YOU SHOULD BE PUMPING ?

PUMPING WITH MELISSA

So What's So Great About the Pump Anyway?...

October, 1997 - Renee Bernett Rmhb1126@aol.com

Melissa's picture After 3 years of micro-managing my then 12 1/2 year old daughter's diabetes, I was more than a little resistant when SHE first mentioned getting an insulin pump. The endocrinologists at Philadelphia's Children's Hospital felt it wasn't viable for kids under 16 or 17, and candidly I worried how she'd deal with the insensitive comments from other kids- but she stubbornly persisted...

In late February 1996, her Minimed 506 arrived & Melissa immediately studied the video and manual; so that by the time she was actually started on it in mid-March, she was already an expert!! The mechanics of it are ridiculously easy for a computer-literate teen-ager!

The first benefit Melissa noticed was the elimination of the requisite bedtime snack. Although her friends thought it was "cool" that she got to have Snackwell's mini-chocolate chip cookies(13 to be precise) & milk before bed - NOTHING is "cool" when you HAVE to do it. And since Melissa loves to sleep, I often found myself forced to awaken her to eat if she'd dozed off

The next benefit was NOT having to frequent bathroom stalls for our "juggling" act of mixing an injection of R and NPH when we went out to a restaurant. I was sure either the insulin bottles or the meter or the needle was going to fall in the toilet! The first time she just slipped her pump out of her pocket (which is where she usually keeps it) & pressed the buttons, I felt a tremendous weight was lifted off of ME! Of course, the advent of the Novolin pen has somewhat eased that problem, but not entirely....

Added to that ever-expanding list of benefits was the freedom to go home after school with friends & "pig-out" as opposed to those early days where she'd come home from school inexplicably high & have to watch her older sister eating ice cream while her endocrinologist expected her to be content with a celery stick & diet coke! .....And the diminished anxiety level for me & my husband if she slept over a friend's house & the parents "forgot" to awaken them before noon. Instead of being in the high 200s she'd stay in the low 100s whether she got up at 8:00, 10:00 or noon! WOW!!!!!...... And the virtual elimination of the frustration/guilt attendant with those high readings that are so pervasive with prepubescent girls....because even if she DID go high, the availability of bolusing WHENEVER needed to immediately correct a high meant a shorter duration of being so high, waiting for the next shot..

Because checking is nowadays usually just a means of corroborating proper self-management & trouble-shooting, Melissa actually checks much more frequently because it's no longer the depressing, punitive experience it often was pre-pump!!! I loved being able to predict where she would be (blood glucose) when she woke up & actually being fairly accurate....

And let's not forget that her total insulin consumption was about 65 units per day on 4 shots & now it's around 40 units per day. Although she initially changed her infusion set every 48 hours, she's now using the Comfort sets (also called Tenders) made by Chronimed which come in 2 sections- so she fills her syringe with 300 units on Saturdays & changes just the needle/catheter small section mid-week. It's an easier schedule for both of us to remember & so far it works. Of course, if there are several unexplained consecutive highs, she knows to change-out her infusion set regardless of the "scheduled changes."

Sometimes, being 14, she does get tired of having to "accomodate" her pump as far as clothing, sports, etc. but she wouldn't go back to the INFLEXIBILITY & RIGIDITY of scheduled shots for all the Juicy Pear flavored Jelly-Bellies in the world!! (well..let me think about that..nah!!) And she DID buy bikinis this summer & with the flatter Confort sets, after disconnecting, there really was nothing to indicate she had a pump....

Sadly, though, we too were disheartened to encounter such opposition and inexperience from the pediatric endocrinology community and finally left her original doctor & had to beg an adult diabetologist (with much more pump familiarity) to take her on as a new patient...

Yes, it hasn't been a totally smooth road..she DID get a site infection in the first 2 months (probably because she sneezed on her hands & then inserted the needle) which hasn't happened since....And we DID pay a visit to the E.R. because we thought she was going into DKA...but that hasn't recurred either because we now know that we're better informed than the E.R. personnel about pumps & know how to intercede at the first sign of a problem....

Could I continue writing for 2 more pages - without a doubt! But I won't..I'll just conclude by agreeing 100 % with Lily's dad that I couldn't imagine parenting a teen with diabetes who WASN'T on a pump what with all the spur-of-the-moment changes that being a teen-ager means...And lastly, that 8.8 A1C pre-pump 18 months ago was most recently measured at 6.5.....That says it all!!!!!.....


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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