Gizmo aka My Insulin Pump Comes Back

It wasn’t a weekend of firsts. It wasn’t a weekend of lasts. But it was a weekend that changed my outlook on this whole “diabetes” situation.

I did more than survive a weekend without Gizmo, my insulin pump. I re-learned the challenges associated with counting carbs and calculating insulin dosages and how to listen to my body.

Sunday and Monday were good examples.

On Sunday night, my blood sugar felt high (159), but not high enough to warrant a correction dosage of one unit (the lowest increment my flex pen will allow). I had a vague recollection my syringes were divided into 0.5 increments. I only needed a 0.4 unit correction dosage.

I looked at the needle on the syringe – not much longer than my flex pen; I could do this. Now how do I get insulin from the vial to the syringe without breaking the needle? The last time I used a syringe was four and a half years ago, right after I was diagnosed.

Apparently, I needed to unscrew the bottom of the syringe to access the plastic extension that would allow me to fill the syringe. I couldn’t fill it to the 0.5 mark. How would I get out the air bubbles? I used the same method I use for the plastic vial I attach to my pump. I overfilled it and then used the extra space to rid of the bubbles.

Now I will just inject myself with the 0.5 increment and dump the rest back into the insulin vial, I thought. However, as soon as I inserted the needle into my skin, I realized how stupid this was, how easily I could accidentally inject myself with all 15 units of insulin. That means I would need to eat 300 grams of carbs to make up for it, which would totally defeat the purpose of this. Continue reading

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My Weekend Without An Insulin Pump

When did I become afraid of needles? As a diabetic, this seems like a silly question.

But this past weekend, I decided to put Gizmo (my insulin pump) on the shelf and attempt to live off insulin injections via needles. It wasn’t my initial plan, but after a mishap involving leaving vital pump supplies at work, I decided to test it out.

Gizmo’s been by my side for the past two years. What would a day be like without it?

Day 1

When I twist my needle onto a flex pen I still happen to own after two years that still happens to have effective insulin in it, I feel nervous. I wet the skin around my belly button with an alcohol swab and wait for it to dry. The needle seems longer than I remember. At least it is shorter than my other back-up method – the syringe.

I used to do this for two years before I had Gizmo. Was it really this hard? I’ve never been afraid of needles. In fact, I was the kid who wanted to look when the nurse injected me with my annual shots so I knew when the pain was coming.

I know I’m less likely to feel pain if I inject into the fat around my stomach rather than my muscled thighs, skinny arms, or butt. Yes, but doesn’t my butt have the most fat, you may ask? That’s not something you need to know, but really the reason I don’t attempt this area is because it’s too difficult. Continue reading

Because I Have Type 1 Diabetes

I don’t know how I ended up here. 

“I submitted my payment two weeks ago. I just want my member ID cards. I’ve been covered since September 1st,” I say.

I’ve come directly from school, my backpack still attached. The insurance representative in front of me is wearing a white coat (I don’t know why). Her dark hair and pale complexion remind me of one of the robots from the movie, The World’s End.

“It takes 7 to 10 business days, sometimes more, for the initial payment to process,” she says matter-of-fact.

“But you did receive my documentation of continuous coverage?”

“Yes,” she says and then drops the bomb, “But we have a new rating system. If you don’t meet our health standards, and because you’re diabetic, you probably won’t, we don’t have to cover you.” Continue reading

The Whole ‘Diabetes’ Situation

It’s as simple as walking around the block, running to catch the bus, screaming at insurance companies on the phone–I never know when it’s going to hit, but suddenly it’s there like a bat in your hair (actually my experience with bats has been positive; I watched them fly seamlessly from the dock overhang of my boyfriend’s place in Florida).

Anyway, it’s that moment when you feel weak, like your body is giving out. Your arms start to go limb. Your mouth feels dry. You’ve lost sensation in your feet. Taking a step requires effort. And then it hits you. Your blood sugar is low. But who wants to eat another glucose tablet? The nasty powdery aftertaste they leave does not coincide with my hygiene routine. I already brush my teeth more than the recommended two times per day.

I even started using this “natural” toothpaste because I figure if I’m going to brush my teeth that much, I might well as safeguard my health. Well, that’s another story. But do I carry juice on me? Not like my former roommate, another type 1 (coincidentally I might add–we met her through Craigslist) who carries juice boxes around for those “low” moments, something her mom started doing when she was diagnosed at 13. Some habits never change. Continue reading

Days in the Life

This short essay describing random days in the life a diabetic was first published in Sugarcoated and is part of the University of Baltimore Plork Anthology (2013).

ONE DAY

7 a.m.

The harp string of my alarm wakes me. I remove my insulin pump from the folds of my cream-colored sheets. As I walk to the bathroom outside my bed­room, I clip the pump to my underwear.

In the bathroom, I unzip the black case of my glucometer, insert the lancet into the pricking device and then shoot it into my calloused fingertip. I push the blood from my finger and touch a drop to the test strip. The meter reads 88. A good start.

7:30 a.m.

Before I leave for work, I unclip my insulin pump from the plastic tubing taped to the skin above my waist line. I do not want the exercise from walking to and from the bus stops to make my blood sugar drop.

If my blood sugar is low when I wake up, like yesterday when it was 80, I drink a cup of orange juice before leaving.

It also is easier to manage diabetes with the insulin pump—it administers a consistent amount of insulin over a 24-hour period to keep blood sugars stable. Continue reading