I know that the decision to switch to an insulin pump is not something that I should take lightly. I’ve been deliberating the matter for a while. I wrote about it earlier this week here. I also recently went to see my diabetes educator, Gwen, for some advice.
Gwen is a truly amazing person. You can read about just how amazing she is right here. Gwen’s stated goal was to arm me with the knowledge and skills to manage my diabetes, so that her position as my educator would eventually become redundant. And it sure did. The last time I had a session with Gwen was back in 2010, towards the end of my first year living with diabetes.
I knew that Gwen was always available to me outside of appointments if need be. I had her phone number, e-mail address, and I can even remember her squeezing me in once during her lunch break when I was anxious about too many hypos. I can remember giving Gwen a box of chocolates on the first Christmas after my diagnosis, because she had just been so wonderful during that first year of diabetes. I’ve seen her a few times in passing at the clinic when I go to see my endocrinologist. However, since transitioning from the ‘young adult’ to ‘adult’ diabetes clinic, I’ve seen her less frequently.
I was extremely nervous to go back and see Gwen a few weeks ago, after such a long time. In the car on the way there, I was reciting over and over in my head what I would say to her. Would she take what I needed to say seriously? Would she be supportive of insulin pump therapy? Would I talk to her about my blog, and my involvement in the Diabetes Online Community this year? Would she even remember me?
But walking into her office that day, my nerves were instantly settled. As she began reviewing our last session five years ago, she was so thorough. As she talked through the results of my last endo appointment and hba1c result, she was so familiar and so well prepared for me. As her patient, it felt as though that last session five years ago could have taken place just yesterday.
So, Gwen’s verdict on pumping, in a nutshell?
A pump is a big commitment.
Pumping is not any “easier” than Multiple Daily Injections.
However, a pump can give me more “flexibility.” A pump delivers insulin constantly in order to regulate glucose levels, as opposed to injections which are given at set times of the day. The rate at which a pump delivers insulin can be adjusted throughout the day to factor in activities such as work, physical activity and sleep. The units of insulin delivery on pumps are so precise that you can bolus for something as small as the milk in your coffee!
There are also a few requirements for pumping in Australia.
First up, I must have an appropriate level of Private Health Insurance for a period of at least 12 months, in order for the cost of a pump to be covered. Big tick there.
Second up, I need to show that I qualify for a pump. Translation: I have type 1 diabetes and I’m a good student who will show up to my education sessions. Big tick there.
Third up, a pre education session with Gwen (big tick there), where paperwork is completed and passed onto my endo for sign off (not quite there, yet).
Finally, pump fitting day followed by 3-4 daily sessions with Gwen in order to fine tune the pump. Sadly, there’s a 3 month waiting list at my diabetes clinic for this.
I’m really glad that I did go and get another perspective from Gwen that day. Gwen was plain thorough. She discussed the matter with the seriousness that it deserved, without trying to sway my decision either way.
So, as the session came to an end, I sensibly decided that I would go home and think about it, and come back in the New Year for another check in. Class dismissed!