Pumping with 3 year old Will (now 4 - Spring 1999)
by Kathy Spain, Will's mom

Will Spain Hello, my name is Kathy Spain and I would like to share with you our son Will's story. I have 4 children, all born in a 5 year span of time. When our youngest child, Will, was two we finally felt like life was getting a bit easier. Unfortunately, God had other plans for us. In February of 1997 Will was diagnosed with diabetes.

The first 1 1/2 years after Will was diagnosed were difficult ones. I am an RN and know full well the debilitating consequences of poorly controlled diabetes and vowed to do everything in my power to keep Will well controlled. This required frequent fingersticks, often 10-12 a day, and multiple injections a day. Will often had low blood sugars despite my diligent checking. Three times, all in the middle of the night, he began jerking his extremities, the beginning of a seizure.

Small children are very inconsistent in their eating patterns. This made it very difficult to decide how much insulin to give at each injection. Often times I would have to force him to eat so he wouldn't go low or tell him he couldn't have any more food to prevent a high.

Finally, I convinced our doctor to let us try a pump. Our doctor uses pumps with teenagers but had never tried a toddler on one. I spent hours reading, and talking with others and was convinced we could do it.

To make a long story short, the pump has been the best thing to ever happen to us since Will was diagnosed. We received the pump in June of 1998 when Will was 3 years old, and have lowered his HbA1c down to 6.3! Will's average blood sugar is 150-160. Rarely does he experience lows, and even when he does they are not very severe. Highs can readily be lowered as well.

Probably the best part about the pump is the flexibility it gives us. Meals no longer have to be at a set time and he can even sleep in late in the mornings. If he decides to be a picky eater it no longer matters since I only give him the amount of insulin necessary to cover the food he eats. Now if he wants a snack he can have one, I simply push the buttons on the pump and give him extra insulin to cover it.

I wish I could say that there are no negative things about the pump, however the positives do definitly out weigh the negatives. Will is very afraid of needles which is a bummer for a diabetic. Inserting the pump is very traumatic for him, however we only change it every three days, much better than 4-5 shots a day like before.

There are other disadvantages to the pump as well. Will has had one infection, he sometimes has skin allergies to the tape and a couple times has accidently pulled out the infusion set. Although we have good insurance the pump does cost more than shot therapy. As I said earlier however, I want my child to grow up without complications, and the only way that is going to happen is to keep him in tight control. The pump is the closest thing we have at the present time to a healthy pancreas and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

In summary, I would like to encourage all parents of diabetic children to consider trying a pump, regardless of their age. I would be happy to talk to anyone who has questions. I am presently changing from being a critical care nurse to a diabetic educator and enjoy hearing from other parents. Every child is a special gift from God and deserve every chance possible to grow up healthy.

Kathy Spain

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.