump. At six years old, Lauren can run her pump well, but she knows to verify a bolus with an adult first. At five, she was doing her own injections, but with three types of insulin, it was going to be a long time until she could draw up those shots. Pressing buttons on a pump is less intimidating than drawing up a syringe and with only short acting insulin working, figuring insulin doses is simple math now. Other adults can take over her care for a day easier with a pump than on shots. It's easier for her to go somewhere without me now. As for “forgetting” about diabetes, I don’t think Lauren truly “forgets” about it, shots or pumping. However, she wears her pump without complaints and it is part of her. She has diabetes, and her pump helps her manage it better. It's as simple as that. The pump doesn't limit her activities in any way, but the rigid schedule she had to follow on shots was oppressive.

On shots, diabetes had taken control of so much in our family. Too often, I had to interrupt Lauren while she was coloring, doing a puzzle or playing with friends, just so she could eat a snack that she wasn't even hungry for. Many times when all she really needed was sleep, she had to be kept awake at bedtime to eat another snack or awakened in the morning for insulin and breakfast. At dinner, Lauren would ask for more food, and my response had to be that she could choose either to wait two hours until bedtime snack or take another shot if she wanted more food right away. Food became too much of an issue. Lauren's four year old sister, Megan, asked me one morning, "Mom, I’m hungry. Can we check Lauren's blood sugar?" Because we ate dinner so early to fit in the bedtime snack, the whole family rarely ate together anymore. Trying to eat at a restaurant or at someone else’s house was extremely difficult. Either Lauren's blood sugars suffered or everyone had to eat according to her schedule.

When we went to a family day at a diabetes camp, Lauren saw lots of the kids and counselors there wearing pumps. I noticed that many parents were talking about their kids, who were younger than 10, starting on pumps. When Lauren heard from a camp counselor that pumping means you only have a needle insertion once every three days instead of three or more shots a day, she wanted a pump ASAP! I realized that pumping was the best thing for Lauren and for the rest of our family, and I knew we needed to find a way to get her pumping. We switched endos, and found a new CDE. From that family camp to our pump start was several months. The uncertainty of that time, not knowing how we would find a diabetes care team that would put her on a pump, was more stressful than her pump start.

Lauren is happier now that she is pumping. She wakes up happy and we no longer schedule our lives around shots, food, and peaking times of insulin. Raising kids can be tough enough at times. Don't let diabetes have control. Lauren still has diabetes, and it's still work to maintain healthy numbers for her, but it's unbelievably easier on a pump and she has so much more flexibility and freedom. Her HbA1C has improved, but the improvement in her quality of life is immeasurable.

Karen Ostrowski Kmostrowski@juno.com


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