The Open Forum: Pumps are Not Miracle Machines

After three months on the pump, I may have my basal rate close to being set. This comes just in time to begin a new physical labor job in a week or so and refigure the whole dang process.

Being on the pump is not easy – it is not this magical machine that gives you good control in a small amount of time with less effort. I have put in more effort on the pump than I have ever put into this disease. It did not free up my lifestyle. My lifestyle was freer when I ate whatever and whenever I wanted and played chase with my blood sugars.

The truth is that going on the pump is as complex and difficult as everything also connected with diabetes. All the old rules still apply. Let me expound: If you scrutinize every morsel that goes into your mouth and give up on eating whenever you want, and don’t eat certain things at certain times of the day, and test and adjust your bolus (shot of insulin) to how many carbs (don’t forget the fat and protien count because it will matter), and memorize the contents of all the food in the world, and ask the busy waitress during the dinner rush if she minds finding out what everyhting you’re ordering is made of, etc., you can have acceptable blood sugars (for the most part). You cannot just “have them” on the pump without doing all these things, as was my belief.

It is the same mistake I’ve made for the past 28 years: “You can live a normal life if …” It is a lie you know. The “if” negates the “normal life” part. But I took the bait again with the pump – more flexibility, eat what you want, etc. – only to find out there is nothing normal about the incredible amount of work and knowledge it takes to have acceptable blood sugars on or off the pump. I see nothing normal when I look at myself in the mirror naked, hooked up to a machine.

The pump is only a more advanced insulin delivery tool that brings me back to where I started – a faceoff between denial and acceptance.

This machine makes me face all those things I swore I would never do, like count out 12 grapes. As a child I remember the nutritionist telling me, as if she were making this wonderful offering, that I could have 12 grapes for a fruit exchange. I just stared at her. Grapes are to be relished, not rationed. This was asking too much. Twelve grapes became the rallying point of my rebellion with the food requirements of diabetes.

But I knew the pump would make me face those things I had been avoiding. It was the only way I could force myself to test the theory: “if you do this, this, and this, blood sugars should fall into the right place.” It’s really why I chose to go on this pump in the first place. And I’ve hated it, fighting it all every inch of the way.

But I’ve learned that if you do the “dos,” they tend to work more than not work. Shoot, I so wanted the experiment not to prove true. Now I must face the truth each time I make a food choice. So the other night we had grapes for dinner and I look it up in the carbo book. Guess what? Twelve grapes equals… Can you believe it? Full circle. And the truth is – today I am a diabetic, so today I’ll count my grapes.

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