After the big build up — at least in our own minds — of starting on the pump…. we love it (as much as you can love anything foisted on you by type 1 diabetes). We love how easy it is to give Bisi insulin, and how exact the doses can be. We love being able to correct her at night when she’s only a bit above her target, whereas before we were not supposed to correct her if she was below 250. We love how much more seamless the whole process is. Before it was test Bisi’s blood sugar, enter the BG and carbs into the app on one of our iPhones to calculate the necessary insulin, get out the insulin pen, and give her a shot. Now, it’s test her blood sugar with her Omnipod PDM, enter the carbs into the PDM so it can calculate her dose, press a couple of buttons, and we’re done. It may not seem like much of a difference. It may just save us 45 seconds or a minute at each meal. But add those minutes up over the days, weeks, and months, and it will turn out to be quite a bit of saved time and hassle.
I had gotten used to pulling the insulin pen out at a restaurant or at a park and giving Bisi a shot while others looked on, but still, it’s appealing how much more subtle you can be with the pump. It used to be that when Bisi was, say, gathered with friends after a soccer game eating orange slices or a popsicle, I would have to pull her aside to give her a shot, or decide that we’d let her go high and give her the shot later. But the other day after her soccer game I was able to go up to her and give her a dose without even interrupting her conversation.
Of course, there’s the flip side with the pump that, because it’s something stuck to her body, it permanently marks her as having diabetes in a way that getting shots does not. With shots, except right before she eats or when she’s getting her BG tested, no one would ever know that Bisi has diabetes. But with the pump (combined with the fact that Bisi likes to wear form-fitting leggings), you can almost always see the little bump of the pod through her clothes. The other day at gymnastics Bisi had the pump on her thigh, with no tights or shorts. At dinner that night, she said all the girls in her class were asking what it was for, but she didn’t want to tell them. We all started suggesting things she could say: “Why don’t you tell them you’re a robot?” “You should tell them that’s where you keep your magical powers!” “Tell them it’s a medical device that shoots sparks if you ask questions about it.” Bisi laughed. But in the end we decided that rather than using one of these very sensible explanations, on gymnastics days we would just make sure to put her pod in a place that would be covered by her leotard. (A doctor with a son who has diabetes told me that it’s important—particularly with girls—to get them to wear a pump before they hit adolescence. It can be very hard to get a teenage girl to start putting what’s essentially a piece of machinery on her body. By this logic, we should get Bisi started on a CGM while she’s still a comfortable distance away from the teenage years.)
Despite the unwanted questions, Bisi is completely thrilled with the pump, and how it has freed her from multiple injections a day. At a pump appointment the other day, her nurse asked her what she liked better about the pump. “EVERYTHING!!” she shouted, raising both fists over her head in excitement. I know that the excitement will fade, but I hope that her acceptance of and satisfaction with the pump as a way of life will remain.