Getting Pumped

Editor's note: This is a humorous piece and in no way purports to provide genuine information about medical matters.

| Jun 11, 2007

The insulin pump is a wonderful device, a marvel of engineering that allows diabetics to screw up at the push of a button. With the pump in use, however, instead of staring at a syringe and racking your brain to remember what you injected into where and how much, a few button clicks will remind you of your mistake, allowing you to correct it with unprecedented accuracy.

For those of you who love the rollercoaster, the pump adds an impressive weapon to your arsenal. You can battle the ups and downs with speed and accuracy and totally avoid the delay of long-acting insulins.

Being an avid rollercoaster rider, I finally gave the pump a try a few years back when I was in high school. Since I'm a gadget freak, I loved it right away. There was a time when I used to look forward to meals because I loved eating.

With a pump, I looked forward to meals so I could push buttons. I even changed my insulin schedule so I could use all the features. The disadvantages of being hooked up to a machine twenty-four/seven didn't occur to me until later.

Actually, one aspect of that reality was pointed out to me by my ever perceptive high school buddies. I walked into school proudly displaying my newest toy and prepared to explain its function to the first person who asked. However, their first question caught me off guard. "Wow, Jon….What are you going to do if a woman wants to sleep with you?"

Truth be told, I hadn't given it much thought. I had been putting my brain to work on more realistic scenarios. One area of much deliberation was how I could disassemble my pump and use the components to break out of confinement, disable the weapons of the invading alien ship, and thus save the human race. Luckily, my quick thinking brain was able to come up with an answer to my friends' unconsidered question on the spot. I pointed to the quick release feature of the infusion set. They all nodded wisely.

The pump is a must for any student. If you are a parent reading this, the pump enables your scholastic progeny to control their troublesome diabetes, thus allowing them to focus more on their studies so that they can work hard and become a doctor and possibly discover a cure to this pesky nuisance of a condition.

For you students reading this, I trust you have discovered the Test feature of your pump. When you run the Self Test on the MiniMed 508, there is a ten second countdown that is followed by an alarming series of beeps and vibrations. Run this test, look down with a worried expression, and you and your best friend (you need an escort) will be able to walk out of any boring class, presentation, or meeting, with no questions asked.

Insulin pumps were designed with buffets in mind. Buffets are difficult for a diabetic. After all, you must try everything (even the green stuff, although you know you really shouldn't). Most likely, after you've tried everything, you'll have to go back and resample the good ones. Possibly there will be a third plate involved as well. If you're like me, there's a good chance of a fourth or tenth as well.

Since you never know what you'll be getting until you've gone to the table, it's difficult to gauge the shots. So rather than taking ten shots a meal (that does get rather old doesn't it?) and making the other guests uncomfortable (Did you see that guy at table 3? That's quite a habit he has) the pump provides a much more real time and unobtrusive method of keeping up with the green stuff and that lovely dish with the chunks in it that keep finding their way on your plate.

You must keep in mind that a pump can be too much of a good thing. Its simple convenience can get you into trouble. While you are happily eating away at the buffet and letting your fingers fly over the pump controls like you were sending text messages, you can encounter certain speed bumps, like when you realize that you have just taken insulin and are now committed to eating that second plate of chunky stuff that isn't as good as it was on the first round. Those can be dark moments.

I must admit that I rarely use the pump these days. When I started contemplating Super Glue to keep the infusion set in place, I realized that it might be time to give shots another try. Gone (mostly) are the days where passersby saw a large man on the street looking morosely at the tube in his hand that had just been accidentally ripped from his body (you get some weird looks for that one).

A certain amount of discipline has gotten me the same level of control without a pump as I had with one. Yet the pump still is extremely useful for sick days, really bad control days, buffets, and the occasional meeting.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Insulin, Insulin Pumps, Personal Stories, Syringes

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Jun 11, 2007

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