Technology helps our lives, except when it doesn’t.
When I quit the insulin pump, I had no idea how good it could be. I had no idea how bad the insulin pump made my life with diabetes until it was gone. What started as an intentional few weeks break turned into permanency. The biggest take-away for me that I didn’t expect was just how EASY managing diabetes could be. The insulin pump complicated my life in ways I was never able to see from where I was standing. Sure, diabetes is still a fickle bitch most of the time and I hate it more than I hate anything that could exist on this planet. I curse it and question “why me?” more often than I care to admit but my life sans pump is glorious compared to before.
The idea of the insulin pump intrigued me. I was on injections for 5 years before I went to the pump. It was so customizable and would adapt seamlessly into my lifestyle of athletics. I could set everything to suit me best, how could that not be a step in the right direction? It was a step backwards.
It wasn’t until I walked away that I was able to see the complications of it. Clogged tubing. Kinked cannulas. Bubbles. Cooked insulin. Infected infusion sites. Scar tissue. Poor absorption. Or even a combination of any of those. Accidentally coming unclipped in the middle of the night and waking up to flu-like symptoms? Not to be forgotten in the mix are problems with taking too much/too little insulin. Or miscounting carbs etc. It was much harder to differentiate.
NONE of these things were easy to correct. Each and every one of these problems resulted in hours of trial and error trying to diagnose the problem in the system. Sometimes it was easy but most of the time it was a giant maze of confusion. I found highs on the pump were the worst I’ve ever had. Often I would have to give massive injections of 8-10units of insulin and wait countless hours. Now? I don’t take much more than 10 units of rapid TOTAL for the day. 10 units would send me to the hospital. I found myself instinctually going for the needle each time to correct the high. I stopped using the pump because I didn’t trust it one bit.
I found myself dealing with one or many of these problems on an almost weekly basis. It was never HUMAN ERROR and it was always a malfunction somewhere in the pump system. That thought alone was enough to piss me right the fuck off. What was I doing? This device made life so much more difficult. I’m not even talking about the physical discomfort of being attached to a massive pager-like unit by a tube to my body 24/7. That alone, was enough to make me want to tear my own skin off. I’m not even bringing up the added pain in the ass of a CGM either (Continuous Glucose Monitor) which is a separate precarious thing sticking out of my body and sometimes a separate device to haul around.
Finding yourself in another city, a few hours drive from home and discovering a pump malfunction? Failing to have a back-up medical cabinet on your person at all times? Hell. Utter Hell. Result? Feeling sick, thick and heavy while trying to maneuver through the “movements” of deciphering the problems.
Could it be the insulin? I don’t know. How do we find out? Try new insulin. Could it be the site? Don’t know. How do we find out? Replace it. Could it be scar tissue? I don’t know. How do we find out? New site. Each problem resulting in HOURS of waiting and carefully monitoring. The questions were endless. A terrible high could take 6 hours to come down.
I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT SHIT!
This is all happening around LIFE. I can’t just crawl into bed and monitor my sick self because I feel so ill I can’t function. What if I’m at work? What if I’m on vacation? What if I’m doing anything a normal person is doing?
Needle and insulin.
I recently forgot my insulin pen at home so I switched over to this for the time being. I just haven't got around to putting the pen back in my purse.
My only problem now is sometimes forgetting it or cooking it or ….. well that’s about it. I go buy a few syringes and a bottle (at any pharmacy) to get me through the day if I forget it ANYWHERE. I toss it if I’ve left it in a hot car for even a couple hours.
My only problems now are usually human error. Forget to bolus. Take too little, take too much, miscount carbs, exercise too hard or too little. Perhaps stress or hormones will have a small effect but more often than not it’s just my error in judgement. The best part? Any problems I have now are fixable within the hour and require far less trouble. I can count on one hand how many times my BG's have reached the +20's mmol/l (360+mg/dl) since going back to injections almost 2 years ago. On the pump, it was a weekly occurrence.
My 5 year stint with the insulin pump made me “device-phobic”. I’ve now gone the complete other direction. I get anxiety when I think about it. I still get the heebie jeebies at the thought of a pump or a cgm or anything for that matter. I’m done but y’know what? I’ve never been happier. I’ve never found managing diabetes this easy and so not in your face. EVEN with athletics. Simplicity is where it’s at for me. My A1C dropped. My weight dropped. My stress and anxiety dro…. Well – no - that’s always going to be an issue. I have far less things to write about because life - with diabetes - is less complicated.
Kudos to you guys for making it work but have you ever wondered if LESS is maybe MORE? If we’ve created a monster with technology? If this technology has maybe, possibly complicated things too much?
It’s back to the basics for me and this is where I will stay.
The Artificial Pancreas Project? You can have it. I don’t want anything to do with it.
Yes, I'd rather stab myself with needles. I see the APP as an interesting thing but extremely complicated and not worth it. It defeats the purpose of helpful. The CGMs we have available are highly inaccurate. I don't want machines making life or death decisions based on a blood glucose number that may or may not be accurate.
I wish, truly, that they would spend research money on finding a cure rather than investing billions into more intrusive, expensive ways to "manage" diabetes.
Please keep in mind these are MY opinions only and YOUR DIABETES MAY VARY! I understand that. I understand there are people that love the pumps and the CGMS and couldn’t live without them. I tried to be one of them. I tried to make it work for 5 stinking years. These are my personal accounts only.