Why I Joined the Group
To raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes, and to meet other young people with this condition
What Being Type 1 Means to Me
To me being Type 1 means always having to be prepared. We need to plan ahead for things most people dont even consider and we are always aware that not doing so can be dangerous.
Why you feel this group is important and can be crucial for young people:
It is easy to feel different from other people when you have a condition like Type 1 diabetes, and interacting with other people who understand this can help you to feel more 'normal'.
My Pump Story
I had been considering a pump for a while due to severe hypos, but the incident that finally forced me to take the plunge involved walking home from school, an ambulance, and several mildly traumatised teenagers. But that's another story.
My mum spoke to my DSN soon after that, and told her I wanted to try a pump. My DSN agreed, but I'm not sure how much choice my mum gave her in the matter. This was in April 2010, and by August, a couple of weeks before my scheduled pump start date, my pump was delivered to my house. I'm not sure what a normal level of excitement over a medical device is, but I probably surpassed it by far.
However, it was also very overwhelming to see the large package filled with countless containers of different supplies, and a very thick instruction book. It seemed so much more complicated than a simple insulin pen.
The week before I officially started pumping, I went to my diabetes clinic to practise performing basic tasks on the pump and to have an infusion set filled with saline put on. This gave me a chance to try wearing the pump realistically without the pressures of remembering all the information about operating the actual pump.
On the last night of pumping only saline, I stopped taking my Lantus in preparation for receiving my background insulin from the pump instead. When the saline site was removed, and one with real insulin inserted, my pump was programmed with basal (background insulin) rates, carbohydate ratios, and insulin sensitivity factors estimated by my team to be accurate for me.
For the first few days, I had very mixed feelings about the pump. My basal rate had turned out to be too high, which meant I spent much of those first days with low blood sugar while I learned to tweak these settings, with help from my DSN who contacted me frequently while I got to grips with the basics of using an insulin pump.
I was also still very aware of the pump, and found it uncomfortable to wear. But on the other hand, I was thrilled to be able to simply press a few buttons when I wanted to eat rather than having to do an injection.
The cons of using a pump probably outweighed the pros for the first few months for me. Just as I was beginning to feel confident in operating the pump, and felt my various pump settings were somewhat accurate, I began having a lot of problems with my infusion sets.
The cannula, a small tube that sits under your skin, was kinking as it was inserted, and insulin was unable to get through, often meaning my blood sugar would be HI within a few hours. This happened to me with up to half of the sites I put in at the worst times, and I would sometimes have to change my set several times in one night, often resulting in late nights chasing high blood sugars.
There were points when I felt like giving up on the pump, despite the freedom I had gained from injections, until I tried a different type of infusion set on the recommendation of my DSN. Though these sites had longer cannulas, and were more painful to insert, it was so worth it to be able to truly see the benefits of the pump now that I could really trust it.
Since then, I have found yet another type of infusion site that is both reliable and painless, but making the change to a better type of site for me was the moment where I became very glad I had switched to a pump.
My main reason for trying a pump was to reduce, or ideally eliminate severe hypos, but it soon became clear that that goal hadn't been met. Even when I had gotten used to pumping and was utilising all of the pumps features to try and maintain stable blood sugars, I still continued to have serious hypos a few times a year. But I don't regret the decision to switch to a pump, because the hard work in making it work for me resulted in benefits I either didn't think I would find important or never imagined.
The ability to reduce my basal insulin, either permanently for times of day when I naturally need more insulin, or for exercising or preventing a lowish blood sugar from going truly low, is invaluable to me, and something that I now can't imagine how I managed without it. The worries I had about discomfort or inconvenience from wearing the pump vanished very quickly; within a week I stopped noticing the pump, and now after being on it for years, I actually miss it on occasions where I take it off for exercise.
Although it isn't right for everyone, pumping was a great decision for me and an option I believe everyone with Type 1 diabetes should be fully aware of, understanding both the pros and cons to come to the right decision for them.