In part 6 of the Caregiver’s Journey Series, hear about our last few days on multiple daily injections and how the insulin pump makes meal times a bit easier.
How is the type 1 diabetes journey – from diagnosis, through starting on multiple daily injections, to beginning on an insulin pump and other milestones – viewed and managed from the caregiver perspective? Join me in this 6-part series as I discuss my experiences navigating the diabetes journey as a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes.
After our week-long saline trial with the Omnipod insulin pump, with the help of our endocrinologist, we asked our insurance for approval. The saline trial solidified our decision to begin pumping and we couldn’t wait to go live with actual insulin in the pump. It would be a few more weeks before we could begin pumping because we had to wait on insurance approval and then we couldn’t schedule our start date until we had her actual pump in hand.
By this time it was October and we were making our annual trek to trick-or-treat at a zoo about 45 miles from our home. In the interest of time, we went through a drive-through for a quick dinner. As my husband ordered, I sprinted around the car to get our diabetes supply bag and check my daughter’s blood sugar. It must have looked comical. When she was done eating I had to get out of the car again so that I could give her an injection. I commented to my husband that with the pump I would be able to give her insulin without having to stop – I could just point the PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager) in her direction.
As the zoo was closing for the evening, we had to run to the car to get her long-acting insulin. She had to take off her costume and get that injection before we could hit the road, knowing that the kids would fall asleep on the way. The combination of having to pull over to give her insulin for her dinner and then having to give her a long-acting insulin injection made me anxious to get rolling with the pump. I couldn’t wait any longer.
First Day with the Insulin Pump
Insulin pump in hand, we returned to the pump clinic at the endocrinology office to receive our final training and go live with insulin. They once again went over the features of the pump, how to activate a new Pod, and went over the diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) decision tree. An insulin pump only delivers rapid-acting insulin. Instead of long-acting insulin, the rapid-acting insulin is given in small increments throughout the day as basal insulin.
We left the hospital and hit one of our favorite restaurants, the same one that was our first meal after being released from the hospital after my daughter’s diabetes diagnosis. I asked her what it was like having the pump and she said it “feels like nothing.” She hadn’t had a meal without getting an injection in so long. Check out this video of my daughter enjoying her first meal on the Omnipod.
In those first few months, of course, there was a transition period. She was nervous about Pod changes, as with anything new. I had a sticker chart for Pod changes and when it was filled she was treated to a new art kit. But after the adjustment, we have never looked back. If you ask her, she will tell you that she never wants to go back to injections.
How Life Changed for the Better with the Pump
For our daughter, the insulin pump has definitely given her back a little freedom and much more flexibility. We aren’t tied to as tight a schedule anymore. At meals, she gives herself insulin for a set amount of carbs before she eats and can get more insulin afterward if she eats more. Pre-bolusing is one thing that has probably helped with her A1C. We can set temporary basal rates during sports, which helps prevent low blood sugars. And she doesn’t have to take off the Pod to swim.
One of the biggest advantages for us is the bolus calculator. No more math! She checks her blood sugar with the built-in meter, enters the carbs and the PDM does the rest. Those few seconds of not having to draw up insulin and inject or figure out the bolus mean a world of difference at school lunch when she is ready to head out to the playground with her friends.
Of course, insulin pumps aren’t all sunshine and roses. As with any insulin therapy, there is a learning curve and troubleshooting. But we can’t see ever going back to injections or using anything but a patch pump like the Omnipod. We have used two generations of the Omnipod and we look forward to what Insulet has in store next to continue helping people manage their type 1 diabetes.
If you haven’t already, take a look at the first five posts in the Caregiver’s Journey Series.
“A Caregiver’s Journey to Pump Therapy Part 6: Experiences Starting the Pump and How Life Has Changed” originally appeared on Insulet’s Omnipod Suite D blog, now called Podder Talk. In full disclosure, Insulet compensated me for the content that I created for them, but I am not being compensated for sharing it today.