Friday, September 02, 2011
Last week's favorite was a place and this week, I've decided to go with a product. My most favorite possession is...
My insulin pump. Rarely does a 24 hour period go by without me clutching it close and fervently saying, "I love my pump!" I even have it skinned out in custom orange! I figure there might be quite a few of you that may not know what a pump is- have never even seen a pump- or know how it works. So here's some general information for those who are curious and a maybe a good bit more for those who might be interested in acquiring one for themselves or a loved one.
An insulin pump... pumps insulin. It's for type 1 diabetics- insulin dependent- which is a funny way of puttin' things, 'cause we're all insulin dependent- just some of us can't supply our own. It takes the place of insulin injections. I used to give myself about 5-7 shots of insulin per day. It wasn't fun, but it was life support in the purest form. I'm not complaining about the tiny discomfort of the needle, itself, but the hassle of carrying around all those supplies, being on a strict timetable and figuring in all the computations that make real control possible. And even at it's best- and my best- it was a roller coaster of ups and downs and while discouragement is not an option, it was a constant struggle with some serious frustration.
This is where the incredible gizmo of an insulin pump comes in. It delivers insulin all day and all night- it's greatest advantage- my blood glucose levels are more even 24 hours a day. Generally, one injection every three days. I still need to check my sugar with a meter, but the pump reads the meter through radio waves and the numbers are factored in when I eat. Insulin delivery for meals involves inputting the carbs I ate and then the pump does the preset computations for my individual needs. No calculating for me. Quick and easy with none of the hassle of shots. No more eating or not eating on a schedule to cover insulin. No trying to be discreet 'cause I don't want anyone passing out from seeing a needle.
Most people don't notice I have a pump and when they do see it, they assume it's a cell phone or some other electronic gadget. It hooks on my pocket or belt and the tubing goes under my clothing to the injection piece- which is called a "set." The set is connected to a small vial of insulin that slips inside the pump. At the end of the set is a very tiny rubber cannula(yes, injected with a needle, but the tiniest needle you will ever see- even smaller than those butterfly needles they use on children. It slides right out as soon as the set is inserted.) The cannula goes just beneath my skin and the insulin drips in through it. It's all held into place with some kind of adhesive. It's pretty tough and under most conditions will stay put for the 72 hours the set can safely be worn without the risk of your insulin dying- from being room temp for three days or infection- from the small puncture.
The set is completely pain-free- you can push, pull, tug- I don't feel any discomfort- it's just a small button. It can be placed anywhere that you would normally give yourself an injection. I like the back of my arm because I'm less likely to rip it off when I'm changing my clothes or um... among other things. (Lisa, quit rolling your eyes.) I disconnect the tubing and pump when I shower or swim or doing the "among other things" anytime I choose- for short periods of time- an hour or two is usually just fine. Yes, I sleep with the pump- just sling it under my pillow or beside me- it never occurs to me that it's even there- just another part of my body.
Let's talk bottom line. It's a great advancement in the quality of a diabetic's life but it sure does come with a huge price tag. The pump costs about $6,000. No, I didn't add too many zeros. The cost of maintaining a pump lifestyle is also very pricey. It runs about $83 dollars every 3 days. ouch! My insurance pays for my pump, disposable supplies and insulin. Who says they don't have a heart? But I figure they're not getting such a bad deal and they know it. The more my blood sugar is under control, it's less likely I'll run into costly complications.
So that's my favorite for this Friday! Have a great weekend and I'll catch you on the flip side!