The number six features twice in this post, both of which I am happy to write about.
Today marks my six month anniversary with my insulin pump. I cannot believe it has already been six months! I have learned more about my body and its needs over the last six months than ever before. I have had extremely frustrating moments and some fantastic achievements. I have come up with the positives and negatives I have found so far being on the pump. The positives, for me, far outweigh the negatives.
The main negative I can think of is the fact I am attached to a medical device nearly 24 hours per day. It is a constant reminder of this disease and that can be mentally draining at times. There is also the cost of having a pump, the supplies are not cheap! I am very glad to have decent benefits to help me out and the monthly payments for the pump itself are quite manageable. The minor negatives would be that I can no longer dilly dally in the shower as I don't want to be "unplugged" for any length of time. Sometimes it can hard to hide the pump discreetly when wearing tight clothes (thank goodness for a good bra and the girls!). Sometimes inserting the infusion sets hurts like a mofo and the sticky parts can irritate my skin. The tubing loves doorknobs and I have lost more than a few sites to these things! I do find that I test more so my fingers would say that is a negative.
Now for the best part, the positives. I feel like I have more freedom in my lifestyle. I can count my carbs accurately and dose accurately. For me .10 of a unit can make a difference and being able to dose so accurately has helped me avoid lows. I can eat what I like when I like. I love being able to set different basal rates through the day, particularly at night when I have the most insulin resistance (dawn phenomenon). I love being able to set different basal rates for my hormones, this has helped me a lot. By far the biggest positive for me has been being able to return to high intense activity. This has been a work in progress and I have a long way to go, but I am starting to figure out my different needs for each type of exercise I do. Being able to set temporary basal rates has been invaluable to me and has saved me from some mid-exercise lows. I used to wonder if I would ever be able to run another marathon or one day do a half ironman (with the ultimate goal being a full one). Now I am confident that these goals can be achieved. It will take patience and a lot of trial and error but I feel positive about it. One of my favorite things is knowing my insulin on board. It helps me to determine whether I need a snack before bed, whether I need to set a temp basal rate and is a good guide to determining if I may go low. Since starting on the pump I have had so many people ask me about it and I love that it gives me the chance to educate others. I have also managed to drop some of the extra weight I was carrying and I think this is because I have had less lows and am not eating to chase the insulin. Also the fact that my pump is 100% waterproof is wonderful!
Overall it has been the best decision for me. Will it always be the best choice, maybe not, but for now I would not change it. I have had some funny comments/questions about the pump. Most memorable would be someone asking why I had a dictation machine in my sports bra, lol. People have asked if it is an underwater iPod (I wish!), a pager, a tape recorder or a new kind of phone. A lot of people assume the pump can manage my diabetes by itself and are usually surprised to hear that I do everything I did before and in fact it takes more work and more testing. I still suffer lows and highs and I know this is part and parcel of having Type 1 diabetes. I am looking forward to the next six months of learning and reaching my training goals.
The other six I want to mention is....my A1C. I met with my endo last Friday and was shocked to hear that it has dropped to 6.0. He was very happy with this as I have not achieved it through having tons and tons of lows. He was able to pinpoint some patterns for me, mostly to due with exercise and the delayed lows I get. He gave me some ideas to try and said he did not need to see me again for 6 months! He was a bit concerned about the issues I continue to have with my feet (details to follow in a different post) and will monitor this closely. I pretty much floated out of his office :)
All in all the last six months have been extremely positive for me and my companion Type 1 diabetes.