Thursday, January 26, 2006

Two Years Ago Today.

Reflections on the day my pump arrived two years ago...

The FedEx box loomed in the middle of the room.

Special overnight delivery. On a Saturday, no less. The room shrank as the box sat unopened.

I made myself a cup of tea and sat down on the floor. Peeled back the packing tape. The flaps sprang open and a few stray foam peanuts flung themselves onto the floor, falling victim to Abby's big paws. Reaching into the box, I foraged around until I found the green, white and blue box inside. "Medtronic Minimed. Paradigm 512."

It looked like a pager. Slightly bigger, maybe, weighing in a just a few ounces. Smokey gray in color and almost transparent, I could see all the gears and wires inside.

Sipping my tea, I clipped it to the top of my shorts and stood up. I felt unbalanced, as though I would tip to one side if an aggressive breeze blew through. Leaving it attached, I jumped up and down. Nothing happened. I sat on the couch to see if it I would feel its presence. I walked over to the window and looked out onto the deck, hearing the soft clink of the pump as it touched against the window sill.

The box of infusion sets was decidedly dodgier. Twenty three inches of snaky, thin white tubing. The round white patch of gauze with the bright blue lid on it. A 6 mm cannula.

Prying open the infusion set packaging, I touched the tip of the needle with my finger. It was hollow and very sharp. I lifted up my shirt and exposed my stomach, daring myself to press the needle tip against my skin. It stung a small bit, but no more than a syringe.

I was used to syringes, though. I’d used them many times a day for over seventeen years. Was I ready for this? This change? This whole new regimen?

I pressed the needle hard against my stomach, watching as my skin resisted, then that sliding pop of compliance as the needle slid in. I pulled out the blue cap and inspected the infusion set in my stomach for the first time. It looked like the cap on children’s Tylenol. Like a tiny little Superdome on my abdomen.

Standing in front of the full length mirror in my bathroom, it was bright white against my skin. I pulled my shirt tight over it and saw its outline against the fabric. It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t big. It could go unnoticed. My body still looked the same. I was still the same.

The tear that slipped down my cheek was absorbed into my shirt and quickly joined by another. I was scared. But why? This small thing, clipped to my belt and the cannula under my skin, was going to help me achieve better control. It was going to assist me in lowering my otherwise plateaued A1C. The pump was going to afford me the freedom of sleeping late, conquering the dawn phenomenon, and bolusing minute increments.

I felt different, though. This pump was the first external sign of my diabetes. And that, after 17 years of quiet injections and subtle finger pricks, stirred up the oddest combination of pride and fear. I have done this for so long the only way I knew how. This new method was daunting. I had no idea that my A1C would drop within three months. Or that I would sleep late on a Saturday and not end up hypoglycemic. Or that I would feel strikingly healthier and confidently safer two years later.

I felt otherwise changed.

It was startling to look in the mirror and still see me.


At January 27, 2006 4:09 PM, Anonymous Alexis said...

" after 17 years of quiet injections and subtle finger pricks,"
Going on 16 years here, and still doing the injections (syringes and pen needles). I've actually become quite adept at reaching underneath a restaurant table and taking my insulin while still holding a conversation (making sure that Red Head doesn't see any of this of course). At some point I'd like to get a pump. I guess like most diabetics we rely so much on routine that a big change like this is sometimes hard to start.

At January 27, 2006 5:10 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Congrats on the pump. I've been pumping for 2 1/2 years now and I love it. It is a little scary at first but it really is an amazing invention. I hope it works for you.
Also, great discriptions. That is what the look and feel of a pump is.

At January 27, 2006 5:15 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Today is actually my two year anniversary of the pump. It's been one of the best decisions I've made regarding my diabetes.

Good luck, Alexis, if you decide to take the plunge(r). Ah, puns.

At January 27, 2006 5:27 PM, Blogger Nicole P said...

Weird, I know a lot of other diabetics who've had your experience going on the pump -- but not as many like me. I didn't mind the physical manifestation of the disease nor the way it might look or feel (I don't even think I thought about those things) -- what I worried most about was my ability to remember to put it on. Goofy, I know...

At January 27, 2006 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Kerri for sharing your life with us. My 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes this year. Many of my nights are still spent crying over everything she has to do to stay healthy and the way our lives have changed in the last couple of months. But reading your blog helps me to see that she really will be ok. As hard as it is, we are doing our best to not let this consume our lives, especially hers. I want her to be a child who happens to have diabetes, and not a diabetic who happens to be a child. If that makes sense. Anyway, thank you so much - I do believe I have read just about every one of your posts since I found your blog about a week ago. And I have cried, and occasionally laughed, through many of them. Thanks.


At January 28, 2006 10:26 AM, Anonymous carol said...

Great description of the shift from MDI to pumping, Kerri! Scariest part for me in shifting to a pump was that I figured it would "out me" as a diabetic. I was already open about it with people I knew well, but didn't exactly want it to be a topic at say a job interview. It did in fact "out me" with many people, and that has turned out to be a good thing.

I lead our wellness program at work, and started off a meeting yesterday by introducing myself and Wilbur (my pump). Shows people I'm human and helps them feel more comfortable talking with me about their issues. Without the pump, I'm not sure I would have ever done that.

Your blog is like that. Creates a point of connection for so many. I really appreciate your honesty and can relate to the feelings you so eloquently express. Keep up the superb writing!

At January 28, 2006 12:24 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Jenn - I'm glad you can find some kind of solace here (even though I ramble on about nonsense and occasionally talk about my boyfriend and my car too much). But I guess that's the point: There's more to my life than this disease. In fact, it's just one facet of me. Your daughter will be just fine. And so will you. And when you have moments of doubt, read through all the inspiring and honest blogs out there. They'll let you know you're not alone.

Your line "I want her to be a child who happens to have diabetes, and not a diabetic who happens to be a child," really struck a chord with me. Thank you. A very beautiful line. I think you've inspired my next post. :)

Feel free to email me if you have anything you want to talk about offline.

Carol - Thank you for checking in here! I agree with you on concept of being "outed" by my pump, although I think I'm the only one who notices it most of the time. (Excluding the times the wire slips out and gets caught on the doorknob as I walk by and I make that "Ooomph" noise. Ouch.) Good luck with your wellness program at work. And I hope you continue to check in here once in a while. I appreciate it.

At January 28, 2006 1:20 PM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Congratulations on your anniversary! It really is amazing, this little machine that's clipped on our belts. It's an adjustment to get used to for sure, but once you see the results... wow!

At January 28, 2006 8:43 PM, Blogger Sandra Miller said...

Thank you for providing insight into the complex emotions experienced when making the transition to the pump.

A wonderful piece of writing here (as usual).

At January 28, 2006 11:55 PM, Anonymous cin said...

Happy Anniversary Kerri !! Hopefully, when I make the plunge, you will be here to help me celebrate.

At February 01, 2006 12:11 PM, Blogger Doug said...

I felt the same way when my Minimed 507 showed up. That was 5+ years ago. I had a two week period between pumps where I was back on the syringe binge, jugling two types of insulin and it was a great experience. It reminded me of all the reasons I love my pump.

At February 05, 2006 4:08 PM, Blogger KSC said...

The pump evolved into a total relief for me...from 15 years with needles to 4 1/2 years on the more severe lows. I remember that first day, when it really dawned on me emotionally instead of intellectually - no more shots! Holy Crap, I thought. It took some getting used to but I still love having it.

At June 02, 2010 5:10 PM, Blogger AmandaRae said...

Hi Kerri! I rush to my computer everyday to read your latest post. I can't lie, I check your blog before my e-mails. Anyway I am starting on my pump tomorrow evening and I was looking for support via Google and I came across this blog post of yours. Thank you for reassuring me that it will all be ok! I really enjoy your blog. Sometimes it is so easy to forget that you are not the only diabetic out there.


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