What I learnt without my Insulin Pump

Friday morning after my run and swim session I was settling down for a big breakfast at my regular café when my insulin pump started vibrating. This was unexpected as my levels were good and the pump had been functioning fine up to this point, the vibration was also different to the standard pump warnings. Checking the pump and the screen read “SLEEP ERROR, CONTACT SERVICE”, the vibration had also changed to a consistent thump and the pump did not sound healthy. With that, and with perfect timing, my carbohydrate loaded breakfast arrived and I realised that I wouldn’t be eating it and my morning would now be a rush to get flex-pens to dose my insulin.

The Friday timing was particularly bad as well because the weekend would delay the delivery of a replacement pump until Monday which meant up to 4 days off the pump and back to short/long acting insulin injections to manage my diabetes. The pump supplier provided a fantastic service when I contacted them and although we were able to try a number of things to rectify the pumps issues, we were ultimately unsuccessful.

Having had T1D for over 20 years and only being on the pump for the last 2 years, I was pretty confident that I would be able to manage things over the weekend with short and long acting insulin (flex-pens). Annoyingly I didn’t have any long acting insulin left or an old script, so I needed to go to the doctors to get this sorted ($$$). When collecting my insulin, the pharmacist asked if I knew what my dosage was; sure, and if not then I’ll just figure it out. I did think that I had this under control but would find out that T1D isn’t easy to manage, control cannot be taken for granted and poor control has a significant impact on your daily well being.

Flex Pen

Back using flex-pens and there was a few funny looks when “shooting up” in the peloton

 

 

Over the subsequent four days until my new pump arrive I managed my levels fairly well with the short and long acting insulin but I did tend to run high and had some fairly uncontrollable hypo’s. I am a control freak when it comes to me levels and I really missed the fine control that you can achieve using a pump. Two long acting insulin doses over 24hrs didn’t seem to keep me stable and I was regularly giving adjustment short acting doses, all the time nervous that I would have a hypo by over-dosing. My sleep was affected, I wasn’t able to exercise very much and my eating patterns where all over the place as I tried to get my levels, doses and carbohydrates matched. By Monday morning I felt like I had been on a massive bender for the weekend and I had a huge hangover to now deal with. A few people commented about this at work from the way I was looking but then couldn’t understand it as I don’t really drink!? Feeling as I did I was in no mood to respond.

So nearly four days off my insulin pump and upon reflection this is what I have learnt.

  • Insulin dosing is serious business and no matter how long you have had T1D for you must be cautious when changing your insulin doses
  • It’s important to let others know what’s going on and how they can help you; hypo’s, feeling sick and changing your routine all need the support of those around you
  • There are serious risks with T1D and in situations like this you shouldn’t push yourself; as much as it pained me, going on a 100km ride and being hours from home would not have been smart
  • I have gained a real appreciation for newly diagnosed T1D’s, I was taking an educated guess with my insulin doses and there was some fear each time, especially at night, about what the result would be
  • When things are not going right (high/low BGLs, not feeling well) it’s important to try to continue to do things that energise you, even if these are only small. I managed to get out for a ride with my Dad on Saturday and although I felt average it did make me feel a little better and remain positive
  • It is really important to try to remain positive even when it seems like you just can’t make things work. For me, my mental state particularly negative, has a significant impact on my BGLs making any bad situation even worse

On Monday afternoon I was reconnected to my pump and after a better nights sleep I was feeling 100 times better on Tuesday morning. Without doubt I am now truly amazed at how great my insulin pump is and how much it helps me manage my T1D. It’s certainly not perfect and I am still looking forward to future developments, but it allows my levels to remain stable and for me to be as active as I want to be every day. I am also happy that my regular donations to JDRF contribute a small part to their pump program which provides the opportunity for more T1Ds to get access to an insulin pump.

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