Thursday, February 21, 2013

Escaping the Tether

void of life

I quit the pump.

No, I didn’t actually quit the pump, I just like the sound of it. Well maybe I quit but not really entirely kinda sorta not sure for now. Who knows. I don’t know. Clearly I don’t know.

Why did I go pumpless? There are 2 main reasons.
1.       Desire for freedom
2.       Experimentation & testing myself

I’ve seen people take pump breaks. Sometimes its for a weekend or a week or two vacation. Maybe it’s a month long hiatus or a summer thing. For me I had this overwhelming urge to violently rip the thing off and hide it in a closet or something. I’ve always disliked the feeling of being connected 24/7 to this tethered pancreas. Something came over me recently where I just HAD to be detached and not just for an hour. I didn’t even want to SEE my pump. It didn’t matter what it was going to take, that thing was either coming off nicely or there would be a temper tantrum (on my part). I’ve had it for 4.5years and the only time it’s come off is for swimming and showering and the occasional “moment”. I realized I get anxiety and panic when I’m unplugged for more than 15 minutes at a time.

The other reason I wanted a pump break was to put myself through a test. Let’s face it, life is way easier and somewhat automated on an insulin pump. Basal rates are automatically programmed. The bolus calculator means I don’t have to remember IOB (insulin on board) or I:C (insulin to carb ratios). I just enter in my BG and the carbs and leave the calculating up to the pump. Other people do this all the time so what was I afraid of?! I wanted to see if I could live well on injections after all this time on a pump. As pumpers we are supposed to have back up plans just in case. I never even had my pump settings written down. I had no idea. I never had back-up supplies like pen needles, cartridges or Lantus. I constantly say to people when they ask me why I pump, “If I could make it work on MDI I wouldn’t be on a pump.” I wanted to see if I could try again 4.5years later. I did MDI for over 6 years. How hard could it be?

I had no idea how long a break from my pump this would be. Initially I thought it would last a weekend or even a week. I thought that would be enough to drive me back to my pump grovelling saying “okay pump, you win.”. To my surprise a couple weeks in and I still couldn’t look at my pump. I am just full of this overwhelming discomfort at the thought of strapping that thing back on to the point that it gives me the heebie jeebies. It’s coming up on a month on MDI and I’m learning SO much.

My initial thoughts are mostly to do with the physical separation.
The first thing I noticed was showering. I usually get out of the shower and before I even finished drying off or putting my glasses on I am blindly patting the counter. This first pumpless shower I ran out of the bathroom completely nude running around the cabin saying, “I feel FREE!!. Not a lie, just ask Ryan. The next few times I let the sense of freedom come over me and I no longer stressed about speeding up my shower. I realized that showering was a big stress.

Getting changed was a whole new world too! There is usually this balancing act of the order in which the clothes come on and off. I wasn’t precariously balancing my pump on the bed or on the dresser or clipped to my underwear. The tubing wasn’t getting tugged as I reached for my pants. I didn’t have to decide which articles of clothing to wear depending on where the pump was going to go. I could get changed by simply taking my clothes off and…….putting them back on! This is brilliant, I thought.

It felt like I had taken a really huge poop. The kind that leave me feeling refreshed, empty and lighter. I don’t care if that’s a gross metaphor, it’s how I felt.

The downside? I was still diving down my cleavage for days to check the time or to bolus for food.

Next I’ll write about how it’s actually working (or not) for me and my thoughts on where I go from here.


  1. I don't think I could deal with the math...

  2. I am a firm believer that whatever works for the individual is best.

    I took a pump break for two weeks before and i couldn't get my sugar below 15. My body doesn't play nice with Long Acting insulin. :/

  3. Great post. Best of luck to you on MDI. Can't wait to hear details.

  4. This is precisely why I am trying the OmniPod in the next month or two. Used a traditional pump 10 years ago for about a year and HATED IT. I want to be free!

  5. I'm okay with the pump, but I totally understand the clothes-on, clothes-off thing. If anything would make me want to rip off the pump, it's changing on a winter's night and fumbling with the pump while I shiver in the cold.
    Good luck with the MDI.

  6. Running around naked and diving down cleavage are two of my favourite past-times :)

  7. I felt so free too! Sometimes I think that's the only reason I haven't gone back. I love not wearing ANYTHING. It wasn't the tubing, it was... it! I'm pretty sure I'd loathe the Omnipod just as much. I'm almost a year into my pump sabbatical, and while it isn't perfect, it also isn't too bad!

  8. I'm looking forward to your next post to see how it's going. Personally, I haven't gone a day without my pump since starting it almost seven years ago. I don't really want to know what it feels like to be free because then I'd want it all the time. But I've done so much playing with basal rates lately that the thought of a shot of Lantus, and committing to a particular basal rate for the next 24 hours, scares me.

    Yes, I'm afraid of commitment.

    I know the feeling of being refreshed, empty, and lighter. It's really nice. But if you're implying that I infuse poop beneath my skin via a skinny plastic tube, I think we may need to have a conversation...

  9. Interesting. I share your pump frustrations but haven't reached the point of wanting a break. There are way more positives than negatives for me. But I look forward to reading about how you do pump free.

    How did you know how much long-acting to take? It's been so long that I have no idea. Not sure yet if I'm going to bring some with me on vacation. Might be more risky than it's worth if I have to SWAG it.

  10. You are such an inspiration! I will be watching your experiment closely because I have been curious about the same things. Ive been on the Omnipod since diagnosis and love it, but as with any insulin pump the costs are high.I've never done MDI so I don't even know how to do it!

  11. I've been there! I pumped for a few years when I was a teenager and took about a 5 year hiatus from the pump and I LOVED being free. I went back on a pump in 2011 before getting pregnant and although I love the flexibility it gives me (and the fact that it does the math for me) I miss being tubeless sooo much. I hate having to work around a piece of machinery with everything I wear, and getting tangled up in bed. I think I will take another pump vacation within a year or so, hopefully not for as long this time though!


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