Six years ago, during my freshman year of college, I made the decision to take what I like to call a “pumpcation”. Understand here that I was pretty much raised on an insulin pump. My mom pushed to make me one of the first young kids in my state on a pump a long, long time ago. But freshman year, I started to hate it.
I didn’t like wearing medical devices and frankly, I was burned out on it all. My doctor – who also happens to be a world leader in working with new diabetes technology– encouraged me to make the change to injections. It took effort on both my and my endocrinologist’s end, but we made it work. I was much happier and my management drastically improved.
Life got better. My A1c went down, and I was less at war with my diabetes.
Flash forward to a few months ago. I was at the Friends for Life conference in Falls Church, Virginia volunteering at a booth for a friend, but was able to walk around and check out the other booths. I spoke with the Tandem sales rep for quite a while and even met her daughter who uses the t:slim pump. It had been so long since I had been on a pump, I had no idea how small and advanced they had gotten in the six years since I went off of mine.
Something registered in my brain. I knew I was growing tired of life on injections. Carting around pens, taking shots all the time was getting old. I was feeling the burden of diabetes again in a way that I feared would be detrimental to my health. I had injection burn-out.
I spent a lot of time talking to different friends in the diabetes community. Every single person seemed to love the amount of control their pump provided. A big issue that I struggle with is the dawn phenomenon which causes high blood sugar in the mornings. Being able to program basal rates could pretty easily fix this option.
I shared these thoughts to my endocrinologist and he affirmed what I was thinking: maybe it was time for a change. Six years is a long time. We agreed that mixing up the method of my management would be the best way to get me refocused and would help solve some of the issues that I faced.
After consulting with many pumpers. I made the decision to go on the Tandem t:slim pump. The t:slim G4 integrates Dexcom’s G4 Platinum continuous glucose monitor right onto the home screen. And I really liked the idea of having my CGM data and insulin pump as an all in one device.
Now I am about two months back into pumping and I know that this change was the right one. After such a long break from insulin pumps I’d forgotten how much there is to appreciate, like being able to just put the number of carbohydrates and what my blood sugar is into the device and let the bolus wizard do all of the work for me. I forgot how nice it is to be able to adjust my basal rate so I don’t have to feel groggy from dawn phenomenon anymore. I forgot how nice it is to not have to track down my insulin pen anytime I want to eat something.
I believe that there are a lot of lessons to be learned from my pumpcation. The biggest one is this: When you feel like you need a change, talk to your health care provider about making it. Will there be another time in my life when I’m tired of wearing medical equipment? Probably. But now I know that I have made it work for me on both injections and a pump. And in the meantime, I am extremely happy on my pump and feel like a “diabetes wizard” with how well I feel I have been managing myself. But that’s also exactly how I felt six years ago when I switched to injections. The moral of the story is that we all have to find the best way to manage diabetes, and we are so lucky to live in a time that offers choices.