When I first began using insulin during my pregnancy, I had never heard of an insulin pump. I knew scientists had been working on new ways to give insulin, such as through an inhaler, but that was about as far as my knowledge extended. It was not until I discovered Kerri Sparling’s amazing blog, Six Until Me, that I really began to learn about insulin pumps.
As I learned more about insulin pumps, I realized how much one of these devices could help someone who was giving themselves five or more shots a day. Not having to drag out the insulin vial and syringe in restaurants, not having to worry about missing a bolus or even forgetting that Lantus shot each day. A device that could make life with diabetes easier? I was in.
Only, I knew as a type 2, that this thing was not for me.
Insulin pumps were developed for type 1s, particularly children. Many insurance plans will not even consider paying for a type 2 to get the device. Even some type 1s have had trouble getting insurance coverage for an insulin pump. How could I even imagine that me, a type 2, obese diabetic could get such a miracle device.
Despite my doubts, I approached my doctor after dreaming and scheming for more than a year. To my surprise, he immediately agreed it would be ideal for me. He had the Medtronic rep call me the next day and we got the ball rolling. Throughout the whole process, I expected to get that one phone call, the one where they say, ‘Gee, we’d like to help you, but your insurance won’t pay because you are a type 2.’
And that phone call did come. The insurance wanted proof that I needed such an expensive device. So the months long process was again placed on hold while I went to get a C-Peptide test.
For those who do not know, a C-Peptide test is a test that measures the level of c-peptide in the blood, a by-product of the production of insulin. If the test finds a high level of c-peptide, then the patient makes too much insulin, as many classic type 2 patients, or those with insulin resistance, do. If the results are low or non-existent, the patient no longer produces insulin, as in type 1, or produces so little it has no effect on blood sugar.
I have no idea what my results were. I never asked. A part of me still wants to believe that someday I will magically lose weight and this condition will disappear….hypocritical as that might be….but it must have been low because I was approved for a pump a week later.
So, after weeks of phone calls and waiting and worrying, I received my pump and three months of supplies by UPS. But I couldn’t do anything with it. Despite all my research, all my video watching and online classes, I was told I could not begin using the pump until I met with a representative of Medtronic, a full week later. I was beyond frustrated….I felt like I knew everything!
It turned out I don’t know anything.
The pump is a fascinating device. I met with the kind and patient nurse educator from Medtronic who helped me program the pump and insert my first infusion set. The first two days were amazing. My blood sugars were better than I had seen in twelve years. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make my numbers go over 150…amazing.
Unfortunately, after two days the Lantus completely left my system and my numbers didn’t just creep up, they burst. Just getting out of bed pushed my numbers over 200. The last two months have been all about testing and adjusting…I’m still working at it. But my numbers continue to remain lower than they were on shots, making the whole process worth it.
I am grateful.
Though, the infusion sets are not as glamorous on me as they were on the skinny bellies in the brochures: