I spent two weeks disconnected from my insulin pump last month. It was honestly the best decision I could have made for my diabetes management in the long run. Going back to the simplicity of injections gave me some much needed relief from the stress the pump was inflicting on me, as well as a lot of time to reflect on how I wanted to manage my diabetes going forward. With a much clearer head today, I will add some more to what I wrote about this pump break last month.
As we were heading into warmer weather and the festive season towards the end of last year, I was spending a lot more time being physically active. Watering the garden, Christmas shopping, setting up Christmas lights and activity around the house. Suddenly, a lot of what I had learned and experienced over the past few months from using an insulin pump had changed.
Being plugged into rapid acting insulin all the time felt exhausting. I was going low all the time. Even simple things, like watering the garden, would send my blood sugars spiralling downward. I felt like a single day without a hypo was rare. I often found myself eating my way out of impending hypos, and trying to predict what my blood sugar levels were going to do to me before leaving the house.
I felt really, really lost. I had very little confidence in my basal rates, or insulin to carb ratios. I had no idea whether it was my basal rates, or my insulin to carb ratios that were sending me low. I no longer felt safe leaving the house for half an hour without a meter and tonnes of skittles to fall back on. I’m pretty sure I had made the connection between physical activity and my lows, but I just felt far too overwhelmed at the thought of fine tuning everything once again.
I was nervously pacing up and down on a Friday night in December, deliberating over a site change or a Lantus injection. I was equally scared about going back to using Lantus, given how uneven and inconsistent it had been for me in the past. What finally got me over the line was telling myself that insulin pumping was no longer working for me. I knew that it was the source of all of this frustration, and that I didn’t need to use it if I didn’t want to.
The days that followed were quite honestly the happiest I’d felt in several weeks. The freedom from that annoying chunk of a pump, and the relief from not having to stress about basal insulin sending me low from a short walk. I was honestly so happy at the time, I was convinced that this might be the way forward for me. I was so relieved, I kept telling myself how much better injections were compared to the last few weeks I’d had on the insulin pump.
I went from having days like this.
To having days like this.
I anticipated I’d probably only last a few days without my pump. But injections were going surprisingly well for me. Everytime I stared at my pump, I just knew that I didn’t feel ready to hook back onto it. At the one week mark, I even stashed it in a drawer because I didn’t want to look at it.
My pump break gave me some much needed time to clear my head. I plugged back in for a few days over Christmas, because I knew that I would need the temporary basal rates and extended boluses to help me cruise through all of the food. I was fully prepared to take it off again after Christmas, but quite honestly I haven’t felt any desire to do so since.
I’ve been setting temporary basal rates around physical activity, and they seemed to do the trick from the get go with minimal hiccups. I’ve been setting a -30% temporary basal rate before I get into the car to go to the shops, and switching my insulin delivery to “off” for half an hour if I go for a short walk around the block in the afternoon. I think I’ve had about 2 or 3 hypos in the New Year, which is not only a big relief, but tells me that I must be doing something right.
If it weren’t for Christmas, I’m not sure whether I would still call myself an insulin pumper today. In those two weeks, I was absolutely fine with the possibility of going back to injections permanently if that was what worked best for me.
At the moment, things are travelling well with the pump. Things are making sense once again, and I honestly have not felt any desire to be without it since Christmas.
Could this change again down the track? Who knows? This is diabetes, after all…
What I have learned, however, is that I absolutely will not hesitate to take a pump break if the need arises again.
My diabetes, my rules…