So it was 2004 (or was it 2003 ?) and my a1c’s were in the range of fabulous, something like 6.5 and they haven't been that low since!
But while my a1cs were fabulosity times infinity, my abdomen looked like a color wheel - I kid you not.
Every part of my stomach that you could reach with needle was in the process of changing between shades of yellow, green, blue and purple and all the way around. And It wasn’t pretty. While at the time I had abs that were bikini ready, I couldn't wear one because of all the bruising on my belly.
I was bolusing for every 15 grams of carbs I put my mouth, except treating lows and workout carbs. I was working out with a trainer at the time and had lost 20lbs and I watched about my food intake like a hawk - so did my trainer.
But I was running out of real estate regarding injection sites. I was also was incredibly sensitive to my night time Lantus (one of the 10% of the population who felt like they were injecting orange juice into their veins instead of insulin,) and the acidity of it actually brought tears to my eyes on a nightly basis.
So anyway, I was sitting in my Endo’s office on the exam table and Dr. J kept looking at my stomach.
Dr. J: Kel-Lee (that’s how he pronounces my name) your a1c is wonderful, your working out 6 days a week ( at the time I was - And I looked like a Brick House,) and you look wonderful.
Dr. J: But your stomach is not so good and we gotta do something about that.....
Me: Yeah, I’m running out of real estate - And I tend to bruise like a ripe peach. Damn genetics!
Dr J: I really want you to consider going on an insulin pump Kel-Lee, Seriously, I want to give it a try.
Me: Doc, I don’t want to go on the insulin pump - I don’t want to be attached to anything. You know Dr. J, I’m known for my drop dead good looks and trendsetting fashions.
FYI: The last part was a joke -I’m more striking than drop dead good looking, (JOKING) but both my grandfather and father were tailors, so I’m all about the cut of good good suit and understand the importance of fabric that drapes well ;)`
Dr.J: I understand, but we will figure it out. Look Kel-Lee, your stomach is always in a state of bruising and that’s not good. Do me a favor, go on the pump and give it a try - And if you don’t like after a few months, then forget about the pump and we switch back to injection. But just give it a try and give your belly a rest. Plus it helps preventing complications, you've had diabetes for 25 years, so lets do whatever we can do in that area.
Look, let’s try it for a year, and if you really don’t like it - You go off it, and I won’t be mad.
I knew in my heart (and in my belly) that he was right. And the fact that he wouldn’t be mad at me if I didn’t decide to stay on the pump really took the pressure off and was the deciding factor on why I finally agreed. FYI: My older sister had been trying to convince me for years to go on the pump, but her delivery wasn’t nearly as subtle.
So like I stated above, I finally agreed, because Dr. J was right and I didn’t want to become a human color wheel or one giant dead spot all rolled into one. I went home and talked about it with my then significant other, and together we figured out the how and whens and scheduled an appointment to pick out a pump and start pump training classes together with the CDE at my Endo’s office.
And as long as I’m sharing, I have to admit that I almost left my first pump training class and never returned.
The class consisted of me, my ex B.F., and two guys who were really having a tough time with their diabetes. They both were in and out of the hospital almost daily and one guy had lost a leg. The other guy had been just come out of the hospital after a series of seizures and he had a drinking problem. They were both in their mid 30s and they scared the shit out of me.
After our class was over, they left and my Ex and I sat at the table and I kept staring at my notebook until the words became blurry. Then I burst into tears and said: Am I going to die? I thought I was healthy, I thought we agreed that I was going on the pump to give my body a rest!
Both my ex and the CDE looked at me like I was crazy.
CDE: Kell, you’ve been handling your diabetes really well. You’ve come so far and you’re doing a great job!
My Ex: Kell, why are you crying??
Me: Am in the same boat as them??? I’m sorry but seeing what they are going through scares me!
And it really did, guys. Hearing about what they were going through frightened me and scared me to death. They weren't much older than I was and seeing what they had to deal with made me really wonder what my own future would look like.
CDE: You are going on the pump to make your life easier. I know change is scary, especially when it comes to your diabetes care, but it’s going to give you even more control and more freedom in the long run. I promise, you're going to love pumping! But if you don’t, that’s OK too. Those guys are going on the pump to save their lives, and I’m really praying for them.
Me: Why are we in the same class then?
Sidebar: For some reason, I couldn't stop focusing on that, and looking back I realized it was all about my own health fears.
CDE: Kelly, you’re in the same class because your going on the pump around the same time, not because you all handle your diabetes the same way. People go on the pump for different reasons, with the same goal. Better control and more freedom.
Me: Ohhh, OK. The whole thing is just freaking me out - And they remind me of my sister Debbie and the whole thing just makes me question my life. and I’m scared and nervous. It's not like I'm the perfect diabetic because I'm not!
Lord knows I have my own diabetes problems and issues. And I’m really worried for those guys.
CDE: I know you’re scared, but that’s normal. And I’m worried for those guys too. Hopefully, they’ll start to worry about themselves more.
After my minor breakdown, my ex and I went home and read all my pump stuff and attend two more classes on bolus, basal rates carb counting/ pump setting and I never saw my classmates again. But I think of them often and pray that they doing better.
Three weeks later my pump arrived and my world changed.
We took the pump to my CDE’s office and I hooked myself up (including the infusion set) on the first try and my Ex and my CDE were like: GO GURL, look at you putting in your own infusion set on the first try!
And I have to admit, I was proud of myself, and I remember thinking that it wasn’t so bad being “plugged” in.
Then we went home and the basal testing nightmare began. I like to refer to that short span of time as Hell Week.
Back then, there was no such thing as a CGM and basal tasting required testing hourly and eating the same three meals daily. Between the lack of sleep and eating more PB & J sandwiches than anyone ever should, I was ready to throw my new insulin pump in the Delaware River! But Hell week only lasted 7 days and then it was over!
At the end of Hell Week, we’d figured out my basal rates ( and yes, it required tweaking and still does,) and life went on.
It was pretty much smooth transitional sailing after that, sans my pumps unholy attraction to doorknobs, and learning the hard way to ALWAYS carry triple AAA batteries on my person.
My fashion sense never suffered, my health continued to stay on course, and for the first time since I was 8 years old, I was able to skip a meal. Though as long as I’m being all honest, it took me a year to skip an actual meal because not skipping a meal had been drilled into me for so long that it took me a while to actually, you know... skip said meal!
While insulin pumping isn’t perfect, ( nothing is perfect in life,) I’d never go back to multiple daily injections.
I love the freedom and feeling of control that being on an insulin pump gives me. I love the feeling of safety that having an electronic pancreas clipped to my hip gives me.
And I love that pumping has given me an appreciation for diabetes technology and the confidence to actually pursue that diabetes technology.
And as far as being a chickbot, I’m OK with that - And I wear well ~