Change is good. We know this, even if sometimes we disagree. Without change, we’d still be living in wooden houses, cooking over fires, and relying on our local leech farms for medical advice.
Just because change is good, however, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
After 45 years of using syringes and pen (and a good few years of my endo persevering through my ‘can we please not talk about this again’ looks), I took the plunge and went on an insulin pump.
I’ve worked hard at keeping my sugars under control my whole life, from the age of seven when I took over responsibility for jabbing myself from my parents. My A1Cs weren’t terrible, but my job, and the stress it caused, was making it more and more difficult to keep my sugars stable.
I was very lucky to have a nurse/representative from the pump company assigned to me for the first month. And my diabetic nurse was right there with me (she even had the same pump as I’d decided on). The learning curve was steep, but I expected that. After only a few weeks I started seeing results: my sugars were a lot more stable and I felt better overall.
I wasn’t happy. At all. As an analyst, I couldn’t deny the data: my diabetes was much-better controlled. And, of course, I didn’t have to jab myself six times a day. I should have been overjoyed.
Taking the time to go through my emotions proved a valuable exercise, as did discussing it with my partner. We both have odd senses of humour (probably why we’ve been together for so long), so when he told me I was a cyborg, I laughed. Because it’s funny.
But it got me thinking. I have something attached to me. Always. And after years of taking a pen out of my bag, injecting, then hiding the pen away afterwards, here was a visible reminder of the disease I had. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I completely forgot I had diabetes while on the pens, we all know THAT isn’t possible. But for the few hours between injections, there was nothing to physically remind me.
Being a huge horror movie fan, I described my pump as always watching, always... there. At night, when I’d roll over and accidentally tug at the infusion set tube. Or going to the bathroom, ensuring nothing got tangled or dropped. During all of my most intimate moments. Reminding me.
I struggled. Then, one day, I found I was struggling less. It took time, admittedly. If I’m honest, it took just over a year. There were still days I questioned my choice, and wondered if I shouldn’t just go back to my pens. Those days became fewer and farther between. The carb counting that I’d found so frustrating grew easier (you start to automatically memorise the carbs in your favourite foods – ask me how many are in an old-fashioned plain doughnut, go on). The lumps that had grown over years of pen use were gone. More importantly, I felt great. Really really good. I had more energy, was sleeping better, was less stressed overall.
There are support groups on social media, and I actively sought them out. They were a game changer. What a surprise to find there were others out there who felt like I did, who’d had the same experiences, and who shared my humour! (We really are a funny bunch, us T1s, the jokes about test strips keep me giggling)
Sure, I still have the odd bad day when my sugars decide to take control for no reason at all and I glare at the insulin pump, accusing it of not doing its job. But those days, thankfully, are the exception.
I’m not sure I love my pump, but I’ll admit to maybe having a tiny crush on it. Just don’t tell my partner, he won’t understand the relationship between a human and their cyborg parts!
Kelly Evans, Type 1 '72, Pumper '15
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