I’ve now officially passed the one year mark since I began using an insulin pump! It was a huge leap of faith at the time, but one that I knew I had to make for the sake of lower and more stable blood sugar levels.
The biggest reason I switched was because I never felt I could get my background insulin dose quite right. Some nights, particularly if I ate more than normal, my Lantus dose wouldn’t be enough to keep my levels steady. Other nights, it would be too much and send me low.
Today, that problem is all but gone. The pump delivers a basal rate of insulin that can be customised to the time of day. I have a higher rate running from 1am to mid morning to offset dawn phenomenon, and a flat rate running through the remainder of the day. Night time basals have been the most challenging, with upward tweaks needed every month or two. But thankfully, the remainder of my basal rates have remained unchanged since I first figured them out last year.
Before I started pumping, I was guesstimating a lot of my insulin doses. I guess I wasn’t very motivated to do otherwise. I wasn’t really thinking too hard about what I was putting into my mouth, and there were a lot of emotionally exhausting highs and lows.
I began diligently counting carbohydrates and weighing my food since starting on the pump, and surprisingly I haven’t slacked off since! With a properly tuned basal rate, insulin just worked when I bolused to cover meals, rather than staying frustratingly high. The pump’s bolus calculator was extremely helpful, and of course having the pump attached to me made bolusing a lot more convenient when out and about.
As anticipated, the pump was a huge learning curve. My biggest hurdle in those first few months was site failures. The 90 degree insets that I was using at the time continually failed on me, causing regular bruising and bleeding on the stomach. I’ll always remember one tumultuous night where I ripped out my infusion site to discover the cannula had kinked on the way in. I eventually switched to the comforts which sit on an angle and have a manual insertion. Today, site failures are rarely an issue.
The insulin pump is hands down more work than injections. Infusion sites need changing every three days, insulin cartridges need to be refilled, pump lines need to be inspected for air bubbles, batteries need changing, and basal rates need adjusting for activity. You really need to be on top of your game with a pump, and that might not be a commitment everyone is able to make.
The insulin pump definitely gave me a renewed drive to better focus on what was some very lousy diabetes management.
From there, the rest of what I’ve achieved is down to my dedication to observing and learning more about my diabetes and the different variables that affect my blood sugar. So in this regard, I feel that I could just as easily have reached this level of management on Multiple Daily Injections as well.
I can’t express just how much of an investment this was – and I’m not sure I would have been able to do this if I were still at uni or had a more demanding job. But overall I now feel more knowledgeable, equipped and experienced to navigate my way through different scenarios. This level of management no longer feels like such a stretch.
While I don’t talk numbers on this blog, I will share that it took me six months to get my hba1c to where I wanted it to be. When I first hit that target in November, I really felt like I had squeezed everything out of myself to get that number. Today, I’ve been able to comfortably maintain that number – and hopefully even better it going forward.
It’s been a huge year for my diabetes, and one that I feel is definitely worth celebrating.
Happy pump-aversary to me!
(And here’s hoping diabetes is a bit easier on me this coming year)