Monday, February 11, 2013

Meet Penelope

So we all know that those of us in the D-OC like to name our medical devices. I've had the MiniMed Revel for a while now and this pump didn't actually have a name. I'd named my old pump Lola, but this one hadn't gotten a name yet. She'd been stubborn, and until I got her an outfit to wear, she hadn't given me her name.

A few weeks ago I custom ordered a pump skin for my pump. I did this with my last pump as well. My love of theatre seems to be pretty well known throughout the D-OC, but in case you didn't know I have another blog where I focus almost completely on theatre and other related things.

This pump skin is basically the American Idiot (musical!!) poster. I wanted to bring my love of theatre (and my current favorite show) to my diabetes life. I feel they mix more often than not, and I figured if I'm gonna wear a device twenty-four hours a day to keep me alive, I might as well make it look like something I love.

When she got her skin, she gave me her name. It's kind of silly, but on the first national tour of American Idiot, there was a piece of the scenery that the cast named Penelope. I don't know why they picked that name. I don't know where it came from. But Penelope was an awesome set piece AND she made things fun... and occasionally cause some physical pain. Sound like an insulin pump? It did to me. Penelope, my insulin pump.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Scar Tissue Issue

I love that the title of this post rhymes. It kind of makes me laugh. And this little problem is one that I NEED to laugh at. Otherwise it makes me want to bawl my eyes out.

Let me start at the beginning… Several months ago I started having infusion sets give me “NO DELIVERY” alarms quite a bit. Always within the first 12 hours of a new infusion site; mostly within the first few hours of a new infusion site. “NO DELIEVERY” began to haunt me in my dreams.

I’ve been pumping for nearly 7 years and up until a few months ago, I could count on one hand the number of times I got a “NO DELIVERY” alarm. I was pulling out sites left and right. About 90% of the time, the cannula didn’t look kinked, or bent. Basically, nothing looked like it was wrong. It’s frustrating because not only to I have to start all over; it’s wasting a perfectly good infusion set. I hate it. I may have insurance, but it’s still money out of my pocket and I HATE wasting money. When a sensor goes back, I can fake it for a day or so and let it have time to acclimate. You don’t have that luxury with an infusion set. Insulin = life.

In the past month it went from having “NO DELIVERY” alarms more than I’d like to having 3 or 4 in a row before I could get a site that worked. I was BEYOND frustrated. I called MiniMed to ask their advice and to let them know that I thought it was scar tissue. I had been given a box of 6 mm cannula Mio infusion sites and they seemed to not give me any trouble at all.

The MiniMed people were great, as always. They replaced my sets and agreed that it was a very good possibility that the 9 mm cannula Quick Sets were hitting scar tissue and getting blocked or bent because of the scar tissue. They replaced 4 of my sets with 6 mm Quick Sets to see if those would work and told me that they’d be glad to replace the ones I have if the 6 mm ones worked.

I got then in the mail last week and AGAIN, I went through 2 of the 6 mm Quick Sets before I finally gave up and put a Mio in my lower back. It’s been my stomach that has been causing me the problems. The other sites I use (arms, lower back) haven’t been giving me trouble. I’ve just come to the conclusion that A) for whatever reason, the Mios work better on me right now and B) that my stomach may be too riddled with scar tissue to have infusions sites anymore.

So, here are my questions: Does anyone know what the difference is in the Mio and the Quick Sets? If the cannulas are the same length, why does it seem like only the Quick Sets give me trouble? And do you have suggestions on other sites for me to put in infusion sets? Something I can reach myself, since I have no one to help me with them.

My worst fear being forced to take a “pump vacation” due to something like scar tissue. I don’t want to have to do it. In fact, right now I refuse to do it. I just don’t know exactly what to do. Part of me thought that a different infusion set might be better. If not the Mio, then something else. Part of me wants to FORCE the sites I have to work (though I know that’s not going to happen). And a part of me wants to deny that anything is wrong in the first place.

Why doesn’t diabetes play fair?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven. I’ve been mulling this word (these words?) over for a while now. I’ve used them for a while. But today is the official day. Twenty-seven years ago today I was rushed to the hospital in a nearby town and admitted to the hospital, where I would stay for nearly a week, so that my parents could learn how to take care of their diabetic child and so I could learn to not need two nurses to hold me down while they injected me with life-saving insulin.

It was 1986. Home testing was relatively new. Synthetic insulin was relatively new. We didn’t know how to count carbs, only servings. Blood sugar testing took 90 seconds. I was the only kid in my school (and I’m pretty sure my town) that had Type 1 diabetes. I was only four years old.

I remember so little from life before diabetes entered. I do remember eating ice cream (vanilla fudge swirl) with my dad after dinner. I’d sit in his lap while he sat in his chair and we watched Hee-Haw or some other television show.

I do remember some major things from my diagnosis. Being held down so they could give me a shot. Crying for more orange juice, cause that’s the only thing sweet they’d let me have. The nurse with MAJOR bright eye shadow and buttons all over her nurses jacket. The things a child would remember.

Because I remember so little of life before diabetes came, I have no idea exactly how it changed my life. Sure, there’s the obvious stuff, like insulin, doctor’s visits, the need for insurance, my unparalleled ability to guess carbs correctly… But I don’t know really what it did to ME. My personality, my life choices, who I am as a person.

So I just want to take a minute to be thankful for the things that I think and the things that I KNOW diabetes has provided me with. I believe diabetes has provided me with a better awareness of my health. Thank goodness for that! I believe that diabetes provided me with maturity beyond my years, even as a child, because of so many responsibilities that diabetes brings into your life. In a way, I think that could have kept me out of some of the trouble I may have gotten into otherwise.

And diabetes brought me you. The people I found online who shared my disease, and turned into my friends off-line with whom I’ve shared both joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, fun and friendship, hobbies and common interests. I never would have found you otherwise. So there is a bright side to all of this. Really, today is a day to be thankful. Thankful for my health. Thankful I’m free of major complications. Thankful for my friends. Thankful for technology. Thankful that I’m alive.

So, here’s to 27. While I hope there’s a cure, in the event that there isn’t one coming soon, here’s to a healthy future.