Injecting Insulin: Liberating, Painful, And Not For Me

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It’s been over a week since I ripped out my infusion set and decided it was time for a break from my insulin pump. It wasn’t a rational decision, but rather one based mainly on frustration – an inability to keep my blood sugar down.  Even more frustrating: going back on insulin shots did not solve my blood sugar issues. Basically, all it did was make me think a little about life with diabetes and the emotional burden that comes with it.

The first couple of days off the pump I felt naked, like a soldier who’s lost his gun. I kept reaching for my pump every time I checked my blood sugar (to record my result) and every time I wanted to know what the time was. (I like to think of my pump as a pocket watch.) Without realizing it, my insulin pump became a part of me, part of my mannerisms. I wasn’t sure I liked how attached I had become to my pump.

I also felt like I needed my pump to calculate my insulin doses. It had been so long since I injected insulin that I had no clue how much insulin I need when I eat. Not only because injected insulin is less effective than pumped insulin (need less with a pump) but also because I’ve gotten so used to the pump thinking for me, advising how much to inject with my meal and how much to correct when I’m high.

I also realized that when I inject, I don’t remember how much insulin I take and when. I depend on the pump for that, too. So I downloaded an app, MySugr, which helped me with this.

But then what started as a naked feeling, a feeling of being a little lost, turned into a liberating feeling. I felt light and untethered just like everyone else. I didn’t wake up at night to turn over, look for a place to put my pump when I showered or got dressed and I didn’t get stuck on handles and door knobs.

Liberating didn’t last long, though, because there’s nothing like a constant blood glucose of 300 to bring you down. 

Even after somewhat figuring out my correct dosage, I struggled with the issue of the not-so-flexible basal rate. The reason I went on the pump to begin with was because I suffer from the dawn phenomenon, and cannot find a bolus rate which will keep me low enough at night without then causing me to drop all day long.

The other big issue is that the liberating, light and free feeling comes with an awful lot of shots, at least 10 a day. And although I hate inserting infusion sets into my body (not always painful, but always stressful), injecting all day long is painful and annoying. For the first few days I thought it would pass, that I would get used to it, but I haven’t.

So, after a brief vacation, one that I partly enjoyed and definitely learned from, I am back on the pump. 

 

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Jessica MarshallJacqueline HollandsMike Barrymeredithjodi Recent comment authors
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Jessica Marshall
Jessica Marshall

Sorry to hear about your situation Mike :( Diabetes is a real struggle especially type 1.. What hurts me most is the constant monitoring and strict dieting, the guilt of not following my diet and the complications that come with it, the diaper bag full of supplies I need to bring with me when I go anywhere. It’s a lot to deal with! I’ve been following a great program with scientific evidence that can help all diabetics.. my friend told me about a Doctor who had a segment on Oprah.. his website is http://goawaydiabetes.org Have been on his program for… Read more »

Jacqueline Hollands
Jacqueline Hollands

Maybe give the Omnipod a try?  I changed to it – tubeless and AWESOME. It changed my life – A1C was 11 on my previous pump and MDI, now 5.8 on the Omnipod.  And I can go swimming with no hassle!

Mike Barry
Mike Barry

I had the same experience this summer!  We went to Maui and we all wanted to try surfing and I couldn’t see swinging it with the non-waterproof pump.  I did 3 days before we left and it worked pretty well but, when we hit the resort and I was winging it on the food, things were a hot mess and I was very relieved to get my gizmos back, pretty much immediately after surfing!  I was utterly clueless about calculating shots, I think I sort of drifted back into my pre-2008/ pre-pumping habit of “winging it” really easily.  

meredith
meredith

after 10 years on a pump, it died at 2 am last Easter. i went without it for almost a year (let alone without health insurance for a decade, so yes, i paid for EVERYTHING out of pocket: the pump, the supplies and test strips). thanks to the ACA, i got health insurance again on January 1. and as soon as possible, i got a new pump. because during that time i was off it, i passed out three times. is it a hassle? yes, but passing out was worse. is it a pain? yes, but four to seven needles… Read more »

jodi
jodi

I was offered a pump, but decided that the technology was frighteningly outdated. I work with computers and didn’t feel that it was reliable enough for me. Also, the cost is staggering. So, I take a basal injection in the morning, and inject with my meals. I’m a bit of a control freak and I think that’s why it works for me. Thank you for illustrating the differences in approaches – I think one day I might be comfortable enough to try it out (once the technology advances). Google is working on a contact lens to measure blood sugar levels… Read more »

Susan French
Susan French

Mike, sorry to hear of your struggles with the pump vs injection decision! I was on an Insulin pump for 2 years, after being on injection program for 20 yrs. For me, it ended up being a financial decision as well as a “freedom” decision. I really gave the pump a committed attempt! The “cons” outweighed the “pros”. I quickly grew weary of the mechanical problems, failed infusion inserts and wrestling with my pump all night long~ My numbers have remained the same on each approaches~ (Good)  I feel it’s a completely personal choice and support what approach works for each… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine

Mike, I’m so sorry to hear that it’s been so frustrating! I’m currently taking a hybrid approach — using the pump for basals (and some corrections) and using injections for shots. Would that be worth trying? You could still use the pump to calculate your corrections or mealtime boluses (even if you used a needle to actually deliver them). And have you done any basal testing, or adjusted your basals since your injury? Now that you’re not running it makes sense that you’d have much, much higher basal needs than you did before.

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