My Lovely Little Insulin Pump

“My pump, my pump, my lovely little pump!”  My sister invented her own version of the Black Eyed Peas’ song, “My Humps” to poke friendly fun at my insulin pump.   

Four months after my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, my first insulin pump arrived.  I opened the box to find multiple manuals, a CD, a new glucose meter, and a collection of wires and plastic baggies full of I-don’t-know-what.  I am a person who avoids technology, and the pump intimidated me.

I took the entire box to my diabetes nurse educator, who proceeded to toss three-fourths of its contents aside.  With confident expertise, she quickly pushed a series of buttons on the pump to set its basic features.  I had no idea what a “temporary basal rate” or “daily totals” meant.  I just sat in my chair, pushed back from the table, and stared at her fingers going a mile a minute, like a teenager sending a text message.   

She showed me how to unwrap the pump supplies, connect them, insert the pump set into my body, and then, voila!, start pumping. Sensing my nervousness, she assured me that doctors put five-year-old children on pumps.  I left the office with a headache and spent the ride home praying that my pump wouldn’t beep to alert me that it was royally screwed up.  And I’d be the one who had to fix it.  Alone.    

I dreaded the third day, when my pump set would need to be changed and the real test of being a pump owner would begin. When it arrived, I begged my husband to inject the cannula into my body.  As he prepared to push the serter against my lower back, I took a few steps forward.  He told me to hold still.  I stepped forward again.  I was sweating and shaking. Here I was, having this foreign device inserted that would be attached to my body every hour of every day. Did I make the right choice by moving from syringes to the pump?

Eventually, the set was inserted and I let out a sigh of relief.  After a few weeks, I was able to navigate the pump buttons and some of the settings without the manuals or a call to my diabetes nurse educator.  Pumping became normal, but it has never become easy.

At times, I become incredibly annoyed with my diabetes.  Despite being a good patient (eating right, exercising, seeing my doctor regularly), I still have really bad days.   And usually, I blame my pump. I have often envisioned driving down the interstate at seventy miles an hour, rolling down the window, and chucking my insulin pump.  It would fly dramatically through the air, bounce multiple times, shatter, and fall into the abyss of median weeds.   Bye-bye, problems!

Then, of course, panic would set in and I would have to then yank the car to the side of the road.  My heart would be pounding as I realized that I was without my lifeline:  my insulin.  And I’d begin to frantically search for my dear pump, calling out to it like an owner looking for a lost puppy.  

I have spent many hours of my life on the phone with the pump company, troubleshooting pump issues.  But no matter how angry I get, how confused I become, or how discouraged I feel, my pump is with me through thick and thin, sometimes mocking me (ha ha, you can’t live without me!) and sometimes comforting me (at least something with this crazy disease is loyal).    

Thankfully, the pump is durable.  I have thrown it more than once, out of frustration.  But then I immediately regret my decision and want to apologize to my pump, as if it’s a spouse whom I’ve insulted in a state of self-centered rage.   

My pump is like my husband—there through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.  No matter what kind of day I’m having, my pump is there to provide me with the insulin I need to live.  And for that I am thankful.

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