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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

I'm pumped   (June 16, 2008)

As long-time readers know, I've been equivocating about getting an insulin pump ever since my diagnosis about two years ago. I finally decided in May (see Time for a pump!), and contacted a pump company, and filled out all the paperwork.

Amazingly, everything went smoothly as far as the paperwork, and the big box containing the pump and a whole bunch of supplies arrived in early June. I scanned through the reams of papers, instructions, warnings, and foreign-language versions of same, installed software for downloading, and watched part of the instructional DVD, then got bored and decided to interact with a real human being, my pump trainer, instead of a canned non-interactive DVD presentation.
The pump trainer, an extremely gracious CDE nurse named Tanya, came to my home last week to review my ability to handle the pump, and for me to sign off on a humongously-long checklist that I knew how to do this, that, and the other thing. Most of which I could do fairly easily, but I was really worried how much of this new information was stored only temporarily in short-term memory, and that I'd forget completely by today. She agreed with me that I should take my last dose of my basal insulin last night, in preparation for starting using my pump today.

Yes, today is P-day. No, let me change that: sounds somewhat better to say PS-Day (Pump-Start Day). Tanya and I met at my endo's office this morning, and we commandeered one of the office's rooms for about an hour and a half. She made me do everything, coaching me through some of the steps, but I fortunately did recall most of what I'd been taught last week. And I remembered to bring some important stuff with me to the office -- like a vial of insulin for the pump (which I had to purchase last week, as I've used insulin pens routinely since day one for my bolus insulin doses).

So, anyway, I inserted the battery, filled the pump's syringe-reservoir with insulin, put the reservoir in the pump, and attached the tubing to the reservoir. I think that's the order I did things in -- it's a haze after a while! And there were a whole bunch of little steps I'm not bothering to itemize (like unwrapping tons of disposable wrappings for just about everything). And I've set all sorts of optional alarms, so I'm getting used to listening for beeps and looking at whatever the display screen tells me they mean.

My endo made his appearance about the time Tanya and I were wrapping up the training session, and offered his opinion on initial basal rates and other parameters to set into the pump, most of which were what I had already suspected they'd be.
Finally, I attached the tubing to me. So as of about 11 AM today, I'm hooked up to my pump. Since then, I've checked blood sugars almost every hour, trying to see if things are going okay. So far so good: as of this writing, I've delivered my first bolus dose through the pump, and my blood sugar is behaving. For the moment, I feel like a kid on a new bicycle: my training wheels are off, and I'm careening down a new and somewhat bumpy path, wondering if I'll fall off to the right (hypoglycemia) or left (hyperglycemia).

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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