Getting Pumped

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The insulin pump is a wonderful device, a marvel of engineering thatallows diabetics to screw up at the push of a button. With the pumpin use, however, instead of staring at a syringe and racking yourbrain to remember what you injected into where and how much, a fewbutton clicks will remind you of your mistake, allowing you tocorrect it with unprecedented accuracy.

For those of you who love the rollercoaster, the pump adds animpressive weapon to your arsenal. You can battle the ups and downswith speed and accuracy and totally avoid the delay of long-actinginsulins.

Being an avid rollercoaster rider, I finally gave the pump a try afew years back when I was in high school. Since I'm a gadget freak,I loved it right away. There was a time when I used to look forwardto meals because I loved eating.

With a pump, I looked forward to meals so I could push buttons. I even changed my insulin schedule so I could use all the features. The disadvantages of being hooked up to a machine twenty-four/sevendidn't occur to me until later.

Actually, one aspect of that reality was pointed out to me by myever perceptive high school buddies. I walked into school proudlydisplaying my newest toy and prepared to explain its function to thefirst person who asked. However, their first question caught me offguard. "Wow, Jon….What are you going to do if a woman wantsto sleep with you?"

Truth be told, I hadn't given it much thought. I had been puttingmy brain to work on more realistic scenarios. One area of muchdeliberation was how I could disassemble my pump and use thecomponents to break out of confinement, disable the weapons of theinvading alien ship, and thus save the human race. Luckily, my quickthinking brain was able to come up with an answer to my friends'unconsidered question on the spot. I pointed to the quick releasefeature of the infusion set. They all nodded wisely.

The pump is a must for any student. If you are a parent readingthis, the pump enables your scholastic progeny to control theirtroublesome diabetes, thus allowing them to focus more on theirstudies so that they can work hard and become a doctor and possiblydiscover a cure to this pesky nuisance of a condition.

For you students reading this, I trust you have discovered theTest feature of your pump. When you run the Self Test on theMiniMed 508, there is a ten second countdown that is followed by analarming series of beeps and vibrations. Run this test, look downwith a worried expression, and you and your best friend (you need anescort) will be able to walk out of any boring class, presentation,or meeting, with no questions asked.

Insulin pumps were designed with buffets in mind. Buffets aredifficult for a diabetic. After all, you must try everything (eventhe green stuff, although you know you really shouldn't). Mostlikely, after you've tried everything, you'll have to go back andresample the good ones. Possibly there will be a third plateinvolved as well. If you're like me, there's a good chance of afourth or tenth as well.

Since you never know what you'll be getting until you've gone tothe table, it's difficult to gauge the shots. So rather than takingten shots a meal (that does get rather old doesn't it?) and makingthe other guests uncomfortable (Did you see that guy at table 3? That's quite a habit he has) the pump provides a much more real timeand unobtrusive method of keeping up with the green stuff and thatlovely dish with the chunks in it that keep finding their way onyour plate.

You must keep in mind that a pump can be too much of a good thing.Its simple convenience can get you into trouble. While you arehappily eating away at the buffet and letting your fingers fly overthe pump controls like you were sending text messages, you canencounter certain speed bumps, like when you realize that you havejust taken insulin and are now committed to eating that second plateof chunky stuff that isn't as good as it was on the first round.Those can be dark moments.

I must admit that I rarely use the pump these days. When I startedcontemplating Super Glue to keep the infusion set in place, Irealized that it might be time to give shots another try. Gone(mostly) are the days where passersby saw a large man on the streetlooking morosely at the tube in his hand that had just beenaccidentally ripped from his body (you get some weird looks for thatone).

A certain amount of discipline has gotten me the same levelof control without a pump as I had with one. Yet the pump still isextremely useful for sick days, really bad control days, buffets,and the occasional meeting.

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